Robyn Hitchcock, Catherine Feeny
Miss Fliss 18/02/2009
Before the gig, the following exchange took place:
Do you think he'll make jokes?
- No, I imagine he's quite serious, and maybe a bit shy too.
About a minute after setting foot on stage in a comical spotty blouse and matching-to-the-point-of- camouflage spotty guitar, our man Hitchcock is leading us into the realms of the ridiculous, resulting in uproarious laughter amongst the audience. Then it's a quick whisk away into a song that contains the lyrics: Said the spike to the tomato/ Said the curry to the corpse/ I got the hots for you. It's all rather surreal and leaves us wide-eyed in surprise.
It seems that part of the pleasure of a Hitchcock show is his natural bent for storytelling and the way a wry tale can draw the audience into his world. There are tales that range from alien abduction to girls who are beautiful but bonkers and all raise a good humoured grin. There are also bits of plain irrelevance worthy of the stand-up comedian Simon Munnery:
Shaving cream - who needs it? The answer - those about to shave.
Being at a gig where you know not a single song, not even any of the crowd favourites (does Hitchcock have “hits”? Hmm.) is a very weird feeling, but one that functions as a showcase for what is a mighty wealth of material. Hitchcock has been in The Soft Boys, The Egyptians, and been a solo artist too, with 16 albums to his name in his solo guise alone.
There's a certain charm to his acoustic songs, with his mellow Syd Barrett voice and wonky poetry, but the rockier moments can get a bit on the indulgent side. A heavier number later in the set collapses into never ending waves of prog mess and we leave the premises. An hour of this would make a fine show, but it's been an hour and fifteen and it feels time to leave. Checking out the man's material is a daunting task indeed but on this gig's evidence, it must surely be done. He may now be the reserve of grey haired rockers (people below the age of 30 were in short supply at the gig) but perhaps it's time a new generation dug through his musical goldmine.