Archive for the ‘Concerts’ Category

Robyn Hitchcock Concert – Ram’s Head On Stage, Annapolis, MD – 11.08.14

Just returned from the Robyn Hitchcock concert. Yes, it’s 7:05 PM and I’m home from the concert.  It was a 12:30 PM matinee at Ram’s Head On Stage in Annapolis, MD.  Other than festivals, I think this was the first time I’ve seen a concert that early.

In keeping with the sound and spirit of his latest album, “The Man Upstairs”, the show was very much stripped down.  It was just Robyn, his 6 string acoustic guitar and occasional harmonica. And I got to tell you, it truly worked. You got to really focus on the lyrics because his voice is still crystal clear and there weren’t many other instruments competing for the sonic space.

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The show started strong with the very weird, “Don’t Talk To Me About Gene Hackman”

I’ll have a warm bath
I’ll have a bottle of wine
I’ll put myself to bed
And I’ll feel just fine
But don’t talk to me about Gene Hackman

He’s got an evil grin
He’s got curly hair
And every time he smiles
It means trouble somewhere
So don’t talk to me about Gene Hackman

He’s in every film
Sometimes wearing a towel
And if it isn’t him
You get Andie MacDowell
So don’t talk to me about Gene Hackman

Don’t talk to me at all
Don’t say hello
You could be Gene himself for all I know

In Unforgiven
He was totally mean
But when he got his
I really felt for Gene
But don’t talk to me about Gene Hackman

I’ll have a cold shower
I’ll have a bottle of pop
I’ll get a dog named Laszlo
From a Laszlo shop
But don’t talk to me about
Gee ee en ee aitch ay see kay em ay en
Gene Hackman
I’ll have a cold shower
I’ll have a bottle of juice
And when I’ll go outside
I’ll have a good excuse

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The venue really played well with this performance since everything was reserved seating with tables and chairs, where food and beverages could be purchased throughout the performance. Patrons were urged beforehand to respect the performance and refrain from talking during the show and for the most part they did; except for some of the little kids at the show (I don’t mind parents sharing great music with their children but please teach them manners before bringing them). Our seats were pretty good, about 20 feet from him to the left of the stage.

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Per usual, spoken word interludes between songs featured his trippy, surreal and comical observations about things as varied as Johnny Marr, Magnum Force (the Clint Eastwood 2nd Dirty Harry film), how tuning the high strings sounds like sea lions, etc. I can’t even remember them all now.

The Magnum Force reference was not by chance, however. On “The Man Upstairs” and performed today is a song called “San Francisco Patrol”.  From Yep Roc Records, earlier this year:

Penned in its namesake city, “San Francisco Patrol” marks the third released installment of Hitchcock’s projected Magnum Force suite, a long-in-the-works eight-song cycle based on the 1973 Clint Eastwood classic, but really “about me.”

The approximately hour and a half show was very well paced and built somewhat in intensity as he added slide guitar and harmonica to later songs. He returned for a 3 song encore of covers and then wished us well and left.

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We went to look for merchandise at the venue entrance but alas, he wasn’t selling anything at this show.  We returned to our table and I spotted him on the other side of the room, talking to people.  We went over to meet him and had him sign one of the bills/menus from the show that were laid at each table. We wanted to get a picture of him but he really didn’t go for that at all.  He doesn’t mind no-flash photography during the performance but does not do after show photos. One idiot flashed a pic during the show and he immediately called them out and told them not to do that. Some fans are total idiots. Ellen asked me how long I’ve been into his music and I said all the way back to The Soft Boys. He said “you don’t look old enough for that” (though I’m only 9 years younger than him). After he got done with signing the bill, I remember him saying goodbye and “take care of yourselves and take care of each other”.

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This was the third time I’ve seen him; the first two times as Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians in the mid to late 80’s. Those shows were great too as I remember but this one had an old comrade kind of feel to it. I guess that’s since we’re both much older now and many of the songs go way back with us. The early shows were about the spirit of the moment while this one was like a more quiet reflection of who we were, what we became, and where we still might go. Any time a show makes me think like that hours after the event, I know I witnessed something important.  Important to me at any rate. Then again, I too, often dream of trains.

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Set List:

1. Don’t Talk To Me About Gene Hackman
2. Nietzsche’s Way
3. The Cheese Alarm
4. Sally Was A Legend
5. You And Oblivion

6. Solpadeine
7. Trouble In Your Blood

8. San Francisco Patrol
9. Only The Stones Remain (The Soft Boys song)
10. Serpent At The Gates of Wisdom
11. I Got The Hots (The Soft Boys song)
12. Madonna Of The Wasps (Robyn Hitchcock & The Egyptians Song)
13. I’m Falling (Robyn Hitchcock & The Venus 3 Song)
14. Alright, Yeah

Encore
15. Andmoreagain (Love Cover)
16. Pledging My Time (Bob Dylan Cover)
17. Visions of Johanna (Bob Dylan Cover)

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The Fleetwood Mac concert was a lot better than I thought it would be.  It was great seeing Christine back with the band, and they all sounded great. Lindsey Buckingham was just astounding on guitar.  That was some of the best live guitar work I’ve seen in a long time. There were really cool video projections as well.  The one with Rhiannon was quite simply, classic, stylish goth which really impressed me.

I had forgotten until tonight how much better this band is live than they are in the studio (like The Who).  Don’t get me wrong, many of their studio albums are great but whenever they perform those songs live, they seem to have more energy and more passion (ahem, like The Who).

I’m not sure if The Verizon Center was sold out but if it wasn’t then it was damn close. I was a bit peeved that the handicapped section is way up on the 4th level at the opposite end of the stage but they closed off the seats in front of that section so we had a completely unobstructed view of the show.  The video monitors helped a bit to see the action up close. Also, sitting back that far, the music mixed so well by the time it reached our ears. I think this show had the best audio quality in a sports venue than any show I have attended in a similar venue (Yes, even beating out the Stones in Newark in 2012).

This isn’t the usual type of concert I tend to go for these days but occasionally I like to break ranks and revisit stuff from decades past to see if it still lives up.  More often than not, it does.

All in all, a great night except for the following (yes my demeanor dictates I go for the negative any time I can):

  1. There was a ‘major incident’ (according to a DC police officer) that had a huge area taped off after the show.  It just so happened to be right in the same area as the parking garage we parked in. I got stopped by a cop as I tried to get to a curb cut.  He said I was close to violating evidence. He was nice enough to escort me down the street until we got to the next corner.  In short, what should have taken 5 minutes to get to the garage, took probably 20.
  2. We couldn’t find the van.  It wasn’t until we returned to the garage that we realized the fucker was about the size of a city block.  We knew we were on C level but we didn’t know C level was the size of Neptune. We took solace in the fact that even if we found the van immediately, the gridlock would still have kept us from leaving right away anyway. I felt like I was trapped inside a Seinfeld episode (yeah, you know the one I’m thinking of). It felt like forever but eventually we found the van (after practically everyone else was gone).
  3. I-95 South. Fuck, Construction Time Again (And I don’t mean that great Depeche Mode album).
  4. Halloween – Yeah Stevie Nicks said Halloween was her favorite holiday and she/they wished us a Happy Halloween (even though there was less than an hour of it left after the end of the show) but I was way out of my Halloween comfort zone – where I watch horror movies all day and listen to nothing but dark gothic and industrial music. And Halloween fell on a Friday this year too, so I could have stayed up all night and bathed myself in the horror. I don’t regret going to the show but Halloween was not Halloween this year.

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Hope you all had a spooktacular evening. All in all, mine was pretty good; even with the trade-offs.

The setlist:

  1. The Chain
  2. You Make Loving Fun
  3. Dreams
  4. Second Hand News
  5. Rhiannon
  6. Everywhere
  7. I Know I’m Not Wrong
  8. Tusk
  9. Sisters of the Moon
  10. Say You Love Me
  11. Seven Wonders
  12. Big Love
  13. Landslide
  14. Never Going Back Again
  15. Over My Head
  16. Gypsy
  17. Little Lies
  18. Gold Dust Woman
  19. I’m So Afraid
  20. Go Your Own Way

Encore:

  1. World Turning
  2. Don’t Stop
  3. Silver Springs

Encore 2:

  1. Songbird

My wife and I watched Disc 1 of King Crimson’s “Eyes Wide Open” live DVD out on the deck last night in the crisp Fall evening air. I hadn’t watched this in quite a bit of time. The performance blew (or should I say, Belew) me away. The interplay between Robert Fripp and Adrian Belew on guitars was nothing short of mesmerizing. It really hit home how much I really wished Adrian was on this year’s tour that we saw in NYC last Saturday.

Don’t get me wrong; the concert we saw was unbelievable. Along with Dead Can Dance and Joe Jackson (many years ago), this concert was the best as far as musical proficiency in a live performance is concerned. And yes, I really did love the 3 drummer performance, which gave the whole show a wonderful polyrhythmic and world music kind of feel to it.

However, the show we saw did not showcase the guitar prowess that I witnessed on the DVD last night. Adrian’s playing was incredible and it also seemed to bring Fripp out more as well; as if each of them was challenging one another to go one better. Jakko Jakszyk was really good as second guitarist at the show we saw but he isn’t in the same league as Adrian. Also the dichotomy between Adrian and Robert’s playing styles (that somehow seem to always work) is wonderful to listen to and watch.

I have no regrets making the trip to NYC and incurring the costs to make this show happen. It was truly a great weekend. However, it would have been a godhead weekend if Adrian had been with the band.

I’m usually pretty choosy about spending over $1000 to make a trip to see a band, especially if I have seen them before. That said, if King Crimson tours again, and this time with Adrian, then I’ll fly to Helsinki to see them if I have to.

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