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Robyn Hitchcock
April 21, 2002
Crocodile Cafe
Seattle, WA

Setlist

Reviews

From Nick

Woj asks on the fegmania webpage: "Anybody there?"

If nobody has posted yet, it's only because they want to spare the feelings of anyone who missed this awesome show. Not only was Robyn on top form and played a perfect mix of new and old songs, plus a smattering of covers, but all the Viva-SeaTac mafia was on hand and after the first encore the stage was filled with various members of the Minus-Five and Young Fresh Fellows including Peter Buck, Scott McCaughey, Kurt Bloch, Tad, Jim etc., etc. crashing around, playing everybody else's guitars, and joining in with songs they didn't know. (for example, Peter Buck didn't know how to play "Give It To The Soft Boys"!) Percussion was performed on shaker-potato, beer-bottle-and-flashlight and indeed anything else to hand.

It made getting to the hotel at two am in time to get up at four for a six o'clock flight so I could be in an eight o'clock meeting all worthwhile. (Did I mention I'm shattered?)

In my present condition it's hard to remember my own name, let alone what was in the set, but I do recall that he played many of my personal favorites: Listening to the Higsons, Linctus House, Arms of Love, Raymond Chandler Evening, The President, The Yip Song, One Long Pair of Eyes and She Doesn't Exist (not necessarily in that order). The couple of Dylan covers he played were nice, too (I don't always like those) - oh and he played Inside You (the Psychedelic Furs song), too. Wonderful!

Hopefully Eddie will have the complete set-list for you.

On the non-musical front, I should mention that in my wanderings around Seattle during the day I picked up a small (6in) plastic crab which squeaked when you squeezed it. I thought this might be a good totem for our table in the restaurant. Somehow however this ersatz crustacean found itself hanging on Robyn's mic stand during the show. He noticed it immediately and seemed delighted with the sound. Several times during the set he had a conversation with it and on one occasion it apparently decided that the song he was about to play on was not appropriate, and after much squeaking from the crab, Robyn put aside the harmonica holder he'd just picked up and started a different song.

Afterwards, Scott and the boys hung out in front of the stage (though not Robyn, of course) and Scott even posed for a Fegfoto with as all.

If he'd just played Chinese Bones as well it would have been perfect. As it is I still have something to hope for for San Francisco tomorrow.

This is one show I definitely want to get a recording of!

PS My thumbs up, too, for Mike Viola. Nice pop-y Squeeze-ish songs with slightly twisted lyrics. To show what a low-budget tour this is, Mike broke a string half-way though the first song. He had to stop. Go off, get his guitar case, and change the string on stage - all this while keeping the audience entertained and without breaking a sweat. What a pro.

From Susan

I also was not taking notes on the setlist, so will sort of briefly jot down (what I perceived as the) highlights and lowlights, in no particular order.

On the definite plus side, the setlist was -quite- varied. I had only heard 3 or 4 of the songs live before and as you are all aware, I may not have seen as many Robyn shows as say, Nick W., but I've definitely seen a few. I almost didn't bother to make the trip to Seattle from Portland, especially considering it was a weeknight and these days I'm the sort of dull individual who usually goes to bed around ten and rarely later than 11. Three hours is also a fairly long way to go just to see Robyn play the same old songs in the same old ways (yeah I know, heresy). So I was definitely really pleased that some of the old live chestnuts didn't come out to play and a couple oldies had new arrangements. It was almost TOO varied, in the sense that occasionally there was a bit too much of a mood lurch from comic to sensitive for my taste, but overall I thought song selection was good.

There was some very funny improvised patter involving a "little squeaky crab", hung on the mic stand a few minutes before the show by a Feg who will remain nameless (unless he wants to claim credit in another post). Robyn seemed taken with it and when he left it left with him.

If "Viva SeaTac" were to vanish off the face of the earth I personally would not miss it much. However, this obligatory version was a bit more enjoyable than usual, largely due to the participation of some Young Fresh REMs playing new and different percussion instruments. A beer bottle played with a flashlight was an on-the-spot invention, while the maraca-like thing made out of a potato was something Robyn already had sitting out on the table behind him.

"Give It To The Soft Boys", also involving various Young Fresh REMs including Kurt Bloch, was fantastic and much fun. Robyn put the guitar down and just did vocals (complete with the, hmm, I don't know how to type this, but the "eeeeee ehhhhhh uhhhhhh" sound effects) and interpretive movements.

There was a lovely, heartfelt "One Long Pair of Eyes" and "I Feel Beautiful" (cheekily dedicated to Arafat and Sharon).

I enjoyed "Listening To The Higsons" but felt that it was missing a lot without the wok. Also, I'm not quite sure it works as an acoustic number.

"Trilobyte" was a pleasant surprise. I don't know if it's true, but the story about it being inspired by a "ladies' shaving device from the 40s" found rusting and decaying on a beach was a great one.

The Pros and Cons of Dylan covers: He did a very moving, striking "Not Dark Yet"; a serviceable-but-nothing-amazing "It's All Over Now Baby Blue", and a fairly limp "Pledging My Time". I really missed that kind of sly, knowing leer that gives Dylan's version its punch (come to think of it, "I've Got The Hots" could have used a dash more of something like that also). I think maybe in the early days he could have carried it off a bit better, but this version was just too laid back to be effective. I felt similarly about "Ballad of a Thin Man", altho the one lyrical update ("You've read all of T. Coraghessan Boyle's books") did make me smile.

I wasn't particularly amazed by the two new songs or the instrumental (called something like "Feeling Is The Last Thing To Die"). Maybe I need to hear them in a different setting, but on first impression neither "Briggs" nor the other one (I don't even recall the title) were nearly as striking as any one of the songs that debuted on the SBs tour.

Random Miscellaneous (Non-Music) Commentary:

A Complaint About Annoying Audience Members: Hey, if you're going to spend the entire show chatting and keeping a running verbal commentary, could you stand somewhere other than the front row? I guess asking you to stop yelling out unfunny jokes is a lost cause, since you were obviously determined to do so despite the lack of response from both Robyn and the audience. Oh wait, that's not accurate. There was response in the form of groans and glares from the people around you. And Robyn did answer your irritatingly insistent prodding for "Gene Hackman" during the "Briggs" monologue, when you kept interrupting to shout "Was Gene Hackman in it?". He finally looked at you and answered "NO" in the kind of withering tone that would have instantly quieted or at least momentarily embarassed anyone but you wild and crazy guys. That was all quite bad enough, but on top of it you continued to waft smoke in his face even after Robyn gave you the evil eye. Other people were going to the back of the room or even outside to have a smoke as the amount of it swirling about the stage area was obviously bugging him. Pop quiz- when you're in the front row, and smoking, where do YOU think the smoke goes?

Ahem, moving right along......

Fashion note: Purple shirt with bright flowers and dark purple velvet pants. Lizard shirt came out later. Pre-show our man was sporting the Trenchcoat Mafia look- black tshirt and pants with a lightweight dark coat.

Eyebrow note: I'm not quite sure, but it didn't look to me as though they had finally bifurcated, I think they -might- just look less oppressively mono because they're silvery.

Cone note: There were quite a lot of cones there (30). I have a feeling this may have been the result of sitting in a hotel room bored or perhaps a long bus ride with nothing to do, but of course it's also possible that Robyn has developed a renewed enthusiasm for cone creation.


woj <woj@fegmania.org>