Robyn Hitchcock & Heavy Friends, The Three Kings, Clerkenwell, by Richard Foster

As soon as I got out of Luton Airport, I realized that my attempts to look cool by wearing my “granddad chic” clothing would only result in a fully clothed sauna.....................

As soon as I got out of Luton Airport, I realized that my attempts to look cool by wearing my "granddad chic" clothing would only result in a fully clothed sauna; it was that hot. And that was nothing to the temperature in the Three Kings. Children, I nearly fainted. Quite how Mr. Hitchcock & his heavy friends managed to play a set was beyond me. But, hey! Having said all that miserable stuff about heat & fainting, I'm now in the happy position of describing the best gig I've seen this year.


Actually, I don't really have to do that even, because I can cop out and say what I've been saying all the time since, which is simple and saves me a lot of writing. Picture the scene. An intimate, all-round decent gentlemanly pub, with the bar easily reachable. Small stage, with ye legendary Robyn Hitchcock, and assembled and no less legendary Soft Boys Kimberley Rew and Morris Windsor. Guesting on vocals theee most talented Ed Harcourt. Guest appearances from tellyman Adam Buxton from "Adam & Joe".Wow. One other moment I'd better divest myself of, by telling you right now, is Peter Blake chatting to me over (of all subjects), the weather; (this incident has subsequently inaugurated a "Peter Blake Run", where I run round my living room in the sheer chaotic embarrassment that is summoned up every time I think of the fact that the creator of the Sgt. Peppers cover chatted to me about the weather).  Un-bloody-believable.


So there you have it; Three Kings Charity Fundraising night, a near as bloody damn it on-stage Soft Boys reunion and what do they play, oh children of the Netherlands? The fucking White Album. (That's right, the bloody White Album!). From start to finish. In track order. Including Revolution Number. Nine, and stuff you could only dream of hearing live, like Everybody's Got Something to Hide...... It was so good that I could even hear the scratches on my copy half way through Julia. And at times they even transcended the Beatles; Helter Skelter became this primaeval, swampy, metallic blues clash; at one point I thought the band could be trying to invoke the ghost of Grendel's mother from her subterranean lair. Piggies lost its superior 1968 hippy sneer and blossomed into the pop song it always should have been. Glass Onion was a coruscating, glassy eyed assault; hell I could go on...


Actually I will, just a little longer, in that I CAN make you gauge just how good it was by saying that the traditional Ringo track, (always skipped in our gaff; yes, even Yellow Submarine), Don't Pass Me By, became a wonderful, heartfelt, bittersweet sing-along; and even Macca's more mawkish moments (Rocky Raccoon, Martha My Dear) had a wit and charm about them that was brilliantly spotlighted and exploited. (Bet you don't believe the bit about Rocky Raccoon, but you're gonna have to...)


The night ended with a sell off of goodies in aid of Medecines Sans Frontieres, (I was wisely hindered in my blind panic bidding with a foreign currency), but who wouldn't want original Peter Blake and Robyn Hitchcock artifacts enhancing your life? Eh?