Robyn Hitchcock live at the Purcell Rooms, London, October 2004

"Everyone went home happy, with that great warm feeling you'd get as a kid after you'd been to the pantomime."

I've never been to the Purcell rooms before, and I must say I found the bar quite amenable, if somewhat reminiscent of a foyer/lounge area of a ferry terminal, only with literary and sensitive types wandering around. Still, it filled up quite nicely, and a bell rang, warning you that the Hitch would be on shortly. I thought that was quite a nice touch. Anyway, we found our way to the seats, and settled down to watch an acoustic set by the great Robyn Hitchcock.


 


Starting off with the Fab's "Happiness is a Warm Gun", Hitchcock soon settled down to playing a set consisting of favourites culled from his career. It was that kind of night, cosy, convivial, chatty. The audience members were all fans or family, and everyone seemed happy to hum their way through numbers such as "Only the Stones Remain", and "1974"; (well I had to tell you what he played, didn't I?). There was also the inevitable surreal aside from Uncle Robyn twixt songs, (those who haven't heard these really must purchase "Storefront Hitchcock" just to get an appreciation of the baroque verbal meanderings that he presents at gigs); and a welcome appearance from Morris Windsor, who added beautiful harmonies and a percussive impetus. 


 


A piano was in evidence, and used for superb renditions of "Queen Elvis" and "The Man Who Invented Himself". Windsor's contribution on "Element of Light", and "Globe of Frogs" turned these two tracks into shimmering dreamscapes, conjouring up, as if by magic, images of picnics on summer lawns, (or stuff like that; really, I can't be too precise). By this stage of the evening, from my viewpoint high in the stalls, I could detect heads nestling into partners' shoulders. As I said, it was that kind of night. Other highlights were "She Doesn't Exist", so much better than the somewhat maudlin album version, and "I've Got the Hots", which was given full opportunity to wield its sinister, serpentine charm.


An encore was demanded and, with "My Wife & My Dead Wife", was rapturously received. Everyone went home happy, with that great warm feeling you'd get as a kid after you'd been to the pantomime. I have to say I experienced one of those "London moments" as our party stepped out onto the Embankment, with the Thames and Big Ben in full view, and our heads full of Hitchcock songs. Magical.


 


Words : Richard Foster