Bodega, Nottingham, 7/3/2013
published: 9 /
Anthony Strutt enjoys a solo acoustic gig at the Bodega in Nottingham from former Soft Boys front man Robin Hitchcock as part of a tour to celebrate his sixtieth birthday
The Bodega is a pleasant little space above a trendy bar, formely known as The Nottingham branch of the Heavenly Social, which is owned by the record label of the same name.
Having never ever seen Robyn Hitchcock outside of London, I wasn't sure how well he would be received. Robyn was on tour to celebrate his 60th birthday, and tonight is playing entirely solo. A few days before in London he did double the length of show that he did tonight and had special guests galore, but tonight's show was no less enthralling.
Many of my friends worship the ground he walks on. I interviewed him several years ago, and he was one of the nicest gentlemen that I have ever met. Over the years, Robyn has fronted the Soft Boys three times now and also the Egyptians. He has had a solo career for many years and has had various backing bands that have included most of R.E.M. in their line-up. Robyn has also played many tribute concerts in recent years. He was seen after this show on stage with Michael Stipe at Yoko Ono's 80th birthday bash in Germany, and recently at a Steve Wynn show he joined Wynn to play the whole of the third Velvet Underground album in its entirety for the encore.
Tonight is a trip through his own back pages. He throws in also a few new numbers as well as a few old Soft Boys tracks. Stripped of their original New Wave/psychedelic sound, they stand up as solid songs that are frankly timeless. Robyn chose to be a musician but his wit and charm is such that he is just as funny and clever as any late night BBC1 stand-up comic of recent years.
The songs are at one level a sort of filler for his humour. He tells us that gigs are like dark places near toilets. He also jokes that people ask him now that he is 60 what is it like to be dead, but whereas most people would get moody over this Robyn uses it to write a number about it.
In just under eighty minutes we are trated to a mystic playground of numbers, all played on a guitar with new strings. At the end Robyn chooses not to go off stage but to do the encore without leaving the stage, so we get treated to three songs from his own music collection which ends a perfect evening.
The first cover isn't one I know, but the second reduces me to tears as he does the London standard that is now 'Waterloo Sunset', while the closer is a fantastic acoustic stripped-down version of Pink Floyd's 'Arnold Lane'.
A stunning evening by a true gentleman. Happy birthday, Mr Hitchcock!