Robyn Hitchcock has always been able to find the common ground between Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Syd Barrett and the occasional insect. Last night he brought his 30-year musical legacy to The Logan Square Auditorium for an XRT Show that was recorded for future broadcast as an XRT Sunday Night Concert.
It’s always a treat when Robyn’s in town to play his quirky and sometimes surreal songs and this show was made more special by his backing band, the estimable Venus 3, featuring Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey of R.E.M. and ex-Ministry drummer Bill Rieflin. Despite their high profiles, they stay in the shadows on stage leaving the spotlight to Robyn. Robyn and The Venus 3 have played together now for a few years and have recorded two albums including the latest, Goodnight Oslo which ranks among Hitchcock’s best. Their job is to bring out the best in Robyn’s jangly guitar pop songs. They come off more as a band than as high paid sidemen, which I doubt, they are as evidenced by McCaughey serving as guitar tech as well as bassist. They really seem to enjoy playing together.
The set was heavy on songs from the Goodnight Oslo record with the title track, “Saturday Groovers” and especially “I’m Falling”, an awesome performance that ended with trippy guitar play between Robyn and Buck’s 12 string.
They also reached back for XRT favorites from the past like “Madonna of The Wasps” and “Flesh Number One” which was dedicated to the year 1988.
He also dedicated songs to Schuba’s and actress Anne Hathaway and set up pretty much every other song with some sort of philosophically surreal rap.
The man is naturally psychedelic.
As I said, the show was recorded for the Sunday Night Concert program and when I introduced Robyn and mentioned the taping, the enthusiastic crowd reaction was such that it sounded like I offered to buy the entire club a drink. They had an idea this might be a show worth experiencing more than once.
I’d have to agree.
(Written by Marty Lennartz)