I’ve been dead a little while, but I just wanted to reanimate a bit here. My wife and I saw Robyn Hitchcock last night at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton, MA (recommended venue, by the by). This is the second time we’ve seen him in the last few years. Both times were solo acoustic, and I just can’t recommend him enough. I grew up with his music in the background, on the radio with the Egyptians, a little Soft Boys, but I have to say that I didn’t get it until now. His connection to Dylan has been documented in his own record, Robyn Sings, and this is bourne out by Hitchcock’s sense of the absurd and rich language play, but he takes it even further than Dylan by embodying the absurdist, dada logic and humor in his songs and between songs stories. He is a master at pursuing an off-the-cuff (or so it would seem) train of thought and articulating it in quite funny and deeply creative language. Not some garden-variety situational comic, Hitchcock follows his ideas into spaces never quite considered (or at least infrequently and by few), he began his set by saying, paraphrased, of course,that this evening’s show would commence, as many things in life do, with an insertion, and then he plugged in his guitar. And things did commence in a twisting and engaging fashion, following the wonder of his lyrics and surprising melodies, playing a great mix of older beauties, such as “I Often Dream of Trains” and “No, I Don’t Remember Guilford” and more recent things such as “Cheese Alarm” and even a newly composed piece or two.
OK, I know I’m getting too insular here, but I can’t stress enough that Hitchcock is at a phase in his career where he has mastered his craft and his catalogue, and is playing at the top of his game, endlessly curious and beautifully absurd in a time when too many singer-songwriters take themselves too damn seriously. He might know that he has some laurels to rest upon, but he doesn’t seem interested. He’s still out there looking and creating. He’s very, very much worth checking out these days.