The Center for the Arts, Natick, MA
April 20, 2019
Quarks, strangeness and charm. Robyn Hitchcock brought an
abundance of all three to the. intimate, well worth the drive, TCAN in Natick.
Sporting a piano and acoustic guitar and harmonica, Hitchcock takes a career
spaning twisted spin through his catalog. The Center for Arts Natick was well
packed and had decent chairs and solid acoustics. The soundman did a great job
following Hitchcock's curly q directions on how to manipulate the sound board
to his liking.
I don't know about you, but I usually say I'm not much of a troubadour fan.
The truth is that a single performer and a single instrument always cuts too
close to my bones. I see people I know or people I remember in every song -
even in Hitchcock's surrealist dreams. They tend to wreak havoc with my limited
emotional skills. That said…
Hitchcock's world runs parallel to Lewis Carroll’s, Richard Adam's and
Syd Barrett’s. He told an ongoing story throughout the night about the
excitement and sexualization of rodents the world over as a result of the tuning
of his guitar. His anthropomorpic cat, when nervous, sends imaginary faxes to
world dignitaries because there are blimps above his house raining water on
the garden. His low-key, genteel English eccentric shtick could wear thin in
other hands. But in Hitchcock's, it is endlessly creative and funny. The songs
carry on in the same vein they just add on music.
He gives us the Soft Boys "I Wanna Destroy You" and talks about
how little the world changes. There are plenty of Egyptians tunes; "One
Long Pair of Eyes", "Ted", "Woody and Junior", "Madonna
of the Wasps", "Queen Elvis" and the big hit, "Balloon Man".
He slips between political, personal, cracked and poignant. At times it was
so quite you could hear your neighbor breathing. At other times it was impossible
to stifle the laughter.
Hitchcock took a 17 minute intermission to, as he noted, “rest in his
sarcophagus” and give everyone a chance to use the bathroom, buy booze,
use the bathroom again and grab some dicey merchandise. He started the second
set on piano because it makes his quitar playing sound better.
After a generous 25 plus songs Hitchcock's encore nods to a couple of his
heroes. We hear Syd Barrett's fractured Floyd psych opus "Astronomy Domine"
and end with John Lennon’s less than flattering look at beliefs, "God".
With thanks to William Jordan!