Robyn Hitchcock, The Lighthouse, Deal, 22nd September 2022
Updated: Oct 9
How do you describe Robyn Hitchcock? Surrealist. Poet. Troubadour. Rock'n'roller. Soft Boy. Egyptian. Cat lover. Cheese enthusiast. Film star. Voyager. Mad. Brilliant.
He's been making music since 1976, initially as The Soft Boys with the wonderful Kimberley Rew (later of Katrina And The Waves), then as a solo artist, as well as performing as Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians. God knows how many albums he has made - 22, I think, plus 2 with The Soft Boys, plus multiple live albums and compilations!
These days he continues to plough his own path and tonight he is playing a solo show down in Deal in Kent to support his forthcoming album, Shufflemania!. It's just him, initially on acoustic and then later electric guitar. He looks like Dave Gilmour, but has worn better than big Dave (who looked like a more muscular Jeremy Corbyn last time I saw him....).
I've dragged my friend Gill along, who moved down to Deal last year. Great to see bands we have heard of playing this lovely coastal town, and my friend's new home. We sit outside and enjoy the last of the warm evenings, chatting to Jeremy and Elinor. It emerges they are writing a book about The Prisoners (Elinor's brother is their bass player) and are surprised I have seen The Prisoners live (late 1991 I think, at the Town & Country Club way back when...). They are great company and I will endeavour to join them for one of the four shows they are promoting with The Prisoners in Rochester to launch a new book they have compiled of fans' memories of that fabulous band.
We are too busy chatting to check out the support act, Jessica Lee Morgan, daughter of producer Tony Visconti and Mary Hopkin, who sang Those Were The Days fame. But her voice sounds lovely, we should have given her more attention.
We head into the venue to see the main act. Robyn takes the stage and asks if the venue has been visited by an exorcist, before launching into My Wife And My Dead Wife, which is as disturbing as it is hilarious. He compares his approach to tunings to the Russian political system, and his instructions to his sound man can only be described as individual ("kick in the echo when I reach the Faux David Gilmour warble" or "make it sound like I am backed by Mott The Hoople, but with Pete Thomas on drums")....
He describes one song as Victorian, a wealth of flags, an excorable death wish...but however Peter Cook-like and strange his explanations are, the songs are great. The Lizard, September Cones, I Often Dream Of Trains, The Shuffle Man, The Museum Of Sex, Queen of Lies, plus my favourite - Brenda's Iron Sledge.
Rather than leave the stage for the encore, he is joined by support act Jessica Lee Morgan, and her bass player, Chris Thomas. The trio give his songs a sharper sound, and Jessica's vocals really sync with Robyn. It's a great ending, as Robyn announces they will evaporate now, and they finish with Airscape. It's great and as he sings "Where angels hover, I'll hover too", they do indeed fade away...
Gill has loved it, as have I and I will definitely be picking up a copy of Shufflemaina! when it's released. And more gigs at the splendid Lighthouse in Deal are on the cards.