Monday, December 3, 2007

A Holiday Story Involving Robyn Hitchcock

The holiday season has arrived, and it's time to get merry for the great annual celebrations of family, friendship, and consumer excess. Saturday evening found Mrs.5000 and myself decking the proverbial halls. Holding off on the exterior lights because of the predicted Great Storm of 2007 (a bit of a disappointment, frankly) we were otherwise wholeheartedly getting our yule on, assembling and then trimming the "tree" to a lovely soundtrack of carols and seasonal songs. Nice.
[Right: The "Tree"]

I'm not sure what made me think to check the calendar, but after I did I came back downstairs to herald, as it were, an abrupt change of mood. "Remember how we got tickets to Robyn Hitchcock?" I asked. "Well, that show is coming right up. In fact, it's in half an hour." Nimble and spontaneous despite our advanced years, we promptly started down the aging hipster's pre-show checklist, finding shoes with the best possible arch support and so on. Then, off to the Doug Fir.

Robyn Hitchcock is the elder statesman of a whole genre of punkish, folkish, absurdist rock music, and he clearly relishes that role. Now, it can't really be said that he brought his "A" game on Saturday. He ran into trouble with each of his first three songs, then stopped the show to scold somebody in front for talking. Still, Robyn Hitchcock's "B" game is better than many a lesser band's perfect execution, and when he followed the rocky start with an absolutely glowing rendition of the lovely "No, I Don't Remember Guildford," he would have won me back even if he had lost me in the first place.

[Right: We Had Fun]

For most of the show, Hitchcock -- whose stage persona and musical muse are equal measures Bob Dylan and Zaphod Beeblebrox -- was backed by his alt-80s supergroup, the Venus 3. I'm not sure if any of these guys really need the money; even if they do, it is clear that they thoroughly enjoy playing music for an appreciative small-club audience. When I grow up, I want to be just like that. The surreal encore medley took the cake: a transition from a rave-up reading of the Velvet Underground's "Heroin" to, of all things, the Doors' "The End," the latter performed absolutely straight-faced even in its most ridiculous aspects ("The killer woke before dawn.... and he put his boots on!").

We were by the stairs, and Peter Buck (of R.E.M., also one of the Venus 3), who I regarded as a figure of nearly divine status during my undergraduate years, kept brushing by us as he came and went during the opening act (one Sean Nelson, who was quite good). Towards the end of the show, I noticed that Decemberist Colin Meloy was standing immediately behind Mrs.5000. In younger life, all of this rock and roll made physically incarnate would have sent me into a swoon. Now, it just made me think, "Wow, I'll have to put this in the blog."

Robyn Hitchcock and the Venus 3


Boo said...

I might still swoon but for sure blogging about it would come to mind. What a cool venue. And fun was had to boot and before dawn. That rocks.

Glad to hear the storms that way were not as bad for you. I was a bit worried reading about it.

Now to look at that quiz sans wiki.

Rebel said...

You kids are too cool for school.

Did Mrs.5K get Peter Buck to sign her boob?

Bridget said...

Gotta say, Mr. M5K - I love the decked halls and the decked blog! Way to do the digital decoration!

Anonymous said...

In answer to Rebel's question: I always find that sort of thing a little awkward, so I asked him not to.

Chance said...

Wow, that was a night to remember! I'm hugely envious.

Rebel said...

LMAO! It's probably better not to make M5K jealous.

fingerstothebone said...

Nice Christmas-y banner.

The [Cherry] Ride said...

I too have a fondness for Mr. Hitchcock. "Madonna of the Wasps" was a favorite in college (!).

So how is the Doug Fir for shows?

Michael5000 said...

@rebel: If there was any boob signing, it would have had to be while I was in the restroom.

@bridget & fingers: Thanks! Thought I'd spread some holiday cheer for passers-by.

@chance: I'm almost envious of myself. Except that doesn't make sense. But you get the idea.

@[Cherry]: We really LIKE the Doug Fir. It is comfortable and pretty laid back, at least for the kind of shows that we go to. It has the reputation of being the hippest spot in town, though, and my thought on that is that if a couple of geezers like the 5000s feel like they fit in there, it really SHOULDN'T be that. We shouldn't even be allowed IN the hippest spot in town, on general principle.