Friday, October 26, 2012

Thursday night review: Robyn Hitchcock @ Doug Fir 10/25/12

I was dog-tired and sick last night, but that didn't prevent me from going out to Doug Fir Lounge to view and hear one of my all-time favorite songwriters, Robyn Hitchcock. upon walking in the door at the club, I was overcome by the thick rock sound of Peter Buck's solo band. Pete sings in a rough voice with a limited range, but it worked well with the mid-tempo, even-handed garage style of his band. Somehow towing the line between professional polish and raw rawk vibe, I caught a few tunes in the midst of the crowd and then quaffed a few beverages for good health and wellness, I didn't at first want to see the Young Fresh Fellows, just because I harbor a somewhat of a grudge against Scott McCaughey  (for being omnipresent in the NW.) That bit of mean-spiritedness aside, YFF totaly rocked my night and I immediately got up from the bar when they started. Duh! Guitarist Kurt Bloch is in the band. I forgot about that. And the drummer's singing and peppy stage presence was great. They covered, "Picturebook," by the Kinks and many of their own classics from the 1980s, including "Mojo Working" and several others that I remembered from long ago. Onward through the night, I slipped into the crowd into the mid-front section and prepared for an experience with one of my all-time heros. His first several songs all sparkle out of his acoustic guitar, his voice purely Robyn, its sound wrapping around all of us present. Something that I love about RH is his ability to sing very low at times, richly delivering his sardonic lyrics. Highlights for me were the opener, "Only the stones remain," along with, "The wreck of the Arthur Lee," which blew my mind with its double-entendre chorus, "Be-lieve in Love.." I hadn't heard that one before last night. Ok...I am a geek. He brought up an additional, fuzzy-haired singer to sing harmonies on, "Queen Elvis," and had the dude up for some time. Later, Colin Malloy from Decemberists got up and sang at one point as well. I kind of lost interest when the additional musicians Peter Buck, Scott McCaughey and Bill Reiflin came up to support him.I know these guys are all heavies, but the consistency of their back-up band offerings are not lighting my inner torch. I have enjoyed the same style of show from Robyn and his same NW crew for several go-rounds now. Its a big friend-fest, but I long for some new direction from RH that will blow my mind, something different, either solo or with some stranger musical amalgamation. Maybe I should have submitted my request on a bar napkin - a nasty note, requesting his submission to this particular fan's needs, but no. I understand the complexities of balancing the delivery of music-by-rote when life's other demands seem to be beating the louder drum. I just like it when my heroes evolve and indulge their whimsy in new ways. Oh well, I am a hypocrite - I like the greatest hits package-shows too. I am real happy that I even went. It's a struggle against habit to go out sometimes, but we all need to be reminded of what the other people in our town look like, what they drink, how they talk, how they smell and also how they comment to their friends about music that you are intimate with. People always talk about 'Portland hipsters', but honestly most everyone looked pretty normal at last night's show. Normal, middle-aged-and-younger crowd, wearing sweaters and glasses. I always feel like a geek inside when I go mentally through my day; turns out I am just one of many geeks. Viva geek homogenization!

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