Monday, March 28, 2005

3 for the Price of 2 (Robyn Hitchcock, The Dears and others)

On Thursday, I got out of work at 3:30 (I didn't have to come in on Friday since it was Good Friday and there was hardly anyone there due to it being spring break), so I was able to catch The Dears' instore at The Virgin Megastore at Union Square. They were supposed to start at 5:30, but due to some technical issues, they didn't get started until a little after 6. Nevertheless, they played 5 or 6 songs (I remember them opening with "Postcard from Purgatory" and they also played "The Second Part", "We Can Have It", "Who are You, Defenders of the Universe" and one other that I didn't recognize. After their set, they signed posters that they were giving away at the signing table and they also signed my No Cities Left CD insert. After The Dears' set, I left abruptly to catch a friend of mine perform in the 10th anniversary performance of The Bindlestiff Family Cirkus. She's a trapeze artist and she's awesome. There were also sword swallowers, magicians, jugglers and even some burlesque. I definitely recommend it if you wanna see something a bit off the beaten path.

Then the next night, there were 3 great shows going on, so I had to choose one. Weeks before, I'd agreed to see Robyn Hitchcock at Southpaw with some friends and one of them already bought a ticket for me, so even though The Kaiser Chiefs were playing Bowery Ballroom and The Dears were headlining at Maxwells, it was off to Park Slope to see Robyn, who I'd never seen before. Now don't get me wrong. It's not like I wasn't looking forward to seeing him because actually I really was looking forward to it. I've liked his stuff for a long time (though of his solo work, I'm only really familiar with the late '80s/early '90s A&M era stuff as well as his more recent material, not counting The Soft Boys' classic Underwater Moonlight). Nevertheless, I watched the excellent Jonathan Demme film Storefront Hitchcock a few days earlier to prepare and while I expected a good show, I didn't expect a mind-blowing extravaganza of the kind that we got. OK, so maybe it wasn't an extravaganza per se, but it was great. The show was driven by requests, so I and lots of others wrote down song requests on small pieces of paper and put them up on the stage for Robyn to read. Luckily, we were right up front, so putting the pieces of paper up on the stage was quite easy. Armed only with an acoustic guitar, he opened with Bob Dylan's "Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands" (well he only did a few minutes of it) and preceeded to do many more covers throughout the course of his 2-hour long set, including Syd Barrett's great "Gigolo Aunt", The Doors' "Crystal Ship" as well as songs by The Beatles and The Band. For about half of the set, his partner Denny (?) accompanied him on electric violin and that really added a strong flavor to songs like the 1993 album Respect's "The Arms of Love" (he also played the great "Driving Aloud" from the same album) and much to my delight, he also played "She Doesn't Exist" (which I requested). Oh and during the encore, we got The Soft Boys' "Queen of Eyes" and a song to close out the set about how "everyone knows that W sucks, but Rumsfeld is the antichrist". Indeed.

Well, since I missed The Dears' performance the night before at Maxwells due to seeing Robyn (who played at Maxwells last night; Maxwells and Southpaw have the same great booking agent, Todd), me and my friend went to see them open for Crooked Fingers last night at Bowery Ballroom. Outside, I ran into an acquaintance from Hoboken who was looking for a ticket (it was sold-out) not to see the headliners, but to see The Dears, who he's seen the night before at Maxwells and was so captivated that he tried to get in last night (I hope he made it in; I didn't see him inside). See, I told you all that their live shows are addictive. :-) Anyhow, The Dears played for a bit longer than they did on Thursday, but it was still a short set (about 45 minutes to an hour) since they were the openers. Boy were they cooking, though. They played all of the same songs that they played on Thursday, plus "Never Destroy Us" and "Death of all the Romance". They're getting more popular by the day (thanks to a lot of well-deserved UK hype) and they're playing their 1st headlining gig at the Bowery Ballroom on Saturday, June 11th.

As for Crooked Fingers, well by that point me and my friend were tired and we really came for The Dears (and again, I have a feeling that were plenty of others aside from us and the guy I ran into before we went in), so we listened to their set from the bar area and what I heard didn't impress me much at all. Maybe I had to be up there, but after watching Archers of Loaf twice during the '90s, I know that any Eric Bachmann project would probably be best listened to rather than looked at (in other words, though Archers put on a good show both times that I saw them, Bachmann had the stage presence of a wet noodle the last time I saw him, which was back in 1997). Anyway, it sounded like a bad Springsteen imitation to me, but they must be doing something right since they have their share of fans. Nevertheless, we left in the middle of it and old man that I am, I was happy to be home not too late.

So what about The Kaiser Chiefs, you ask? Well I'm a bit upset that I missed their show here on Friday since a few friends of mine went and got to hang out with Idlewild's Roddy Woomble (I should mention that I'm a huge Idlewild fan), who was there watching the show (and who's apparently a New Yorker now). However, luckily, they're playing Maxwells on Tuesday night and though it's on a weeknight and I'll be exhausted, I'm sure they'll be worth it since I've heard nothing but great things about their live set and I'm loving their album. Of course, I'll have a full report after the show.


Blogger successlessness said...

That was Deni Bonet that joined Robyn. She's in Storefront Hitchcokc and plays on Moss Elixir too.

10:17 PM

Blogger japanesegodjesusrobot said...

Thanks for the clarification. She's not related to Lisa, is she? :-)

10:12 PM


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