Robyn Hitchcock – Live at Eddie’s Attic

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Sometimes I write a concert review, and sometimes I stretch it out to recount the overall experience.   Three Taverns Brewery was step one for the day.  Warmed from that, my concert buddy and I walked a fair distance to Decatur CD, which neither of us had visited before.

Who’s to say what treasures Decatur holds?  Other than activities on the Square, neither of us get there often.  Interesting restaurants, taverns, and shops abound.  And I certainly wouldn’t have guessed that Atlanta’s best CD store was there as well (granted that the category is a dwindling universe).

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The quick glance confirms that the return of vinyl is real, that the store hasn’t prostituted itself to comics, collectibles and the like to round out a business model, and that what they choose to inventory is carefully considered.

One of my favorite bands is Renaissance, a 70’s progressive rock band of whom most people have never heard.  Not only did they have a handful of their CDs, but they even have a divider with their name. 

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Checking other artists like Zappa, Springsteen and The Moody Blues, I found that there is generally one copy of about every album in the artist’s catalog.  That’s not universally true, but for those who are of a certain age and still appreciate physical musical products, they’re likely to scratch as many CDs as they can afford off of their want list.  The humor, though, is free.

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Next up was the Dancing Goats Coffee Bar.  The concert buddy needs his afternoon fix, which I just can’t comprehend.  Nevertheless, hot chocolate?  Sure.

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Next up:  Food, which we had long planned a return to the Brick Store Pub, who serve a quality variety of draught beers, including a Belgian Beer Bar, for which we had very little time.

We’re losing our touch. 

A couple weeks ago, we missed half a show.  By this point, the 3rd in our party had joined us and called to confirm the time that Hitchcock would take the stage.  That type of detail probably speaks to why his clients choose him.  Anyway, the math resulted in all of 35 minutes to enjoy rush through dinner.  What’s up with a 7:00 concert on a Saturday night?  We thought doors opened around then.  (Answer: there was a later show featuring a different musician).

Brick Store Pub, we hardly knew ye, though we knew ye long enough for a quick bite and a beer.  Sigh.

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Now, let’s see... Oh yeah, Robyn Hitchcock.  Alright, he gets bonus points for his show the night before, as related to us by the owner of Decatur CD.  A dim stage, lighted pumpkins, and songs with a theme: “Chinese Bones,” “Creeped Out,” “A Skull, a Suitcase, and a Long Red Bottle of Wine,” “When I Was Dead,” “You and Oblivion,” “My Wife and My Dead Wife,” “Ghost Ship,” “Sounds Great When You’re Dead,” “The Ghost in You” – clever!

Now it’s the day after Halloween.  And it’s time to see the show!

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Err, yeah.  The darkness was a novelty during the first song, despite a knowing feeling that this is going to be all that you’re going to get.  It’s a “really?” after the second, somewhat heightened by the observation that you’re a pessimist.  And, it’s a “close your eyes and imagine you’re listening to a live CD on really good headphones” acquiescence for the remainder of the show music.

Jerk.

With some sort of quantum programming sophistication or a token charitable act by Helios, my camera found light where there was none and rendered a picture. 

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Which is nice, but the former picture is the concert memory.

As for the music, I’ve been familiar with Hitchcock for decades but never really listened to his music carefully.  I did listen to his new album, The Man Upstairs,  and it’s a well acclaimed if stark or minimalist recording, half of which are cover songs.  To thwart my supposed familiarity, he announced something similar to “My latest album is for sale (points through a door), but I’m not playing anything from it.”  Actually, he did end up playing “San Francisco Patrol.”

Hitchcock plays a fine acoustic guitar and has a voice that seems as clear and high today as it did in the 80’s.   His banter was often humorous, such as bashing the Scottish, Irish, Welsh and British plus the song’s unlikely candidacy for the London Olympics theme by way of introducing “Dismal City.”  Otherwise, his comments were at times random, speaking at times to either his cleverness or arriving at an uncomfortable dead end.  I give him points for trying, though.  None of it sounded rehearsed.

For the encore, he played “other people’s songs.”  This included Dylan’s “Not Dark Yet,” Nick Drake’s “River Man,” Neil Young’s “For the Turnstiles” and “Motion Pictures,” Velvet Underground’s “All Tomorrow’s Parties,” and perhaps the best of the night, Syd Barrett’s “Aunt Gigolo.”  I would suppose that if he listens to a satellite radio station, it would be a “deep cuts” channel.

I would normally offer ratings on a scale of 1 to 5, but I’ll refrain here.  I enjoyed the music, but I don’t know enough of them to figure out whether he played the really good stuff or held something back.  I do know the encores were excellent, and the crowd (always quiet and respectful at Eddie’s), was very appreciative.  So, imagine you were there, you’re a fan, you liked what you heard, and then subtract 1.5 stars for his fear of the light.

Sheesh.

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