We left a gloriously sunny Oxford afternoon to arrive in a gloriously damp and dismal Cambridge evening about three hours later. After having too much to eat at Footlights, we trundled along to the Boat Race.
As more people poured into the tiny venue, the atmosphere became increasingly charged with excitement. Great things were going to happen. This was confirmed by a certain Kimberley Rew mingling with members of the audience. We waited...
Suddenly a towering man took the stage, told us a story about war planes flying over a landscape populated by giant chess knights with beams emerging from their eyes that when broken cause a toilet to flush in Wisbech (pronounced wiz-beach). And then he sang us a song requesting that we do not ask him about Gene Hackman. And from then on the audience was his...
The set list:
And how did Robyn sound? Excellent. Completely on form; faultless guitar, singing and harmonica; and some stories and not-so-subtle lyric changes to keep us amused. And Kimberley did a great job, especially with the backing vocals; and the two of them looked really happy to be playing together. All in all, one of the best gigs I've been lucky enough to see.
Wisbech on ya,
Fri, 18 Jul 1997
From: "NORMAN PARKER
Subject: The Boat Race Gig
Robyn took to the stage wearing a coloured shirt with a small 'hands' print on it, picked up an acoustic (dunno what kind - I' m not a muso). He began with an initial story about the Baby Jesus pick, then moved on to the Virgin Mary pick (Robyn's preference)..
On his return he was wearing the white shirt with black polkadots, and picked up the blue electric.
Began with a storming I Am Not Me (although I must admit a bias here, that's one of my faves).
Then came (although not necessarily in this order), My Wife And My Dead Wife, a rocking Clean Steve (great to hear this again), I'm Only You, and a jangly rendition of Beautiful Girl.
Back on (same shirt/guitar), asks if Kimberley Rew is here, and Kimberley climbs on stage to a fair amount of applause (sorry, can't remember his shirt, but I don't think it means as much!)
They kick off their set with a great Kingdom Of Love, then an awesome Insanely Jealous (my fave SB song).
We then got an understated IODOT, followed by an amusing wacky improv intro about sleeping in a hotel room with a towel over your face to avoid the fumes (pronounced FOOOMS, in a deep and exaggerated manner), which drifted into almost total gibberish in various odd accents.
Kimberley was just standing there, giving Robyn a wonderful bemused look that said to all "what the hell is he talking about" !
This led into a superb Waterloo Sunset, which was the highlight of the gig for me.
Then into Beautiful Queen - played somewhat differently here, considerably extended, with a lot of 70's style prog rock guitar noodling.
Not to my own taste (I prefer BQ simple), but went down well.
Final encore - Queen Elvis, solo, and wonderful.
About 90 minutes in all.
Robyn was obviously relaxed, and seemed to really enjoy playing alongside
At the end, Kimberley packed up his own guitar, and carried it out himself - it's good to see success and money hasn't changed him.
I got the feeling he was happy to be playing there in his hometown with his old bandmate, just for fun.
Saw him again outside in the car park, loading up his gear, and driving off.
Robyn apparently wasn't in the mood to chat/sign, but then a few folks had stuff taken up to his dressing room to be signed.We hung around a bit longer, and he came down (there were only about 20 people left by then).
He signed a few more bits, and seemed happy to chat to the faithful few.He reckons the Storefront film might make it to cinemas in the UK, but will probably come out on video towards the end of the year, and then turn up on Channel 4 (our kind of minority and arts channel). He also said that he is trying not to play any of the stuff which will be in the film, so it doesn't get boring for the fans.
He mentioned that they are trying to get Gene Hackman to appear in the video !While getting a ticket-stub signed (didn't come prepared), I asked him if there were any plans to release Waterloo Sunset - He smiled at me, and said SOMEONE already had !
He mentioned that he had been playing that song 25 years ago in his first band, and it was only a couple of years back that he finally got it right !He mentioned another Cambridge gig (some outdoor event, apparently in the car park of The Junction, on August 23rd - I'll post more details when I get them), and another fan asked him if it would be worth going to, and would it be any good :)
At the very end, when the venue staff were trying to clear everyone out, I asked Robyn if he would mind if I took a photo of him (I had refrained from doing so during the gig, as it would have been too intrusive).He said "sorry, no, I don't come out well in photos - I always have a f**k off and die look on my face". With that he smiled again, and then was gone.
My pal Scruff managed to snag the setlist, but I don't have it to hand right now. It did however include a few different songs, including Heliotrope.Also, the Kinks song had an alternative, Tired Of Waiting.This same pal also sneaked up on the stage and pinched the towel Robyn had wiped his face with !
Another fan picked up the glass of water RH had been drinking from, and was 'anointing' various fans. Wonder if he a fully fledged cult member ?!