I have a short report now because no one else has said anything.
The show was great (how predictable)! Really, though, it was one of the better Robyn shows I've seen. His voice was in FINE form last night- hit all the high notes with near perfection. Gene Hackman and Jewels For Sophia were pulled out, as well as 1974. David Witzany will post the whole set list soon (right Dave?).
The sound at The House Of Blues was beyond words. It was really warm and intimate for a place that is so over the top in presentation. I guess I should say that the sound was great if you were one of the folks on the main floor (as were all the Fegs)- when you got up into the balcony or toward the back of the venue, the music was overtaken by the loud talking of folks who weren't there to see Robyn. This was my second venture to the House Of Blues, and the same thing happened at the last show. I'm amazed that folkswould plop down $18.50 on a Wednesday night for an artist they hadn't heard of or weren't a dedicated fan of. Is it just me, or is that strange? I guess that part of town (downtown) caters to the sort that have A LOT of expendible income.
As for my interview with Robyn, it was fab. Thanks to all of you who posted questions- many of them were asked. I'll be posting some answers later today or tomorrow.
1) The guy who yelled "nice shirt" to Robyn almost the second he hit the stage. Sent me into fits of laughter as Uncle Bobby had an a very generic white shirt! 'Twas a good one, as they say.
2) "Kingdom Of Love"
3) Tim freakin' Keegan! Great opening set and a wonderful sidekick to Robyn. Had Denni been there on "Beautiful Queen" to add the violin bit, the combination of Robyn, Tim's harmonies and guitar, and violin would have been transcendental. As it was, it was simply brilliant. My personal motto for the evening: "MORE TIM!!!!"
That's it for now. More later.
Blinking On And Off,
RobynH @ House of Blues Chicago Wed. 5.21.97
Setlist.More details tomorrow for those interested!
Date: Fri, 23 May 1997
From: donald andrew snyder
Subject: Re: Chicago show--observations
Some random things I noticed last night:
-Robyn's left thumb has a very long nail. Sort of werewolfish.
-There was a mic by his feet to pick up his tapping. Drummers aren't cheap. -
-He played more electric than acoustic. Alright Raaahhbon (as the guy next to me kept shouting).
--He was drinking coffee or something in a mug.
--Robyn is much taller than Tim, but Tim "lurches."
--Robyn blinks more than usual. The lights or maybe an eye job?
--The lights had absolutely nothing to do with the music. Tim was caught looking at them at one point.
--Robyn took a long time to come out (on stage) considering that there were no instruments to set up or tune.
Date: Fri, 23 May 1997
From: Hal Brandt
Subject: Chicago/SOUNDCHECK REPORT
Reports on the Chicago show:
SOUNDCHECK-Robyn and Tim did a lo-o-o-ng soundcheck (RH called it an "extended, unpaid rehearsal" to the soundman). I only (!) heard the last hour (it lasted close to two.) When I arrived on the scene, they were grooving on Hendrix with a great "Are You Experienced?" featuring a 5-7 minute solo electric rave out by Robyn! I was completely captivated at this point (there were only about 5 people in the room) and tried to act casual (expecting to be thrown out any second since I hadn't beeninvited) as they played "Jewels For Sophia" and another NEW SONG called "Elizabeth Jade" ("Elizabeth Jade/Elizabeth Jade/I love the way your triangle's displayed...") Then, Robyn hopped off stage and started roaming around while Tim did a couple by himself. Thinking my time observing was about to come to an end, I was pleasantly surprised as Robyn instead said 'hi' and signed my Royal Queen Albert promo CD, saying "Where'd you get that?!" I hung around and listened to Tim and after about three songs (with Robyn watching and listening), Tim said "Should we do some more together?" They then rehearsed that night's encore in order: Oceanside/Queen Of Eyes/Beautiful Queen (see previous post for complete setlist.) At one point, Robyn had the sound crew mic a board ("a thumping board") so he could stomp on it to keep time and make a percussive effect during his solos. He said he wished he had his pair of size twelve green suede shoes to thump with, but had left them at the Isle of Wight. The board effect worked great at the soundcheck, but by the time he tried to use it at the show, they forgot to pot it up for most of his solo even though he was stomping away!
Robyn also did a short verse of The Beatles "Here Comes The Sun". He stepped away from the mic looking for a Baby Jesus pick and sang to himself, "little darling, I see the ice is slowly melting.." I had my fingers crossed, but they launched into something else instead. What a tease!
From: Hal Brandt
Subject: Chicago/MERCH BOOTH
more random observations @ Chicago's House O' Blues:
The Merchandise ("Merch") booth on this "lung" of the tour features the same ol' upside down duck Moss Elixer shirts ("We're phasing out t-shirts, but we got some left."-RH) Replacing them, of course, are the much desired CONES! There were about 10-15 different ones that I saw (they all sold out...I'm really sorry, Susan!) The one I got has a series of figures in a trench coat with a black hat floating above (reminds me of Raymond Chandler Evening!) The sequential cartoon figures (6 total) morph into a smiling ten-handed clapping abstraction as the black hat changes into...a cone! These cones are all autographed, natch, and well worth the fifteen bucks you'll be happy to plunk down to own original RobynH art (now, if he'd only sell his paintings...)
My friend Dave's cone consists of a lighthouse which, as the sequence continues, sprouts a crab which rises up to proclaim "Yip!". Around the bottom are the words "All you gotta do is shine". As a fan of Robyn's art (almost as much as the tunes themselves), I was dazzled at the merch booth's display of these unique one-of-kind momentos. Sure wish that there was a way to see them all each night of the tour. All Robyn stuff (cones, copies of ME, shirts) were $15.
Also, on sale were copies of Homer's new CD single "Superkeen" ($5.) I bought it because it has Robyn on bg vocals on one of the four songs (the beautiful ballad "Toboggan"). I'm glad I did because I wasn't disappointed. Another song "The Shallow End" (which Tim did live) is also really well written, and "Superkeen" is some good Matthew Sweet-ish power pop. Even without RH, this is a good buy...well worth the fiver. Plus, you gotta see Robyn's lettering on the sleeve (cartoons spelling out "HOMER") and Michele does some logo art on the sleeve as well. Don't miss getting one.
The merch booth itself sported hand lettered signs by Robyn ("YAY! Hitchcock Merchandise") with the prices listed. Posters were also displayed (the Rhino one Jim Neill sent out and a WB Moss Elixer promo poster with an alternate shot of the ME cover photo). These weren't being sold and were all grabbed by eager fans. The walls were bare by the end of the night! Also on the table was a flyer designed by Robyn for ANTWOMAN (hi, Jennifer) giving the address and email ("temporary nest") and a cartoon of Antwoman herself including her stripes and Audrey Hepburn "feelers"!
Hoping this is of interest,
I was actually a little disappointed.
He seemed non-interested in being there. I believe Uncle Bobby needs to spend some more time in the studio soon. The songs were rushed and less inspired than his first Chicago gig this year..Warner has him on a leash and they're wheeling him around the country tobreak even on his record contract; and I don't Robyn cares for it one bit.
I believe it was tea in the mug and Robyn has a cold or something.I also really dig Tim and think he should join Andy, Morris, and the Man on their next collaboration; a very young Kim Rew sub. However, I liked the live violin support better.
More to come as I digest..........
> I was actually a little disappointed.
I had some of the same feelings. I thought it was because I had listened to a lot of '97 shows on tape leading up to the Chicago show, but the set seemed real routine to me.
As much as I like Tim (see below), the Deni shows were more transcendent. Also, dropping the format of the first leg of this tour (book readings, stage props) and not replacing them with anything makes it appear as if this leg is an afterthought or, as you suggest, a contractual obligation.
> I also really dig Tim
I'm really starting to
warm up to Tim. His persona seems to match Robyn's. I can see why they
are friends. Besides, Tim's presence may just have the effect of offsetting
Robyn's cynicism toward the record biz as Robyn gets to mentor the "Beautiful
Homer" and rediscover why he started down this road in the first place.
> Any Robyn, even lackluster Robyn, is better than most anything in the entire
Subject: Re: afterthoughts
> > I was actually a little disappointed.
You know, this really
disturbs me. Because I thought it was glorious! It makes me wonder if
I'm so blinded by Robynlove that I can't even tell these things. I did
think he seemed a bit tired, but other than that- he played beautifully
and he was in wonderfully good voice.
> As much as I like Tim (see below), the Deni shows were moreI would like to take this opportunity to say I preferred Tim's presence to Deni's. This is not a knock on Deni by any means! But I thought their voices blended wonderfully and I loved watching the fatherly/sonly affection between them. Plus, well, uh, all musical considerations aside, I think Tim is one absolutely adorable cupcake :).
Subject: Chicago/AFTERSHOW REPORT
Thanks to the efforts of the super friendly Jay Hedblade, here are some
observations from the Chicago aftershow on Wednesday:
In the room were RH, Tim, Jay, Dave 1&2, Susan, myself and an ex-DJ buddy of Robyn's called Terry.
Terry, it seems was the first guy in America to interview Robyn via a phoner back in 1984. Robyn really seems to be loyal to folks that help him out at this level, like Mark Ellen, Mark Radcliffe and Linda Ryan, and he seems very loyal to call letters like WXRT and KCRW. Trying not to be too much of a fanboy/taper geek, I still couldn't help but half interrogate him on points of interest (maybe to only me!) How often does the opporunity arise to chat on a relaxed, informal basis with an artist whose work I love? He even recognized me from saying 'hi' at the soundcheck earlier in the day!
So I quizzed away (hoping I wasn't hogging the floor)... I asked about his meeting with the Grateful Dead and about comics, but Jay had already covered that ground earlier in the day unbeknowns t o me (see Jay's earlier post). I then asked about the song title "The Feelers Was Everywhere" and Robyn seemed incredulous that I'd even heard it. He said he'd only played it that one time (KCRW 3.18.96, or on Unhatched Crablings II for you tape collectors)! I was asking about the origin of the phrase because it's starting to recur in lyrics (Antwoman's Audrey Hepburn feelers, and also in the new song "Jewels For Sophia")
He confirmed that it was thought up while recovering from a New Year's Eve hangover and it's really no more than a bit of free-association that he, Michele, Tim and Jen came up with that made them laugh hysterically at the time. At this point, I was ribbed by the group for being a bit obsessive with my Robyn tape listening (a fair cop!) and was forced to rush to my own defense, stating my case that Robyn is a prolific artist and I'm just interested in what he does/hearing it all.
Luckily, Robyn seemed to sense that I wasn't Mark David Chapman-esque, saying "people that hear everything get a whole different picture" and talked about the enjoyment of haunting record collector shops seeking the latest hidden gems. Musical Easter eggs, if you will. Even Tim Keegan confessed to being a Robynholic, asking whether I knew if the German "Alright, Yeah" flexi was still available in the BOB magazine (it is- in the current issue). I felt better, so I continued asking. I asked if he liked to hear tapes of himself and he said he usually listens to radio interviews afterwords because if he plays a new song, it's a good first demo recording to keep. Concerts? Not usually.
Why isn't Portland Arms out on CD? He said the Rhino reissues were his chance to rewrite history a little, and Portland Arms is a bit too silly and "collegiate" for his ears now and besides, it's already circulating on tape everywhere if you want it. Once again, a nod to the taper community! He talked about one day letting fans download demos and outtakes on the Internet, even though he remains anti-computer. It would be a subscription thing and a charge-by-song deal if it ever materializes. It's not soon forthcoming though, he was just projecting into the future. He expressed a bit of concern with this concept though, because he thought it might take the fun out of the aforementioned Easter egghunt for tracks. I asked about the hard-to find Dylan covers promo CD and how it frustrated collectors. He confirmed that it's a music licensing problem and he seemed to vaguely hint that they may make it available through Antwoman in the future after they clean up the remnants of Mrs.Wafflehead.
That's enough. Hope you liked these reports. Use 'em any way you want, woj! Thanks to Robyn and Tim for the memorable music and conversation.
Thanks also to those who shared it with me.
Now...what happened in Detroit? Anyone?
"J. B. Renoir"
Subject: One more Wednesday night
OK, here's my collective recollection of the Chicago show.
The good news is, a local Chicago cable program was on hand to film parts of the show, and Jay's interview with Robyn Wednesday afternoon. The bad news is, to help the group figure out what they wanted to film during the show, the whole set list was compiled beforehand, so there were no requests. The -really_ bad news is that that meant that I knew before the show began that Robyn wasn't going to do "Dead Wife". But the really good news is that Brian the balcony filmer what filmed from the balcony let me copy the set list, which is appended
hereto (with an approximation of some of Robyn's chats in brackets):
Acoustic:["1974 was like being at home, well enough to be out of bed but too sick to go out anywhere, and you look outside on a gray August afternoon and see your neighbor's clothes line. By 1974, the liberals had lost their steam, and the conservativeshad not yet counterattacked."]
["I saw Hendrix live the last time Jimi played in England. I saw a tape of it recently; Hendrix played like an animal; the original 12 bar blues tune disappeared completely beneath Jimi's wailings."]
The Wind Cried Mary
DeChirico Street[Exuent Tim]
I'm Only YouElectric Set:
I am not me["This is a song about my mother:"]
I Often Dream of Trains["This is where I want to be buried:"]
OceansideI see that my list differs from Hal's in two respects: We have Cynthia and Mary reversed, and he has no Heliotrope. I have to admit, I don't remember hearing the latter, but it was on Brian's list. I don't remember which order Robyn did the other two in.
I recall another comment Robyn made during the course of the evening,which has been alluded to on the list. It went something like:
"You know, these tours are really just to sell t-shirts. Mick Jagger told me that just last week, when we were skydiving. We had just jumped out of the DC-3, and he turned to me and said, 'You know, Robyn, the only reason for our tours is to sell t-shirts.' It was only after we reached the ground that I realized that Mick had nicked my wallet. Probably to buy Keith a birthday present. So I'm phasing them out. We've still got some out front, but that's it. instead, I've got some cones I've drawn on, and they're for sale out front, too."After the show, Jay (nearing godhood, on and off) Hedblade got Robyn's permission to bring a cadre of fegs to talk with him awhile. Among the things I recall, he said that he liked to have more material to choose from than just what would fit onto the album. He likened it to mineral water working its way down from a mountain to a glacial pool, and said that's why he prefers Queen Elvis to Globe of Frogs--therewas next to no material to select out from the latter. He said that as much as he liked all of the Elixir/Liquor material, he was glad that songs like Trilobite weren't on the CD, because they'd probably have worn out their welcome after a half dozen listenings or so. He also remarked that he wished he had the luxury of sitting on material for five years before deciding what was the best of it, but that, unlike Peter Gabriel, he wasn't that rich.
He also said that he doesn't plan to get involved personally with the Internet, because (while he doesn't mind his fan element here) he intends to make his decisions on albums and such on his own. He didn't rule out the possibility that maybe some day, after an album is released, the completists can order alternate takes and leftover songs via the Web (although he thought that would take most of the fun out of being a completist). On the subject of things that Fegmaniax were hoping to see on CD, he doesn't care that much for Portland Arms ("It was just a live set by some young guys at Cambridge"), so he's not anxious to see it re-released; he also doubted whether we'd see a CD of the Dylan show, either. He didn't seem to mind if we all do our completist best to get copies of the material, though.
Last memory: He started the show with a cotton shirt and vest, then switched to the polka dots. After the show, he was back in the original garb.
Whelp, that's all I can dredge up. Is someone collecting our collective recollections somewhere?
Here endeth the Chicago recollections