Robyn Hitchcock & Emma Swift - Live From Home Sweet Quarantine Beatles By Request Part 6
I’ve been following Robyn and Em’s streaming shows from the beginning, using the StageIt platform (www.stageit.com). This one had to be one of the best: an all-Beatles request show. The streaming on my end was terrible, so I missed the first song, ‘Back In The U.S.S.R.’ and only caught the end of what sounded like a beautiful ‘Dear Prudence.’ They were both singing and Emma remarked that Robyn was singing too loud in her ear, to which Robyn commented on his fresh breath and proclaimed it “A Minty Loudness.”
Adrienne: I did catch Back in the U.S.S.R., which was upbeat and energetically heart-felt. Later in the show, Em confessed this was her “request,” which Robyn took as a fairly stealthy way to start the show. “Dear Prudence” featured beautiful harmonies by the pair, a song that supports their blended voices perfectly.
The duo stuck into ‘She Loves You’: fun, upbeat, and irresistible. After the song Reg remarked that this was The Beatles period “before the drugs, when they were full of pep.” Perry the stuffed Lobster made an appearance, then they played a stunning version of George Harrison’s ‘Something,’ Robyn really getting all the licks in on his acoustic and Emma singing this one solo, beautifully. The twosome appeared very relaxed in their living room, particularly Robyn, who seemed to be in his element with the material.
At this point, Emma left to get tea, and Reg played a nice solo version of ‘Things We Said Today.’ After he got a cup of tea and they did a very cool version of ‘Old Brown Shoe,’ the end of which was highlighted by their one-eyed Scottish Fold cat, Tubby, appearing on the back of the couch. After some parading of Tubby, Reg and Em did a wonderful version of ‘Across The Universe.’ It was really poignant and strong. They then attempted a Wings tune, ‘Band On The Run,’ which had a lengthy interruption in the middle as the two talked. The lyrics about being “stuck inside of four walls” were very apt.
Next up, a Ringo solo tune, they did a moving version of ‘Photograph,’ giving the song extra gravitas, something Ringo’s slightly ponderous version doesn’t seem to tap. Then came ‘A Day In The Life,’ a surprisingly good cover for just two voices and an acoustic guitar. They shouted out to all the health care workers, grocery workers, and other essential workers. Robyn and Em finished up with a stellar version of ‘The Ballad Of John And Yoko,’ and the show was over. There’s no doubt that this music is in Robyn’s DNA, he seemed at ease with all the songs and even the hard guitar bits. Emma Swift is a terrific singer and stood out, especially on ‘Something.’ I can’t wait to hear what they do next.
Robyn Hitchcock and Emma Swift - Live From Sweet Home Quarantine Part. 7
After their triumphant all-Beatles show from last week, Robyn and Emma were back on their couch at their home in Nashville to stream the 7th show of their Wednesday night series. The introductions were pleasant, and Perry the stuffed lobster made an appearance, Robyn wondering “What furry crustacean reminds you of Rod Stewart?” They launched into ‘Uncorrected Personality Traits’ from I Often Dream Of Trains, with more than a little giggling between the duo.
Speaking about the quarantine, Robyn mentioned “by the Socratic method we are furniture.” They explained they would do a Beatles cover that was not requested last week, and then did a stirring version of ‘Help!’ Emma described Robyn as “The Beatle no one asked for,” and Robyn laughed out loud. They then did ‘So You Think You’re In Love’ from Perspex Island, one of Reg’s poppier songs, and the duo killed it, with Emma showing a 1977 Australian tea towel used to wipe Robyn’s brow. Next up was ‘Madonna Of The Wasps,’ a staple of their live set, beautifully done, followed by ‘Balloon Man’ (see our SGS Podcast on this single at tinyurl.com/zubrobyn) which he admitted was not a favorite among his own songs but he did mention it had made him the most money.
The next ‘dismalia’ tune was introduced as “from one of my recent divorces” and they did ‘Trouble In Your Blood‘ from The Man Upstairs, a very Dylan-like tune. The Beatles showed up again with ‘Rain,’ where Em and Reg turned this psychedelia into a sunny, sweet pop song. Lovely. Robyn seemed very relaxed and Emma was great, looking especially beautiful with her hair up, like an early 1960’s film star. They continued to sing wonderfully together, but Reg went solo for the alternately tuned and carefully picked ‘Heliotrope’ from Moss Elixir, a wonderful little tune. Tubby the cat made an appearance and they discussed his love for romantic comedies “Tubs turns out to be a rom-com freak...who knew?”
They had a bit of a dodgy time with The Soft Boys’ ‘Brenda’s Iron Sledge’ (“please don’t call me Reg...that’s not my name”), with an extended middle discussing Waiting For Godot, but it was all good fun.They ended up with ‘I Want To Tell You About What I Want,’ a truly great tune from the recent Robyn Hitchcock record on Yep Roc, and, after Robyn showed off his impressive Dalek voice (from the BBC’ s Doctor Who), they finished up with about half of ‘You & Oblivion’ before the stream cut off for time. Another wonderful show. I would have liked to hear Emma get her own song, but these two are so charming and entertaining, I will happily wait until next time. They are holding shows Wednesday evenings at 9 Eastern via StageIt, with a Friday afternoon quasi-encore (some songs may differ) geared to the European audience.
Robyn Hitchcock and Emma Swift - Live From Sweet Home Quarantine Part. 8
Tonight’s streaming show from Robyn and Emma seemed to concentrate on some of their more reflective songs, and this night was especially a triumph. For the first time, Robyn played his old, battered Telecaster (first time playing electric guitar on the stream) and it sounded great. They opened with ‘If You Were A Priest,’ with excellent harmonies and Reg in his big polka-dot shirt. They then did ‘A Skull, A Suitcase, and A Long Red Bottle of Wine,’ a slow, beautiful rumination on death. Afterwards Emma said “one man’s dismal is another man’s affirmation” to which Reg snapped back “Well, look at the success The Bible’s had.”
Back to acoustic, they did ‘Mr. Kennedy’ from the Soft Boys reunion Nextdoorland record, after which they discussed the polka dot shirt, Robyn saying he picked it up from Ringo then Dylan because “by then I had already contracted The Beatles.” Robyn played a beautiful version of ‘I’m Only You’ from Gotta Let This Hen Out, a delicate riff and a beautiful melody, with a long guitar solo at the end. Emma got her own new song, ‘Teach Me How To Be Small,’ a complete knockout with her powerful, evocative voice and terrific lyrics. I cannot wait for her new record. They kicked off this part of the set with ‘No, I Don’t Remember Guilford,’ one of Robyn’s saddest songs with a beautiful melody. Emma then left to make tea and Robyn was solo.
Using his Telecaster again, he did a pensive version of ‘I Often Dream Of Trains.’ Switching to acoustic, he then did ‘1970 In Aspic,’ a standout song from his recent Robyn Hitchcock, an all-around-great record. Em returned with Tubby the cat, the “Earl of Tubbance appears,” and “off he goes.” They discussed who would play Tubs in a movie, Emma said Timothee Chalomet as he was “the thinking person’s crumpet.”
Midway into encore time, Robyn and Em did a great ‘Cynthia Mask’ from EYE, their voices working so well together. They mentioned the Friday afternoon show would be all Syd Barrett, and Robyn said they would do their “customary chaotic fadeout,” as they got to play about half of ‘Antwoman’ before time ran out.
Another great show with some of my favorite Reg songs, and the extra bonus of fantastic new Emma Smith songs. These two are really on a roll!