Robyn Hitchcock and Emma Swift Live Stream Shows 30 -33
Robyn Hitchcock with Emma Swift Live From Sweet Home Quarantine (RH songs by request) Part 30
Robyn opened the show with part 2 of the Three Directions story, getting surreal, and then really surreal. First song was ‘Unsettled’ from Globe Of Frogs, a driving version with a bit of a strage, quiet single note breakdown. After, Reg mentioned he was taking off his spectacles because “he didn’t want to see anymore.” Next request was something from Dylan’s Time Out Of Mind, released on this date 23 years ago. Robyn did a very good version of ‘Cold Irons Bound,’ in kind of a blues shuffle version, As usual with Dylan, Robyn’s melodic voice and clarity with the lyrics bring the song to life.
Emma Swift appeared, wearing “100% polyester” in tribute to the recently departed Helen Reddy, the famous Australian singer and 70’s feminist icon. The duo launched into ‘Filthy Bird,’ one of my favorite songs from Moss Elixir. They knocked it out of the park on this one. Emma talked about Robyn’s new haircut, no longer looking like Karl Lagerfeld. Going for the ‘raga’ intro, they did ‘Madonna Of The Wasps,’ another very strong Robyn tune only improved with Em’s singing.
They spoke of “energy vampire” Colin Robinson and the TV show What We Do In The Shadows,’ then Emma took a solo singing tour on Leonard Cohen’s ‘Chelsea Hotel #2,’ which was sad, beautiful, and amazing. They talked about Leonard Cohen, and the California fires. Emma asked if they had something “fun” to play, Reg said “no.” He did ‘City Of Shame’ from Black Snake Diamond Role, which was straightforward and wonderful. After they talked about Scott McCaughey and Bill Reiflin, and did ‘Up To Our Nex,’ from Goodnight Oslo, which was surprisingly poppy.
After a lengthy discussion of liquor and quarantine, Robyn played ‘Young People Scream,’ hitting a high note that made Emma laugh out loud. They closed out with ‘Queen Elvis,’ always one on their best, while Em held Ringo the cat. These two are relentlessly fun and always, always make me feel better. Thanks (Don’t Call Me) Reg and Em.
Robyn Hitchcock with Emma Swift Live From Sweet Home Quarantine (John Lennon Birthday Week Edition) Part 31
Because of the Vice-Presidential debate, a poll was taken by the Wednesday Groovers (on Facebook) and Robyn and Emma decided to move the live stream this week a day early, and at 8 pm Eastern. Robyn appeared and said there would be no stories tonight, just Lennon and Lennon-related songs. He started off, solo, with a really super version of ‘Gimmie Some Truth.’ As I mentioned in an earlier post, the protest songs are getting sharper. He introduced the next song as “one of the B-sides of the first Beatles record I ever owned.” He did a terrific version of ‘I’ll Get You.’ It’s obvious the Beatles are deep in Robyn’s DNA. He commanded this one.
He started another song ‘Everybody Loves You (When You’re Down And Out)’ but quickly stopped, saying it was the wrong one. Then right into ‘Isolation,’ a magnificent, simple song that Reg killed, wrenching his voice perfectly. Then Emma Swift appeared, after a bit of banter, they both sang on a lovely, folkie tinged version of ‘Rain.’ This had a serious Summer Of Love vibe and their voices were great together. Emma mentioned she had a new, original song coming out soon, ‘The Soft Apocalypse.’ They went into a mind-blowingly good version of ‘Dear Prudence,’ Reg nailing the fingerpicked guitar. This is one of my favorite songs, ever, and these two really got it.
Emma mentioned The White Album was her favorite, and she grabbed their cat Tubby for a brief cameo. Tubby was not having it tonight, but they launched into a bright, peppy version of ‘Oh Yoko.’ After discussing shoplifting and smoking weed, they did a driving version of ‘Mind Games,’ Em’s harmonies really shining. After, Emma discussed how ‘Mind Games’ was a “pagan song” and theorized that Bowie may have been an influence.
Reg, solo again, did a pretty version of ‘Yes It Is,’ a difficult song to play with some tricky harmonic twists. He did well with it, then straight into a folk-rock version of ‘#9 Dream.’ Emma reappeared with Perry the Lobster, and the duo did a stunning version of ‘Across The Universe,’ another of my favorite songs ever. The singing and playing were extraordinary. After a discussion of improving their amount of “brain RAM,” Reg mentioned that Andy Partridge showed him how to play ‘Ram On,’ but then mentioned this was a Lennon show so we would not be hearing that one. Next was a loose, fun version of ‘The Ballad Of John And Yoko.’
Reg discussed that he was visiting his therapist and he was bringing Perry as his “comfort lobster.” The duo then did a sparkling version of ‘Jealous Guy.’ stopped half way through, and into ‘Whatever Gets You Through The Night,’ a pleasant and unexpected cover. Germaine the Koala appeared, Em mentioning he was a “rocket koala,” to which reg said “it’s going to be a long long time.” Running short on time, they did a tiny scrap of ‘She Loves You,’ and the show was over.
This was a stellar, magnificent show, Robyn knows his Beatles/Lennon inside and out. Emma is always the secret sauce. It’s so fun to watch them interact, they are like a comedy duo in between songs. It was all just wonderful.
Robyn Hitchcock with Emma Swift Live From Sweet Home Quarantine (RH songs by request- UK and Europe Friendly) Part 32
It takes a lot for me to miss a Wednesday Groovers show (I’ve only missed one previous), but I had to watch the Spinal Tap reunion for Pennsylvania Democrats at the same time on Wednesday. So luckily I can still catch the Friday show.
The show opened with another episode of the story ‘The Three Directions.’ After the surreal reading, Robyn said “Here beginneth the musical portion of the show,” but he had some issues tuning the guitar. Once resolved, he played ‘Acid Bird’ from Black Snake Diamond Role. Great song but seemed a bit tentative, surprisingly. More tuning, and he said he would play a song he hadn’t played in thirty years. This was ‘The Cars She Used To Drive’ from Groovy Decay, which was surprisingly breezy. There was a break to adjust Reg’s hair. He then did ‘Strawberry Mind,’ from Fegmania!, a surprising and welcome song, sung in his higher register, Robyn seemed to get his groove on this one. He was commanding and compelling after the tentative beginning.
Reg switched to a more-in-tune Gibson guitar and the wonderful Emma Swift appeared. The duo started with ‘Be Still’ from Love From London, as usual their voices were great together. Ringo the cat made a short appearance. They discussed ‘Detective Mindhorn’ from Robyn Hitchcock. This is a great, melodic tune, Beatle-esque and the vocals were impressive. Em and Reg were really having fun, cracking each other up. So much fun.
Emma said she had a new single coming out, and the duo played her song called ‘The Soft Apocalypse.’ Emma singing solo, this one was a show-stopper, a sad tale of quarantine. Emma is really finding her voice, this is a stunning song not immediately reminiscent of anyone. Really, really impressive. A discussion of the Velvet Underground ensued, and Emma went off-camera. Reg did ‘DeChirico Street’ from Moss Elixir, one of my favorite songs.
Tubby now made a brief appearance. Emma returned and they did ‘Winchester’ from Element Of Light. They play this one quite a bit, and Reg’s strumming combined with Emma’s backing vocals was very poppy and pretty. There was an extended discussion about the last time Reg wore ‘flares,’ and he said it was 1977. Eventually the duo played ‘Television’ from Spooked, which was a bit dismal and quite wonderful. The harmonies were outstanding on this one. It was a great ending to the show.
These two are to be commended for their fearlessness. Reg reached back to play some real oldies, and Emma’s new song was spectacular. There were tuning issues and Robyn seemed to be uncertain at the beginning, but they got the groove and had a great time playing for us. The fun spirit, the great songs, and the inane banter is infectious. Love on ya, Reg and Em!
Robyn Hitchcock with Emma Swift Live From Sweet Home Quarantine (RH songs by request) Part 33
The show started with a glimpse of Tubby and Emma Swift. Robyn mentioned that he was wearing his “Nick Lowe glasses,” and read one more chapter of his extended story ‘The Three Directions.’ He stopped the story in mid sentence, and picked up his acoustic and did ‘This Could Be The Day’ from 1984’s I Often Dream Of Trains. His playing was self-assured and the show was off to a good start. He then did the beautiful instrumental ‘Heartful Of Leaves’ from the same LP, his playing magnificent on a slow, Nick Drake inspired tune.
Then he did ‘Not Even A Nurse,’ an B-Side from Trains that was on the Yep Rock CD reissue. Reg said he’d never played it before. Emma appeared, and after some banter (her fantastic new song, ‘The Soft Apocalypse,’ is now out for download on Bandcamp). They did a very stripped down version of ‘I Used To Say I Love You,’ another Trains B-side from the Midnight Records CD reissue. Very pretty and sad dismalia with fantastic singing from the duo.
Perry the Lobster and Germaine the Koala appeared, and the duo did ‘Adventure Rocket Ship’ from Ole Tarantula! The duo were really on tonight, Emma doing a bit of counter melody. This is a wonderful, fun Reg song and they delivered it well. They discussed the song a bit, and after some tech adjustments, Emma sang Dylan’s ‘Simple Twist Of Fate’ from her covers LP Blonde On The Tracks (tinyurl.com/zubblonde). Her beautiful voice brought an emotional gravitas to this song only hinted at in the original.
Emma moved off camera, and Robyn said “he never plays this song” as an intro to ‘Mr. Deadly’ from Invisible Hitchcock. This is one I indeed never heard him play live, and acoustically it definitely had an early Bowie feel. He broke straight into ‘Don’t Talk To Me About Gene Hackman,’ an unlisted track from the Jewels For Sophia, a fan favorite and a hilarious song. Emma reappeared, they discussed Gene Hackman, with Emma mentioning she loved ‘twee English.’ Then they dedicated ‘Sometimes A Blonde’ to a couple of Groovers celebrating their fourth wedding anniversary. This Spooked track was perfect for Reg and Em. Totally beautiful. They discussed the songs they have left for the time. They did the bright and Beatley ‘Alright Yeah’ from Moss Elixir. Our duo were having a great time, Reg playing great guitar, and the two of them singing like angels.
They mentioned cats Tubby and Ringo were fighting just off camera and “a lot of shit was going down.” After some discussion, Reg said the next song was about his mother, with a lot of “macho ultraviolence” added. The duo did ‘Light Blue Afternoon’ from Tromso, Kaptein, a very strong Hitchcock tune with one of his signature melodies. To end up, they did a fast version of ‘The Queen Of Eyes,’ a classic song from The Soft Boys’ Underwater Moonlight. This one is a regular feature, and the duo did it justice.
They said their goodbyes, ending another remarkable show. Robyn and Emma having fun and at the top of their game. I loved the material from I Often Dream Of Trains and the B-Sides. Reg continues to bring up old songs that are done well, and always keeps it interesting. Emma, as always, is just a fantastic singer. I truly enjoyed every minute of this one.
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