Saturday, September 22, 2007

robyn hitchcock at the end of the road

Seeing Robyn Hitchcock at the End Of The Road last week was a privilege. Over the last twenty five years his brand of whimsical, psychedelic pop has been gradually refined to the point where now, despite his advanced years and shock of white hair, he is arguably making better music than ever before. At the End Of The Road his show, only one performance off headlining the second stage (which tells you a lot about the excellent music taste of the festival organisers), was one of the clear highlights of the weekend.

Performing with Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones (don't let that put you off) and his niece (who plays the saw), Hitchcock was debonair, dry and - musically - absolutely phenomenal. As befitting an artist who has written a song called 'I Like Bananas Because They Don't Have Any Bones' his songs are frequently charming and hilarious, but they're equally moving, the currents of emotion carried by the idiosyncratic frailty of Hitchcock's voice.

At the same time, his playing surprises me by being exceptionally fluent and able (I don't mean that I didn't expect him to be talented, merely that the naivety of his sound often masks the musicianship). Classics like 'I Often Dream of Trains' are impossibly beautiful, at once childlike and mature. The newer material, much of it originating from his sessions with Peter Buck last year, stand up admirably.

As I said earlier, I left feeling privileged - many artists delight, but only a few really reach out and touch you. Hitchcock is a master in this second category.


Anonymous said...

Hi Jonathan --

"I Like Bananas Because They Have No Bones" is actually an old song from the 1930's.

jonathan said...

Ah, you are quite right. Thank you, anonymous fact-checker.