It was a bit of a disappointment when I heard that the concert on Saturday (April 18) by Robyn Hitchcock had been moved from Epiphany to Logan Square Auditorium. Am I ever going to get to see a show at Epiphany? We’ll see. The owner of the Empty Bottle, which booked the concert, explained in an e-mail that the venue is working on some “issues” with the city about holding concerts at Epiphany, which also happens to be a church. I hope they work out whatever those issues are for future shows.
Well, as cool as it would have been to see Hitchcock playing inside a church, the show he played at Logan Square was still pretty cool. This is the second time I’ve seen Hitchcock playing with his latest backup band, the Venus 3, which includes R.E.M.’s Peter Buck on guitar, Scott McCaughey of the Minus Five and Young Fresh Fellows on bass, and Bill Rieflin on drums. It’s a great band that fleshes out the quirky pop of Hitchcock’s songs much like the Egyptians used to, and this lineup is particularly strong whenever the songs sprawl out a little bit into drony guitar solos. (It’s interesting to see Buck, whose regular gig is with a more famous band, taking the back seat here to Hitchcock, whose music he clearly admires.)
The set included several songs off the new album Goodnight Oslo, but I was most excited to hear some Hitchcock oldies, including “Brenda’s Iron Sledge,” “I Often Dream of Trains” and “Only the Stones Remain.” Hitchcock has had so many songs over the years (and so many good ones) that it’s impossible for him to play every song in one show that a hardcore fan would want, but he did a good job of drawing tunes from throughout his catalogue Saturday night. And as always, Hitchcock was witty and surreal in his stage banter. Highlights included his offbeat explanation of reincarnation.
Chicago’s Dag Juhlin played a solid opening set of solo acoustic music, peppered with his own humorous banter.