Robyn Hitchcock at Space

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Robyn Hitchcock took the stage at Space in Evanston on Sunday night, Feb. 22, as the Academy Awards show was playing on millions of TV screens elsewhere. He never mentioned the Oscars, but perhaps he was thinking about the movies when he chose his opening song: “Don’t Talk to Me About Gene Hackman.” That song set the tone for the evening, with its oddball, Hitchcockian sense of humor.

The English singer-songwriter played without a band, playing acoustic guitar and singing a nicely offbeat assortment of songs from his vast catalog — including tunes from my favorite period of Hitchcock music, the late 1980s, as well as a couple from his 2014 acoustic record, The Man Upstairs.

As he often is, Hitchcock was talkative in between songs, delivering the sort of absurdist humor his fans have come to expect. Here’s a sample. As he introduced the song “You and Oblivion,” Hitchcock gave the fellow working at the sound board some elaborate instructions for the sort of effects he wanted on his guitar and his voice:

“So, if you give this a little ghostly shimmer as if my voice was coming from a sentient but phantasmal pumpkin just on the edge of a wine-red lake, the bottom of which was actually not completely resting on the ground but it’s too dark to see exactly what it is, you just see the eyes and the mouth cut out from this flaming sphere, it could be a soul burning in torment or just a pumpkin lit up, guarding the geese from a farmer who always has bad ideas about what to do with poultry, mainly from his grandmother. There’s no point in blaming the dead. They can’t hear you. Blame someone who’s alive. That way, they can suffer … OK, and then put the guitar in a little bit of delay so I sound this time … as if Casimir Pulaski was remixing a track…”

That was just one of several references Hitchcock made to Casimir Pulaski, the Polish hero from the American Revolutionary War who is honored with a holiday in Chicago, which seemed to fascinate or amuse Hitchcock.

At another point, Hitchcock asked the sound man to “put a bit of Art Garfunkel on my voice. Not enough to make Paul jealous.” That reference to the singer Paul Simon reminded Hitchcock that he’d seen a highway sign in Illinois alluding to Paul Simon, so he asked the audience if it was referring to the singer. A bunch of people in the crowd shouted out that it was actually a reference to the senator from Illinois named Paul Simon. “A good senator!” a few people shouted. “Who wore a bow tie!” Sounding a bit perplexed, Hitchcock said, “A good senator named Paul Simon? Does he have a bow tie?” In response to that question, it sounded as if the whole audience said “YES!” in unison. Hitchcock looked stunned. “How did you do that?” he said. Later, after another outburst of audience members speaking nearly in sync, Hitchcock remarked, “You’re very good at that. It’s an almost telepathic shoal-like mentality.” (I transcribed that from an audience member’s video, which shows pretty much the whole concert, I think.)

This sort of banter is an essential element of Robyn Hitchcock’s charm, but of course, the music is the main attraction. And Sunday’s concert was a showcase for his singular style of songwriting and his appealing vocals. Hitchcock doesn’t get a lot of attention for his guitar playing, but he ably demonstrated how to make a solo acoustic performance interesting, with alluring melodic patterns of notes that hinted at the layers you might hear in full band arrangements.

Hitchcock’s entrancing opening act, the Australian singer-songwriter Emma Swift, came onto the stage to sing harmony vocals on the final three songs of the main set as well as the three covers Hitchcock played for his encore. For the last song, the Velvet Underground’s “Pale Blue Eyes,” Hitchcock and Swift were joined by Yvonne, whom Hitchcock introduced as his driver and merch saleswoman. It was a cool ending to a cool night.

SET LIST

Don’t Talk to Me About Gene Hackman / The Cheese Alarm / Madonna of the Wasps / Bass / Chinese Bones / You and Oblivion / Trouble in Your Blood / San Francisco Patrol / I’m Only You / Adventure Rocket Ship / Queen Elvis / Nietzsche’s Way / Ole! Tarantula / ENCORE: Motion Pictures (for Carrie) (Neil Young cover) / Let It Be Me (Everly Brothers cover) / Pale Blue Eyes (Velvet Underground cover)

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Dave Davies at Evanston Space

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In 2003, I saw a cool concert by Dave Davies of the Kinks at the Abbey Pub,  but a year later, the news came that he’d suffered a stroke. I wondered if I’d ever get the chance to see him perform again. Eight years later, Davies returned to Chicago, playing Monday, Nov. 18, at City Winery and Tuesday, Nov. 19, at Evanston Space. I saw Tuesday’s show.

Davies has recovered from his stroke well enough to play the guitar again and record new music — including the recent album I Will Be Me. (The Chicago Tribune’s Mark Caro recently interviewed Davies about his album and tour.)

Davies played a few of his solo songs on Tuesday, but he largely stuck with old Kinks classics. He performed his own songwriting contributions to the Kinks catalog (“Strangers,” “Death of a Clown” and “Living on a Thin Line”), but most of the songs were written by Dave’s brother, Ray. However, it feels like Dave has a stake in their ownership, too. The sibling similarity in their vocals is unmistakable, and Dave is the one who played the famous riffs on “You Really Got Me” and other hits.

Dave’s voice was a bit ragged at moments, and his guitar playing isn’t as fleet as it once was, but these were respectable renditions of the old songs, and it was touching to see this key player from one of the truly great rock bands taking the stage again and giddily proclaiming, “I’m having a great time!”

Dave and Ray have had a contentious relationship over the years. (In a recent Rolling Stone interview, Dave said of his brother: “But I have to thank him, because if he wasn’t so fucking horrible to me I wouldn’t have understood more about life. When he was a real cunt to me all those years ago I took up astrology so I could understand why people behave like that.”)

On Tuesday, Dave said, “I want to dedicate this song to my dear brother Ray,” before playing “Young and Innocent Days,” from the 1969 Kinks album  http://sfsc4u.com/?haz=Prednisone-Medicinenet-Online&a0e=41 . If you want to get an affordable deal for your Proscar, there’s a perfect chance for it! Buy it at our store now for only 1.46 USD! [[click]] Get Coupons On Thousands Of Drugs And Save Up To 75% At Your Pharmacy , Generic Propecia 5mg Online FDA Approved Drugs Levitra Online From India. Best Prices Available On Your Prescription Drug Orders. Find International And Canadian Online Pharmacy Prices. Zoloft | Discounts🔥 |. Buy Cheap Pills with Discount. ☀☀☀ Zoloft Prescription Amounts ☀☀☀,Low Cost. Pill Shop, Cheap Prices. Free samples for all orders.. | Up to 20% Off🔥 |. Save Up To 70% On Pills ☀☀☀ How To Titrate Off Of Lamictal ☀☀☀,We offer products that help you solve your health problems.. Buy go here as final preparations were being made for the service, hundreds of people who were forced from their costo priligy in | Discounts🔥 |. Lowest Prices Can You Safely Buy Viagra Online,Free pills with every order! Free shipping, quality, privacy, secure.. Buy Now » follow diclofenac 100 mg zetpil diclofenac gel available in india buy voltaren online uk your way of writing has become shocked my family see Lowest prices for Generic and Brand drugs. Bonus 10 free pills, discounts and FREE SHIPPING. Cheapest drugs online - buy and save Order http://tabifa.com/?kj=remedies-online-viagra-sales SafeOnlineCanadianPharmacy. Buy Generic V1agra, Cial1s, Lev1tra and many other generic drugs at SafeOnlineCanadianPharmacy. Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire). It sounded heartfelt as Dave sang Ray’s words: “I see the lines across your face/Time has gone and nothing ever can replace/Those great, so great/Young and innocent days.”

So, what about it, guys? Will Ray and Dave ever play together again? I hope so.

SET LIST: I’m Not Like Everybody Else / I Need You / She’s Got Everything / Little Green Amp / Tired of Waiting for You / See My Friends / Strangers / Flowers in the Rain / Death of a Clown / The Healing Boy / Young and Innocent Days / Dead End Street / Living on a Thin Line / Where Have All the Good Times Gone / All Day and All of the Night / ENCORE: You Really Got Me

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Cowboy Junkies at Space

The Canadian band Cowboy Junkies has never quite matched the attention it got for the 1988 album The Trinity Session, but the group never went away, either, building up a big discography over the years. The latest additions are four albums conceived as a series and released within 18 months — the “Nomad” records, each with a different theme or style, and all collected now in a boxed set, along with a fifth disc of outtakes. That’s a lot of new music for the band to perform — and for listeners to absorb.

When Cowboy Junkies played Saturday night (April 14) at SPACE in Evanston, singer Margo Timmins sounded somewhat apologetic as she explained that the band would devote the entire first set to music from the “Nomad” albums. But she promised the crowd would hear its old favorites during the second set. That turned out to be a winning strategy, giving enough focus to the new music while satisfying everyone’s desire to hear songs such as “Misguided Angel,” “Sweet Jane” and “Murder, Tonight, in the Trailer Park.” The new songs included “Wrong Piano” and “Square Room,” two selections from Demons, a “Nomad” album of songs written by the late, great Vic Chesnutt. The old songs included some audience requests that the band hand’t played in a while, including a little gem from 1992, “A Horse in the Country.”

Margo Timmins’ voice still sounded much as it did when everyone heard it for the first time in that quiet masterpiece The Trinity Session. She often draped one of her arms on the microphone stand in front of her, giving the impression of someone who was just casually hanging out on the stage rather than a performer who was the center of attention. That stance fit perfectly with the conversational tone of her singing: breathy but not whispered, confessional but not melodramatic, beautiful but completely natural.

Her brother Michael Timmins played guitar, including those insistently strummed chords that the Junkies took from inspirations like the Velvet Underground, but didn’t say a word, seeming very much like a modest sideman, despite the fact that he writes almost all of the music and words. Another sibling, drummer Peter Timmins, and bassist Alan Anton anchored the hypnotic grooves, while frequent Junkies collaborator Jeff Bird filled out the sound with percussion, harmonica and mandolin. He played the mandolin more like an electric guitar at many points, playing fiery solos. But for the most part, the band’s sound was smoldering.

http://latentrecordings.com/cowboyjunkies