Former Soft Boys icon, Robyn Hitchcock returns to Liverpool to play an intimate set at the Kazimier on Sunday, Getintothis’ Jamie Bowman looks forward to what promises to be a very special evening.
Like his namesake Alfred, Robyn Hitchcock‘s career has been one full of twists and turns with subject matter neatly summed up by the title of the BBC4 documentary which told his story: Sex, Food, Death and Insects.
Since emerging with his psychedelic power pop band The Soft Boys at the height of punk, Hitchcok’s music has constantly played fast and loose with the square peg / round hole dichotomy.
While those around him were dropping their ‘aitches and denouncing the 1960s, this son of Cambridge was happy to adopt the posh boy lost vocals of his hero Syd Barrett while adopting a music style that had little time for year zeros.
Witness the wonderful early single I Wanna Destroy You for a brilliant example of how snotty arrogance did have to come covered in phlegm – “And when I have destroyed you / I’ll come picking at your bone /And you won’t have a single atom left to call your own,” being one of our favourite lyrics of Hitchcock’s.
Following the Soft Boys, our paisley shirted hero embarked on a whimsical, if always fascinating path. Try the his wonderful acoustic album I Often Dream Of Trains for starters. Hitchcock’s lyrics reference gravestones, the ghosts of derelict trams and falling leaves, the subtext of beautiful death surfacing in almost every song including the surreal-absurdist Furry Green Atom Bowl, in which he depicts “roots in the earth and kidneys in the body”, wryly commenting that “That’s the way to stay“. It came as no surprise when Hitchcock was chosen by Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel to perform the album at the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in Minehead last year.
More recently there have been collaborations with REM‘s Peter Buck in his band the Venus 3 as well as recording s with long-time admirers Gillian Welch and David Rawlings.
A few years ago Getintothis saw him playing an enchanting set in a garden in Wales which seemed to consist entirely of songs about creepie crawlies. Just an hour later he was on the main stage covering tunes from Captain Beefheart and The Byrds. He also reduced us to tears when covering Nick Drake‘s Parasite at the Philharmonic Hall.
Whichever Hitchcok turns up on Sunday it will be entertaining.