Robyn Hitchcock's songs blend absurdity with an enduring emotional openness. Info/tix
Songwriter Robyn Hitchcock has been rattling staid sensibilities since his days fronting the Soft Boys, in a murky time when 1970s punk rock origamied itself into new wave. This gives him a lot of creative territory to cover when he takes a stage. As the man himself recently noted, he's charged with "distilling 40 years into 90 minutes." Happily, he's drawing from a rich, rollicking songbook that was further bolstered by last year's self-titled album, his strongest full-length effort in many years. A relatively modest level of popularity means he has no obligation to trudge through obligatory performances of bygone hits, leading to especially freewheeling sets. He can follow his psychotropic fancy wherever it leads.
Hitchcock's songs combine a lovely emotional openness with twisty, macabre imagery. One of his lyrical phrases, "Like a chandelier festooned with leeches," is a finer description of his aesthetic than anything I could ever conjure up. Even a seemingly straightforward track such as "I Want To Tell You About What I Want," from Hitchock's self-titled 2017 album, includes a delightfully inscrutable reference to "our cannibal overlords" and longing for a "non-invasive kind of telepathy." The delicacy of his compositions is only enhanced by the recent touring model that often sets him on the proscenium with only his guitar as a companion. The chief appeal of the tousled troubadour in concert, however, could be the stage patter, which finds Hitchcock seemingly free-associating through logic-defying fictions and ruminations of curlicue invention. (Hitchcock also deployed his spoken-word skills to great effect on Madison-based electronic artist David Last's "Mister Seaweed Part 1," a track from the album Constructions Vol. 1.) For devotees of the genially absurd, Hitchcock is truly one of the rare artists who can promise a show without a dull moment. —Dan Seeger