Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I (don't) Wanna Go Backwards

Last night we saw Robyn Hitchcock performing his 1984 album I Often Dream of Trains, and it was a great show. I’m not nostalgic, but I do like the idea of albums becoming set lists as a way of reasserting the necessary relationship between songs, even if, and perhaps especially, the songs are performed out of order. If we operate from the assumption that all albums are concept albums, the whole album concert shouldn’t just be about returning to the past.

Hitchcock is still does his trippy patter between songs, having never made the Peter Gabriel transition. Gabriel used to tell weird stories between songs when he was in Genesis, while the band tuned their instruments, but when he went solo he abandoned fantasies for secular parables. I’m not complaining about that. Gabriel’s sermonizing directly influenced the Sun City and Band Aid projects which led to heartfelt embarrassments like Live Aid and We are the World and on and on. However one feels about the nebulous agenda of Live 8, early on in the cycle it did feel like activist concerts provided concrete responses to concrete problems. I mean, Sting cured Apartheid, right? Oh where have I gone with this . . . Robyn Hitchcock never changed the story he tells, and I suppose his political/social influence is nonexistent, but as I listened again to his excellent love songs about transportation and infrastructure I couldn’t help but think how brilliant he would be on the Fairfax City Council.

Hitchcock did not play “Furry Green Atom Bowl.” I think all of the encores were Queen Elvis era and later. I woke up this morning pissed at the Beatles for being such greedy bastards.

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