Robyn Hitchcock @ Evanston SPACE, 10/14/12


Had a chance to see Robyn Hitchcock perform last night at S.P.A.C.E. in Evanston. It’s a great venue in general – small, intimate, nice acoustics. It made last night’s audience comfortable enough that someone called out “How you doing, Robyn?” as he walked through the room to get to the stage. (He didn’t answer, just held up a “wait a second” finger, sorted out his mugs of soy milk and coffee, put on his harmonica holder and started the first song.)

The intimacy of the venue is well-suited to Hitchcock’s style. As he plays and sings, he looks around the room, staring intently at various people. (That’s how it seems anyway. He’s undoubtedly concentrating on the music and can barely see whoever is in his line of sight.) He stops one song in the middle to adjust his guitar tuning. His between-song banter is conversational, albeit not interactive.

Speaking of that banter… Like many of Hitchcock’s lyrics, it’s not so much stream as whitewater rapids of consciousness. He free-associates his way around the music, conducting both sides of several conversations between Holmes and Watson and talking about Devonshireshireshire and the history of airplane toilets. It’s impossible to remember most of it, but a couple of lines stuck with me (albeit possibly paraphrased):

“Under socialism all guitar strings are in tune with one another; under capitalism, each guitar string is in tune only with itself.”

“This baby is about how songs are made.”

After a really great set, Hitchcock went off for a few minutes and came back for a four-song encore. As he said “These are some songs from my record collection.” All covers, all clearly influential on his own music. (You can almost draw a straight line from All Tomorrow’s Parties to half the Hitchcock repertoire.)

Hitchcock has played at S.P.A.C.E. previously, and I will be keeping my eyes open for another show there. I wish you all could have been there.



Only The Stones Remain
I Got The Hots For You
The Wreck of the Arthur Lee
The Museum of Sex
Dismal City
No, I Don’t Remember Guilford
English Girl
Flavour of Night
I Don’t Know Anything About You Any More
Uncorrected Personality Traits
Queen of Eyes
Sometimes a Blonde
I Often Dream Of Trains
Victorian Squid
Up To Our Nex
I’m Falling
Olé! Tarantula

Encore (covers):
Terrapin – Syd Barrett
All Tomorrow’s Parties – Velvet Underground
Simple Twist of Fate – Bob Dylan
Soul Love – Bowie


Zoe Keating, Evanston S.P.A.C.E., 5/17/11

A friend of mine had an extra ticket to see Zoe Keating play at S.P.A.C.E. in Evanston last night. At first I dithered about whether to go or not; I wasn’t familiar with her music, and I just wasn’t sure if I would enjoy it. I’m glad I decided to take him up on the offer, though, because it was a beautiful experience.

Zoe Keating, if you don’t know (as I didn’t), is a cellist. Her music consists of loops and layers as she multitracks herself with a foot-controlled laptop computer. She might lay down a percussion track by plucking or by bouncing her bow on the strings, then play a bassline over that, and finally layer on melodies. Her pieces are evocative and can be stirring or moving or calming or any or all of the above.


We had a table in the front row. I took this photo from my seat. On the left you can see the foot controller she uses, while the laptop is on the right. It was fascinating to watch her play and to try to figure out how the different pedals on the controller were changing the music.


Front. Row.

Anyway, the show was about 90 minutes, during which she played maybe 10-12 pieces, including a cover of Muse’s Time Is Running Out, which she said she learned because she was hearing it everywhere and decided she needed to exorcise it by making it her own. (And she did it exceptionally well.)

S.P.A.C.E. (which stands for Society for the Preservation of Art & Culture in Evanston) is a terrific venue for this kind of show, too. It’s small enough to feel intimate (did you see how close I was to the artist?) without feeling cramped or jammed, even with a sold-out show like last night’s. Most of the seating was at small reserved tables facing the front of the stage, with a few rows of seats on either side, and some seating at the (well-stocked) bar, and SRO space at the back of the room. I’d say nobody was more than about 30 feet from the stage.

In sum, a good time was had by all. Zoe Keating: highly recommended.