It had been a while since I’d seen Robyn Hitchcock, (I missed the last tour for logistical reasons) so I was looking forward to this “electrospective” as it has been referred to on social media.
A couple of pints of Trooper before the show meant I was less anxious and happy to wander down towards the front for most of the show, I was even dancing and singing along to the Soft Boys songs.
The set list was excellent – a good mixture of the past and tracks from the newest album. His LA Squires are a cracking band with a big sound. It sounded as full at the back (where I spent the encore) as it did a few feet from the front. Side note for those wondering, yes, that’s Mark Sheppard from Supernatural/Leverage/Firefly and a plethora of other TV shows doing a fine job on the drums)
Robyn himself was on top form, sounding brilliant. The gig delivered big time, after a stressful week it blew away all the cobwebs and simply bought the joy!
Day one of International Pop Overthrow Liverpool. I am starting slowly as I am working during the day and attending the event in the evening. Had this not been the case I would have stayed out for the second set by this band.
Erin Black has an amazing voice, the videos below do not do the band justice. It was late 60s psychedelic soul in sound, feel and style. I’ll be adding links to this entry when I have more time, call back and check them out! (Or look them up if you can’t wait!) I will be investigating them further!
I confess this review is being published later than I planned, partly due to real life getting in the way but mostly due to being distracted by wanting to just listen to the album for pure enjoyment rather than working out what to say about it. In fact the album has been an almost constant companion on my commute to and from work, cheering up the rainy journeys.
If you like 60s garage psych and theremins this is the album for you. Actually it will also make you realise that the flute is a vastly under-rated and under-used instrument on records these days, and there should jolly well be more of it.
It is quite hard to come up with “highlights” of this album as from the first note of the catchy opener “Make A New Day” with it’s simmering Indian music undercurrents through to the last note of “Alchemy C’mere” each of the tracks blend their individual traits into one gestalt of an album. That’s not something you get too often these days. It feels whole, like Pet Sounds or Forever Changes, not just a selection of tracks put in a pleasing order.
After the very first play I have found myself idly humming “Soft Rock Girlfriend” and “At Every Train Stop”, with other tracks also invading my brain along the way. By the second play, they all felt like old friends.
I am honestly trying not to sound too gushing about the album but it genuinely brightens my day and now the rain is getting less and the sunny days are coming through it will definitely be my summer soundtrack.
And in the meantime here’s a live version of one of the tracks – A theremin cover of Goldfinger filmed at the International Pop Overthrow event at the Cavern Club Liverpool in 2014. (It was filmed on my phone so the recording isn’t top quality.)
“Is it May yet?” has become a running joke on my Facebook timeline over the last few years. May brings International Pop Overthrow to Liverpool and if you are familiar with the blog then you know that it means lots of power pop bands arrive to entertain the heck out of us. By lots I means somewhere in the region of 130 bands, all getting two slots each over the eight days of the event.
2018 sees the 16th IPO Liverpool and I’ve been lucky enough to have attended them all. In fact when IPO head honcho David Bash was first persuaded to bring his event here by Jean Catharell, I was recruited as a Merch Girl, a position I held for a few years before becoming just a punter. Working the Merch table led to me becoming friends with several of the bands, not all of them come along any more but the friendships have lasted beyond the event itself due to social media. The comradery with all involved is very strong, in some cases we may only see each once a year but more often than not it’s like we’ve never been apart once the music starts. Whether it’s musicians, regular attendees I have become great friends with or those who are always in the audience and are but nodding acquaintances it’s all part and parcel of the IPO experience. And it is awesome.
So, advanced warning if you’ve never read this blog during May before. The posts will probably become random (as and when I have time and an internet connection) and potentially incoherent as the event wear on. If I can get data connections in the venues I’ve been known to post pictures and comments as the evening progresses. There may even be the odd photograph that involves me look the worse for wear in the venue but grinning like a happy loon as I am surrounded by my IPO family and they make me very happy.
I pre-ordered the Boxset version of this release in February. In the set you get both version of the album on CD (I think otherwise the Band mix version is only available on vinyl) and a specially designed Tshirt from Hauptstadrocker, a clothing firm favoured by Rick in the last decade or so. The main CD comes in a digipak sleeve with a lyric booklet and the band mix (a more basic version of the tracks) is in a simpler card sleeve. And all of it is housed in a small, sturdy box.
But the packaging is less important than the musical content.
Twinkletoes featuring Brian May on guitar is a rocking opener, in a modern Quo style setting the standard for what is to come. And that is a selection of tracks that although largely familiar in style sound fresh and modern as far as classic rock goes. My favourite tracks are definitely classic Quo in flavour – Lonesome Road, Everybody Knows how to Fly and Lock Myself Away stand out the most for me.
The more plaintive tracks, Over and Out and Without You certain show a softer side to Rick, the latter may have evoked a tear on first listen.
Much like Twinkletoes, both Fight for Every Heartbeat and Long Distance Love are distilled from the essence of the more modern Quo sound. (And the latter gets extra points for using the words “electronic letter” in the lyrics!) while When I Was Falling In Love wouldn’t have been out of place on a Traveling Wilburys album.
The closing track Halloween was originally written for a mid-eighties solo album that never made it to an official release. It does sound pretty eighties too but that’s not a complaint.
The band mixes have a slightly edgier, more raw sound and make me sadder that this stuff won’t get a live airing. Both versions of this album are a worthy tribute to Rick and his lasting legacy in the world of rock music.