Friday, July 4, 2014

Robyn Hitchcock 26: I Often Dream Of Trains In New York

As even punk nears middle age, it’s become common for established musicians to celebrate the anniversary of one of their acclaimed albums by performing it live, in its entirety. These self-tributes are usually reserved for albums that either weren’t appreciated on original release or too complicated to perform at the time; see recent reboots by Lou Reed and Van Morrison for prime examples.
Robyn Hitchcock had just re-re-released his acoustic favorite I Often Dream Of Trains the year before doing a brief tour playing what he called “the director’s cut” of the album. The final night was filmed and recorded, eventually released as I Often Dream Of Trains In New York.
A “cassette fragment” of “Sometimes I Wish I Was A Pretty Girl” plays over the PA before slowing to a halt, whereupon our hero comes out to play “Nocturne”. From there, he and two cohorts (helping out on guitars, keys and horns) play most of the album the audience knows and loves, based on their polite but fervent applause after each song ends. Besides rejigging the order, a few changes are made: “Flavour Of Light” (as opposed to “Night”) may be a misprint, but the “tongue of fire hissing through the dark and tropical night” in “This Could Be The Day” are now “thrown by Nubian Dave”, and not slaves—perhaps in reverence of the new president, whom he’s very pleased was elected. “Mellow Together”, “Furry Green Atom Bowl” and “Bones In The Ground” are all excluded, but “Uncorrected Personality Traits” is an a cappella joy. “That’s Fantastic Mother Church” is stuck in the middle, and doesn’t pick up the pace despite its rhythm.
A few encores are included to fill out an otherwise short program: “America” (swapped on the DVD for “I’m Falling” from the recent Venus 3 album), “Up To Our Nex” (from the same album) and a rearranged “Goodnight I Say”. In all, a nice curio. Now if he’d only do a similar tour for Eye

Robyn Hitchcock I Often Dream Of Trains In New York (2009)—3

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