Young People Scream
Robyn Hitchcock & The Venus 3
Exit/In, Nashville, TN
Monday, April 6, 2009
Robyn Hitchcock is no stranger to Nashville. In 2004 he recorded an album here with Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, and lately he has made the Belcourt a regular stop when his tours swing through the Southeast. But all of his shows in town over the past twenty years have been mostly acoustic affairs. So when he took the stage at the Exit/In on Monday night with three-fifths of R.E.M. moonlighting at the Venus 3 backing him up, it was something Music City hadn't experiences in quite some time... electric Hitchcock. He even mentioned during the set that it was nice to be playing Nashville in a rock and roll setting again.
So how did Robyn and company kick off their set? With a version of "I Often Dream Of Trains" that was about as acoustic-y as you can get while still playing electric guitars. It was hard to complain about the low key start though, because while the rest of the show might not have been as raucous as The Egyptians sets were in the mid-80s, it was definitely a rock show. The setlist covered the gamut of Hitchcock's career, from the Soft Boys classic "Kingdom Of Love" all the way through his most recent album Goognight Oslo. Peter Buck stuck mostly to playing 12 string throughout the show, only occasionally breaking out a 6 string Rickenbacker to keep things from getting too Byrds-y (any R.E.M. fans who miss his chimey guitar parts from the 80s would be wise to get out to one of these shows). With runs through "Airscape," "Vibrating," "Flesh Number One (Beatle Dennis)," and an absolutely stellar version of "Madonna Of The Wasps," it was definitely a set for the fanboys (and girls) to get excited about.
After starting the encore with a solo, truly acoustic version of "The Wreck of the Arthur Lee," the band came back out for what Hitchcock described as an "celebrity cameo packed extended encore." The celebrity bit didn't come until the last song though. As R.E.M. bassist Mike Mills took the stage to play guitar, the rest of the band played musical chairs. With Buck on drums, bassist Scott McCaughey on guitar and drummer Bill Rieflin on bass, the band launched into loose but spirited version of "Listening To The Higsons." It might not have been, as Mike Mills described it, "the best show we'll see in Tennessee all year," but it was definitely one hell of a fun night.
photo by Tanya Wright, courtesy of Nashville Cream. Check out their review of the show here.