Published Jul 10, 2015After his well-received appearance at the 2013 Ottawa Folk Festival, Robyn Hitchcock returned to the Nation's Capital for an entirely different festival experience: playing inside the snug Barney Danson Theatre. Situated within the Canadian War Museum, located on Bluesfest's festival grounds, this concrete-laden, bunker-style theatre brought together a few dozen aging fans alongside handfuls of curious spectators to watch the British psych-folk legend give an intimate acoustic performance.
Opening the set with an even more biting version of Bob Dylan's "Not Dark Yet" (from his 2002 live album of Dylan covers, Robyn Sings), Hitchcock launched into a series of songs about death and dying, including "My Wife & My Dead Wife," "When I Was Dead" and a tribute to the late Arthur Kane, "N.Y. Doll." After some lengthy, often bizarre, but always charming between-song banter that found the pacified audience chuckling and yelling out retorts, the 62-year-old reached back to his early days, playing fan favourites like "Chinese Bones," "I'm Only You" and a playful version of the Soft Boys' "I Got the Hots."
Bringing tourmate Emma Swift onto the stage to sing backup, Hitchcock and the Australian alt-country chanteuse launched into gorgeous renditions of "Nietzsche's Way" and "I Used to Say I Love You" before closing the set with "Queen Elvis." As the small crowd rose from their cocktail tables to give him a standing ovation, it became apparent that Hitchcock has transcended his role as a beloved niche musician.