Speakers’ Corner Stage, WOMADelaide, Sat Mar 7
A crowd gently gathers around the Speakers’ Corner stage. It’s early in the WOMADelaide day, and many are still recovering from their Friday night exertions. To warm applause, Emma Swift & Robyn Hitchcock are introduced. One is rather clumsily described as a “British old folk legend” while the other is a “young Aussie songbird”.
The hour-long concert features a dozen songs; some written by Hitchcock, some by Swift, and some by others. The set begins with three Robyn Hitchcock numbers: Nietzsche’s Way, Trams Of Old London and Adventure Rocket Ship, the latter requiring some “rock and roll delay” on the vocals. Hitchcock plays guitar and sings in his marvellously characteristic way, while Swift adds delightful harmonies.
Hitchcock talks about dead Pisceans, The Rolling Stones, “Dismal Britain” (one of his favourite topics) and anything else that emanates from his singular consciousness. A few bats fly overhead.
Swift picks up her guitar and this slightly curious pairing presents Let It Be Me, Love Hurts and The Price Of Love, a trio of songs originally made popular by The Everly Brothers. The vaguely country-sounding Follow Your Money comes next – the yet-to-be-released Swift/Hitchcock Record Store Day single.
Swift shows her songwriting and lead vocal talents on Bittersweet and Woodland Street before the duo leaves the Americana/country sensibility behind. Hitchcock’s Queen Elvis allows for some quirky harmonica and some more sublime harmonies from Swift. And a quip about Morrissey. The set concludes with two covers by a couple more of Hitchcock’s dead Pisceans: Townes Van Zandt and Lou Reed. Pancho And Lefty is beautifully meandering, while Pale Blue Eyes is heavenly.
These two came together creatively after realising they shared a love of sad songs, working on their own arrangements of others’, and each others, music. This has been a fabulous show. This is sadcore.
Image courtesy of David Robinson