I come to this concert with few expectations beyond a good night out because of the two, infamously combustible, Robinson brothers Rich has always seemed the more reticent, undemonstrative of the two – the least likely to tell you what was on his mind, the least likely to share any emotions. So given the recent events that have befallen him and the imminent cathartic sounding solo record “Through a Crooked Sun” this gig had the potential to fill in a few gaps, maybe even change my perception of the man.
When Robinson takes to the small stage, bearded and doe eyed, at the Islington Academy around 9 o’clock the organ swells and he teases out mid-seventies Clapton guitar lines with the minimum of pomp and ceremony. The ensuing set is one where it would be more appropriate to be stood on a sawdust covered floor in a one horse town. He sings the tale of a sad man who doesn’t know how he became old and throws in the odd crowd pleasing cover song beginning with the Fleetwood Mac number Station Man, taking in Pink Floyd’s Fearless and encoring with Neil Young’s Cinnamon Girl. In between, the gig is one of country-rock and guitar heavy muso instrumentation.
Rich’s performance is predictably low-key; his body barely moving as he switches between his multitude of guitars and his band are flawlessly professional. The atmosphere is good, one of brotherly love and undemanding good times -it’s not often that I spot two bald men cavorting together in such a tender way. Bless ‘em. Robinson and his band serve up blues, boogie and rock n’ roll and over time he opens up: taking to the mic between songs thanking the crowd for their support and having some banter with the well-oiled throng and his band. It’s all so easy going that it feels like I’ve stumbled into a local pub where the regulars have organised a night of music from their youth and everyone’s singing along.
The gig finishes after the electric run through Cinnamon Girl and an odd, out of the blue prog-tastic electronic wig out. A quick and unreliable survey of fellow punters (hello Lisa!) suggests it was a good gig. Tonight, all (well some) critical thought was easily shoved aside and my brain eased into a state of pure bonhomie. For a man seemingly with the weight of the world on his shoulders Rich Robinson made light work of this show losing himself in the comfortable embrace of rock history and demonstrating his viability as a solo artist away from the circus that surrounds the Black Crowes. Tonight has been a thoroughly enjoyable if not necessarily revelatory concert.