Sophia (Robin + Will) – Apr. 13 ’01: Cooky’s, Frankfurt (D)
Friday the 13th (ooh scary) or: Good Friday. And if Robin & Will are playing, then it’s a very good Friday, indeed.
First a little background, having only flown into Frankfurt and never spent any time there I only had notions of skyscrapers, bankers, multinationals and the like. Plus, a guidebook I have described Cooky’s as a shabby disco so I was quite curious as to what Sophia would do in such a place. Well, play beautiful music of course. It’s funny, having seen them in Holland several times over the years, as well as Robin at the 2 Toshack Highway gigs last autumn, I couldn’t believe some of the reviews “Robin was tipsy”, “Robin was forgetting lyrics”, etc. My experiences were ones of pure intent concentration, no eye contact with the audience, not to mention any verbal communication whatsoever. Finally it was my turn to see him acting up! The night started out in panic mode, having gotten pulled in by a screening of “The Tin Drum” on German television, the credits rolled and I looked at my watch: 22:50?! NO! Run, grab a taxi, zip off to the club. And Frankfurt was eerie, completely deserted, haunting high rises casting dark shadows on the rain-soaked streets. Finally, Cooky’s. Rushing through the blinding white marble and chrome office building foyer, downstairs to the coat check as “So Slow” filled the smoky air. The place seemed very crowded, but that was more due to the layout, the stage itself quite small, an attentive group packed into the limited space. I caught my breath, then tried to relax and get into it. Also, it may sound strange, but I was really nervous, as this was the night I introduced my liebling to Sophia live, I felt this irrational anxiety, not just hoping he would like it, more this vulnerability, it isn’t always easy to share music that has made such an impact on your life or gotten you through such painful times. I’m guessing many of you know what I mean. Plus it doesn’t help matters when the person is a musician and walking encyclopaedia of music…But that’s all beside the point. Cooky’s must think it’s a London club, by the way: 1 Beck’s and 1 glass of white wine=16 marks?! And the same amount for 1 apple juice and a wine?! That’s outrageous. But that’s an aside as well. Let’s get on to the gig. I was happy to see Will on stage, having read about his father’s death I didn’t expect he would join the tour, at least not tonight. They segued into “Happy Now” and then “If Only”. The sound was spare, but warm. Robin was babbling about not being in tune, calling for Will to help him out. “Ship in the Sand” was introduced with a long-winded story about how it is to feel stuck in a situation, the hopelessness of routine and stagnation, but then it took on a comic feel with him pointing out, “And it’s ‘Ship!’ okay? It’s not ‘Shit in the Sand,’ okay?!” This launched the spoken word aspect of the gig, he was a complete chatterbox, and it was extremely amusing. “Bad Man’’ was followed by “Jealous Guy”, (the possibilities are endless). And yes, he exclaimed how he wished he could take credit for the latter number, and broke a string right at the end, stopped to fix the guitar, encouraged Will to entertain in the meantime, who started hamming it up with Queen intros, this led Robin to talk about seeing the Scorpions on MTV earlier “And you know, that’s really encouraging, see, because I’m starting to deal with the whole receding thing (patting his hair) and if that guy can sell out stadiums in Japan with his hairline, well, there’s hope for me yet!” Then he was harassing the people in “our VIP area” (the booths next to the stage) “seeing as how we don’t even have a VIP area, man they’re probably trying to steal our beer. Well, if we HAD any beer…” everyone was laughing, he’d stop and banter some more between all of the songs…it was informal and completely enjoyable, almost leaning toward a rehearsal feel. “Bastards” sounded excellent, as did “When Your Sad”, this was my first time hearing these songs with just guitar and piano, and they really took on a different character. Despite the constant clatter of dishes and clinking glassware at the bar to my left, I managed to focus. The audience, too, was very polite; you might not expect that in standing-only, cramped strange disco conditions. “The Sea” is so gorgeous, all the new songs that I heard on debut in Amsterdam during “De Nachten” had already been burned into my memory, and without the grandeur of the Paradiso or body of the strings, drums and bass it was a pared down, but infinitely beautiful, thing. “Is It Any Wonder” closed the set, yes it wasn’t a very long gig, but as Robin explained “I have to clear out, there’s a big disco night, you know. The deejay’s got 10CC and Prince raring to go!” but he came back, and time for another touching moment. He actually mentioned Jimmy’s passing, talked about the God Machine and older songs, and days gone by, and to break up the seriousness of it he asked, after saying Jimmy’s name, “Did I hear somebody just boo? Because if you did, you better watch out, because I will whoop yo’ ass!” Grinning fiendishly, he shook his head and said, “No, anyway, this next one, well, it’s about him. Called ‘Death of a Salesman.’” Nice.
Afterward, he announced that they would be out in a few minutes to sell CDs, “so stop by, get a CD, give us a beer, have a chat, whatever you want…” and that concluded what was a thoroughly “intimistic evening with Sophia” indeed.
*I left you
*So slow
*Are you happy now
*If only
*Ship in the sand
*Bad man
*Every day
*Jealous guy
*When you’re sad
*The sea
*Is it any wonder
*Death of a salesman
Leslie Hadlock