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Hitchcock presents 

Man out of time Robyn Hitchcock brings shimmering pop to the Halifax Urban Folk Fest

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To borrow a phrase from another iconoclastic English singer-songwriter---in this case, Elvis Costello---Robyn Hitchcock is a man out of time.

Coming from the same countryside that begat the simultaneously surrealistic and quaintly semi-rural stylings of Syd Barrett, author Douglas Adams and the Monty Python's Flying Circus troupe, Hitchcock poked his head into the burgeoning punk consciousness in 1977 with the decidedly psychedelic Soft Boys.

Where the musical order of the day was short, sharp bursts of inchoate frustration, the paisley-shirted, long-haired Soft Boys were penning five- and six-minute epics like "Where Are The Prawns?," "I Want To Be An Angelpoise Lamp" and "Leppo And The Jooves."

By 1981 Hitchcock had gone solo and subsequently delivered a dozen LPs, both unaccompanied and with The Egyptians, that highlighted both his cerebral sense of humour and a wistful longing for an England he may have been born slightly too late to fully appreciate.

And as MTV's Alternative Nation began defining pop music's sensibilities, Hitchcock scored a couple of minor hits with "Balloon Man" and "Madonna of The Wasps." These hit the airwaves, though, just as grunge broke and audiences were clamouring for something bigger and brasher.

Hitchcock seems content with the career he's carved out. Gone are the major labels without a clue how to market music aimed at introspection as opposed to raw energy, his most recent releases, 2010's Propellor Time and this year's Love From London, are perhaps the most fully-formed of his extensive discography.

Hitchcock still performs with a wide-eyed joy uncommon for artists in their 60s and never appears to be merely going through the motions. Probably just as well for someone who once said, "I don't know how to fix a faucet or change the wheel on a car. I'm pitifully equipped to deal with reality in a lot of ways and that can be dangerous." --Russell Gragg


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