On Sunday, Nov. 12, we headed up to the Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland to see Robyn Hitchcock and the Venus 3 perform. The Venus 3 is Scott McCaughey from the Seattle band The Young Fresh Fellows, Bill Rieflin from Ministry (and the current drummer for R.E.M.), and Peter Buck, founding member of R.E.M. I’m a big Robyn Hitchcock fan, but anyone who knows me well knows that I’m a REALLY big R.E.M. fan.
So…we arrived in Cleveland early and decided to do some record shopping at the Music Saves record store next to the Beachland. I had heard that bands playing at the Beachland sometimes do signings at the Music Saves, but the store was empty when we stepped inside, so it looked like it would just be your average everyday alternative music store experience. As I was browsing through the bins, I heard a customer come in, then felt Xan elbow me in the ribs. I looked at her and she nodded at the guy thumbing through the vinyl selection–holy socks!–it’s Peter Buck! We’d pretty much finished our shopping, but we stayed just a little longer. Not wanting to intrude on the guy’s personal time, we eventually slunk out, hoping the band would stay after the show to meet and greet fans. Starstruck? You bet! If there is a soundtrack to my adult life, Peter Buck esentially composed and performed it. I plan to write at length sometime soon about R.E.M. in a future post, by the way, but for now, let’s just leave it at that.
Anyway, we still had some time to kill, so we headed over to Coventry and shopped at Big Fun, a cool store full of every toy you ever owned as a kid–every Major Matt Mason, Strawberry Shortcake, G.I. Joe or Mego figure–and every conceivable novelty from floaty-pens to boxing nun hand puppets and retro 70’s iron-on T-Shirt designs. I usually spend most of my time in Big Fun annoying Xan by gasping and pointing at things and saying “I used to have one of those!” We made some completely frivolous purchases of Krazy Kat action figures and Pee-Wee’s Playhouse trading cards.
7PM rolled around and it was off to the show! We were there early enough to get a table, but we later decided that we would rather stand closer to the stage. So we grabbed our drinks, (the Beachland sells orange Crush in glass bottles, which excited Xan quite a bit as she had to work the next morning and had not wanted alchohol) headed up to the stage and ran into Dave Aikins and Andy Bennett, fellow comic pros. We talked to them until the show started. The show, despite Robyn Hitchcock’s thrown out back, was amazing! In a nearly two hour set, the band played oldies stretching back to Robyn Hitchcock’s Soft Boys days (which had Soft Boys fan Scott McCaughey grinning from ear to ear) and ran through some really good new songs before ending with some covers of songs by Syd Barrett, Bob Dylan and the Beatles. Since we were in the front row, I couldn’t resist snapping a few flashless photos as unobtrusively as I could during the performance.
In the lobby of the Beachland afterwards, the band did indeed meet and greet the fans and we were able to have them sign some LP’s we brought with us as well as a poster for the concert that a Beachland employee was kind enough to let us have. Xan asked the surprisingly approachable Peter Buck about his earlier record store purchases and talked him into posing with us for a photo.
1) Show Poster w/band signatures
2) Robyn Hitchcock
3) Peter Buck w/his beautiful Rickenbacker guitar
4) Scott McCaughey w/Peter Buck’s beautiful Rickenbacker guitar
5) Peter Buck w/two tongue-tied fans