Robyn Hitchcock sets sail in Feb 2012 with his Floating Palace, featuring KT Tunstall, Eliza Carthy and more

Posted: 3rd November 2011
Robyn Hitchcock

The expression "English eccentric" and "national Treasure" go hand-in-hand with certain performers, none more so than ex-Soft Boys front-man and lyrical surrealist, Robyn Hitchcock. During his tenure as one of Britain's most expressive, explorative and erudite gentlemen, Hitchcock has served up platefuls of critically-acclaimed albums, mostly dealing with the vagaries of everyday life with extraordinary articulation. Song-titles such as "Brenda's Iron Sledge", "Grooving on an Inner Plane", "Birds in Perspex" and "Sickie Boy" aren't going to be covered by X-Factor contestants, anytime soon. I'd bet my house on it, if I had a house to bet with.

His latest ruse is a touring show that actually sports a simple remit - mutual love and respect. With a banner entitled, "The Floating Palace" , you'd be forgiven for thinking this might mean carnal activity - it's more musical than that. KT Tunstall, Martin and Eliza Carthy, alt-country artist Howe Gelb (Giant Sand) and singer-cum-banjo strummer supreme, Abigail Washington, will all be playing with each other, to coin a phrase. Rather than play strict slots, all the performers, including Hitchcock, will rotate song-duties on stage with each other, playing old and new tunes by themselves or by other artists - it's an intriguing concept.

The tour has so far been confirmed for Glasgow (5th Feb - as part of the city's Celtic Connections), Gateshead (6th) and London's Barbican (8th). Ticket prices range from £15 upwards and are available now, except Gateshead which goes on sale Friday 4th November.

In addition, Robyn is part of the Rumble in the Jungle line-up due to play Notting Hill's Tabernacle on 22nd November (again with KT Tunstall, plus Al Murray and Vanessa Carlton - £27.50, proceeds to the Gurukula Botanical Sanctuary) and he is also solo (plus small classical ensemble) at the St Leonard's Church in Shoreditch for a full rendition of the aforementioned "Eye" album - tickets are up now for £15.

Paul Pledger