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The Hotel Café, Hollywood, USA 31 January 2006

Only one word can describe the performance by the former front man of Catherine Wheel at the cozy venue The Hotel Café for 200 or so people tonight in Hollywood. Brilliant.

The all-acoustic solo set contained many of the remarkable tracks that put Catherine Wheel on the forefront of the British music scene in the nineties. As I stood 2 feet from the small stage with red curtains in the back round, I was overcome with excitement as Rob took stage and took notice of my Eat My Dust You Insensitive Fuck T-Shirt, purchased 12 years ago during a incredible night in NYC watching the Happy Days tour. 'That's a great T-shirt. I'll play that for you tonight. I responded that I had been waiting for this night for the past six years.

After ten minutes of sound checks Rob sat down on a wooden stool and after an engaging hello starting playing what could be argued Catherine Wheels greatest song of all time 'This is Heal'.

You don't have to be a CW fan to appreciate a live acoustic version of Heal. Sitting stunned by the awesome sound coming from two large speakers adjacent to the stage I had to pinch myself as if I were dreaming.

Rob was incredibly engaging with the mellow crowd. Describing how he moved to NY to embark upon a journey of creating this new album 'Fresh Wine for the Horses, he left no doubt of the influence CW had in writing this new album.

The next song in the set was 'originally a CW song. And I'm glad it never made it on our albums so I could use it for myself. Rob then went on to play Oceans, which is track 2 on the new album. He followed with a brilliant version of My Name is Love.

Because of the restaurant like venue, much of the crowd just stood listening, almost afraid to make a peep so as not to disrupt his performance. I could not help giving a primordial scream as he broke into a classic version of Ma Solitude, improvising as if to treat his fans to a version that we have never heard.

It's his uniqueness that makes his live performances incredible to watch. He then went on to talk about how his parents came to visit him in NY on September 10th, 2001 and how he was 'trying to find myself in the coming months. It was during that time that he wrote the next song on the set, Bad Beauty.

Rob debated not playing it, vacillating out loud, but with much encouragement from the crowd again put on a great effort.

The show took on a new life as Rob described the next song as one that was written 'a long time ago. To his word, and to the shock of this CW fan, Rob kicked in with a version of Eat My Dust You Insensitive Fuck that made my jaw drop and hit the floor.

What a treat for the true CW fans in the crowd. Rob then went on to say how 'I moved to LA to finish this album and moved into a Russian actors apartment on Sunset Blvd while he was out acting in Russia, a comment which drew laughter from the crowd. Rob went on to describe how he sat in his apartment and thought how 'important it is to surround your self with intelligent people which, I have done for the past 20 years. Obviously you are all intelligent people for being in this room so this song is for you. Again, the acoustic version of Intelligent People was nothing short of brilliant.

If the show had ended here, there would not have been one person in the crowd who could have been disappointed. I could not help but think that this was the most incredible live set of songs ever put together.

Just as I snapped off a few photos, Rob broke into the most energizing version of Crank a CW fan could ever hope for. WOW!

Rob continued to play tracks of his new album, each one with its own uniqueness. It might as well have been CW on stage as he played Bathe Away, Handsome, The Storm and Towering and Flowering. Then, not to disappoint, he went on to say 'This next song is responsible for CW making it to America. It took me 4 minutes to write and turned out to be 7 minutes long. This is Black Metallic. There are no words that described the energy that he put into the performance of arguably the greatest rock song ever written. He made an acoustic guitar sound like the most badass electric guitar you could ever imagine.

This was intended to be the last song of his glorious performance, but thanks to yours truly who led the crowd in a long standing ovation 'One more, one more! Rob decided to sit down and describe his next song as 'one that I wrote for a girl. Yes, he again stunned the crowd with an amazing version of Future Boy. That concluded a set which was absolutely remarkable.

For those CW fans who have longed for the music they have grown to love the Rob Dickinson solo tour is a must-see 5-star performance. I can't wait for February 6 when he plays in San Diego.

Set List

My Name is Love
Ma Solitude
Bad Beauty
Eat My Dust You Insensitive Fuck
Intelligent People
The Storm
Bathe Away
Towering and Flowering
Black Metallic
Future Boy

Review by Sean Breen

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