Rob Dickinson - San Diego, CA - Casbah

By jason

The first show of the year has come and gone, and who better to start the year than Rob Dickinson, formerly of Catherine Wheel? Earlier in the afternoon, Rob was on 91X radio here in San Diego talking about what he's been doing since November of 2000 when Catherine Wheel played their last gig supporting the Smashing Pumpkins. Since that time he moved back to New York and settled back into real life away from music.

In 2003, he moved to Los Angeles and began designing cars as a freelance Porsche specialist, similar to what he did back home in Norfolk at the Lotus factory. He also began the leisurely process of recording his solo album, Fresh Wine for the Horses, with David Rolfe producing. The album was finally released in September of 2005, and the month before, I saw Rob play an incredible show with Adam Franklin of Swervedriver and Mark Gardener of Ride for M-Theory Records' 2nd Annual Sonic Summer Bash. Prior to that, I hadn't seen Rob or Catherine Wheel since they played in San Diego at Cane's in mid-2000. His voice has been missed.

After the interview, DJ Hillary said the show would start early at 9pm. I had known that Rob was opening the show, with Brandi Carlile and Tom Brousseau headlining, and it just didn't make sense. Brandi who? Tom what? Either way, the opener at the Casbah never goes on earlier than 9:30pm, unless there's more than 3 acts.

As soon as I roll up at 9:05pm, I hear the end of "Heal." I was praying it was a soundcheck, but then I heard the crowd cheering. Who goes on at 9pm? It all makes sense now.. he's playing a full set, so they had him go on early.

As I made my way up near the front, he started a song that began life as an unreleased Catherine Wheel b-side from the Wishville sessions called "Photograph." It was re-worked and re-titled "The Storm," and sounded excellent acoustically, even without the pounding bass and drums from his former bandmates.

I can never remember the setlist order, but I can always remember what was played. From the new album, he played the single "My Name is Love," the beautiful "Oceans," a rocking "Handsome," and the album's closer and another unreleased Catherine Wheel b-side-turned-LP track, "Towering and Flowering." I was expecting to hear "The Night," one of my favorites on the album and mostly acoustic. Sadly, it didn't make the set.

For the die-hard Catherine Wheel fans, besides the opener "Heal," he brought out another gem from the Happy Days album, the brilliantly titled "Eat My Dust You Insensitive Fuck." Rob said he hasn't played that track with a full band, but they did on the Happy Days tour. And for fans of their masterpiece Adam & Eve, Rob brought out the harmonica for "Future Boy." In fact he had a harmonica for a few songs throughout the night.

Closing the set was the epic "Black Metallic," from their debut "Ferment." During the solo, he was mashing on the guitar and I thought a vein in his head was gonna blow.

San Diego fans were not content to see Rob leave the stage without an encore, so we cheered like fucking madmen for another song. He kept looking over to the side of the stage for the "1-more" finger from the Casbah crew as the clapping and yelling was increasing.. and he finally got it.

For the encore, he played a tender "Ma Solituda," from Adam & Eve. I haven't seen an opening act get an encore in forever, but I'm glad we got one. Short and sweet, and so nice to hear him sing again.

Setlist (in somewhat proper order):
The Storm
My Name is Love
Eat My Dust You Insensitive Fuck
Towering and Flowering
Future Boy
Black Metallic
Ma Solituda

More photos are available at: Lament.