at home with sophia (NBI Club, 16/05/10)

by juicyfrog

on a dull day, as you’re surfing on the net, someone makes you an offer you can’t refuse…

Robin Proper-Sheppard offers you to be at home with Sophia… how could you expect your heart to remain quiet once the excitation arouse without control? especially when you’re a fan of Mr. Proper-Sheppard, a well-tempered guy and ex-member of the God Machine.

and probably one of the frog’s favourite songwriter.

for Robin’s lyrics aren’t just words thrown in the air that move you to tears.his interpretation either on your stereo or live is just amazing. such a fucking emotional moment.

your frog fell in love with Robin’s lyrics in 1997, while listening to Fixed Water for the very time. a poignant and affecting album comprising eight wonders full of melancholy, bitterness, sadness and grace, among which is it any wonder, I can’t believe the things I can’t believe, so slow

a year later came The infinite Circle and the splendid, magnificent directionless, bastards, the river song, if only

how can i put it? Sophia moves me, touches me like no other band. when i hear Robin’s singing about his new relationship failure, about his life disbelief, about the dead of a friend, i just feel like he’s been part of my life for years. through his albums and concerts, i follow his life, his very personal life, his inner side, for he keeps repeating in interviews and concerts that, true, his texts are only about what happens around him, about his fucking life.

another reason why i like Robin Proper-Sheppard’s humour and cynicism is simply because he’s the only guy i know who has a “fuck” feature included! i’ve never tried to count them, but this lovely word may be one of his favourite when he’s angry. or not angry. and Robin is not only a very talented songwriter but also an excellent guitarist and a fucking amazing entertainer…

for god’s sake, Robin Proper-Sheppard is offering ME to be at home with Sophia. i can already feel some gooseflesh erecting on my batrachian’s skin…

for this special event, i asked both the storyteller toad and the wild-boar toad to join me. we arrived pretty late, all three of us, at the NBI Club, a new concert venue in the Kulturbraurei. i’m a bit tense for i don’t know the place and don’t fucking know either how many people are supposed to be already here. i want to be close to Robin, don’t want to see him from a shithole.

and to my very surprise and disappointment, the NBI Club is a very small concert hall dedicated to around 150 people… and most of the chairs are already busy or booked. fuck it!

i try to keep calm, stay in good mood, and just make my mind, saying that we aren’t that far, after all… i’m fucking nervous, for god’s sake.

nevertheless, all of a sudden, the frog enters the twilight zone and sees some other frog in front of the stage, first row, who is waving in their direction. it takes me a little while to realise that this frog is actually waving at the storyteller toad. who waves in return and leaves us to have a chat with this mysterious frog. a few minutes later, the storyteller toad is calling at us, encouraging us to come closer to the front of the stage. what a masochist moment… being so close of the stage, gazing lovingly at the few scattered places which are still free at the first and second rows! how cruel!

suddenly, my eyes meet some other frog’s eyes. the frog looks at me with a great surprise and says: “aber hallo, wie geht es dir?!” the juicy frog is a bit stunned, fuck, how’s this?! my brain establishes a quick connection to the real world, mayday, beware you’re now leaving the twilight zone. eventually, i hear my own voice says: “unglaublich, du bist!”. you’ll notice in passing that i didn’t really answer the question, but never mind, who cares?!

i know this frog, who knows the storyteller toad’s frog. the wild-boar toad seems amused and doesn’t understand a word of it. who’s who? but nobody actually care for the three seats left have been reserved for… us! damned, i knew it, we, frogs, do have a god!

i now sit directly on the first row. i’m still stunned. unable to speak or say anything. just feeling merry, already happy… after a short chat with the frog i know (who’s actually the mother of my storyteller toad’s frog), i decide to organise a possible setlist in my head. but my brain’s too impatient. i observe the stage: the set decoration is similar to the There are no Goodbyes‘ design.

at the back stands a panel covered with a flower wallpaper, in beige and rosa shades. on the left, a tape recorder (an old one type, like the ones we used to have at school, when we were still tadpoles) which is playing some music. and on the very front of the stage, a wonderful condenser microphone (neumann’s style) equipped with a pop filter.

Robin, when are you arriving? i’m not the only one to be dying to see him. after a long while, impatience is clearly growing within the audience. long minutes passed by until we see two elegant shoes and a folk guitar leap on the stage. Sophia is on the stage. we’re at home with Robin Proper-Sheppard.

i can feel the hairs erecting on my skin and filling me with joy and happiness as he just says “hi”.

it doesn’t take him long to thank us for not having sent any song requests via email dedicated to the evening setlist. i questioned my wild-boar toad with a disbelieving glance, fuck, i didn’t know about that. i immediately concentrate and decide that i’d have asked him to play Lost and Something. but it’s fucking too late, stupid me…

never mind, the setlist he composed for us is just perfect…

i won’t detail you this incredible and magnificent evening. Robin Proper-Sheppard’s performance is perfect, as usual: amazing and moving voice, perfect guitar and melodies, excellent and hilarious jokes, a few bunches of “fuck”, “fucking”, “what a fuck”, irony and self-critic. tonight, Robin is bitter to tell us that his story with Astrid is over… they apparently had a kind of argument, and as he left, he only felt half sad, for he was sure she would text him to apologise or ask him to come back. but she didn’t.

but even in such a moment, Robin Proper-Sheppard’s black humour is able to make you laugh about it. he’s simply the best guy who put words on your own feelings in the most desperate moments.

i wish i could explain him that girls aren’t that complicated. but would he believe a frog?

Francesca Fiorini, for pictures of Sophia in concert ; ©Sophia’s website for at home with Sophia‘s panel and Sophia’s Myspace for Robin Proper-Sheppard’s portrait]