This winter as we prepared Daniels Hall to host live music once again our staffers came across a nondescript sheet of paper, which nonetheless contained some cryptic words like “F. SERPENT,” and “R.T. COAST,” “GLASS HOTEL,” and “TRAMS.” A quick Google search confirmed our suspicions, the sheet of paper is part of a Robyn Hitchcock setlist.
Robyn has played Swallow Hill several times in recent years, but his concert on March 13, 2020 was the last time we hosted a live audience in Daniels Hall before we closed our doors due to COVID-19-related restrictions. We reached out to Robyn via email, and he very graciously shared his memories of that night with us in a message he titled “Everything ends in Denver” Swallow Hill March 13 2020.”
Robyn wrote back:
This was the last gig of my last tour to date. The COVID pandemic had been looming for a while but the virus came down very fast when it finally arrived. Emma Swift and I had four shows booked in Colorado, and even as we left Nashville Airport on March 12 we believed we’d get to play all of them. By midday of the 13th it was clear from the news coming in that our show at Swallow Hill would be the last for the foreseeable future.
The hall was at around one-third capacity: the previous year it had been full. Before I went onstage I heard the announcer say the venue would be closed till June, when they planned to re-open with Nick Lowe. Nick, like me, has been sitting at home for a year now…
The audience and us did our best to create a vibe, despite the terminal atmosphere. It had been a grey afternoon – humanity was draining away from the streets of Denver. It looked like Christmas, or a double-Sunday, or both. We could all feel that this time tomorrow, the place would be deserted and all the pianos backstage would be gathering dust.
Also it was becoming clear that people shouldn’t be standing too close to each other now. The meet-and-greet afterwards felt awkward: no handshakes or photographs. Emma, unusually, stayed backstage. Only a week before we’d been grooving after the show with old friends outside the Hotel Congress in Tucson, AZ. Now, the further away from everyone the better.
As Emma and I left the building and stepped into the night, I took this photo as a memento of 40 years on the road…so far. “Everything Ends In Denver” is a great movie title. I hope it isn’t so…
All the best to you and the Swallow Hill people: hope to see you all again one day.”
We couldn’t agree more with Robyn and are longing for the day when we can again welcome audiences back to Daniels Hall.
This January, we did welcome live music back to Daniels Hall with a concert from Mollie O’Brien & Rich Moore that was streamed for home audiences. On St. Patrick’s Day we will welcome Avourneen to Daniels, who will also perform live for a remote audience.
We’ll hang onto Robyn’s setlist as a reminder of what was once a beloved but commonplace happening in Daniels Hall – a gathering of performers and audiences to enjoy music together – and that we will share those experiences with one another again when it is safe to do so.
Although they are not touring at the moment, Robyn Hitchcock and Emma Swift perform weekly LIVE FROM SWEET HOME QUARANTINE shows. You can learn more about those events here. You can also support Robyn on Patreon. Emma, meanwhile, released Blonde on the Tracks, her critically acclaimed album of Bob Dylan covers.