I caught Tim Robbins in piratical mood at London’s Barbican last night. Sporting a jaunty bandanna on his head and strumming his guitar with a buccaneering swagger, he was one of a motley crew of musicians, including Martha Wainwright, Suzanne Vega, Eliza Carthy and Robyn Hitchcock, performing a rum collection of pirate ballads, sea songs and chanteys on the Barbican stage.
Called Rogue’s Galley, the event was the offspring of a project dreamed up by Johnny Depp and director Gore Verbinski while they were working on Pirates of the Caribbean 2.
Steeped to the gills in the pirate culture and songs of the era, they approached legendary producer Hal Willner, who set sail in 2006 with a crew of rock, pop and folk greats to produce a 2-CD album of songs. Now, two years later, their notion has become a series of concerts in New York, Dublin and London.
Whether singing solo or duetting with Shane MacGowan, Robbins proved a good salty sea dog last night. OK, so his voice doesn’t have MacGowan’s boozy slur, the gravelly gargle of Baby Gramps, or the bluesy rasp of Sandy Dillon, but at least he can carry a tune, unlike some other thesps turned singers. (Prepare to be keelhauled, Pierce Brosnan!)
Here’s a glimpse of Robbins the singer in this Dylan-inspired clip from his 1992 satirical movie Bob Roberts