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Jeff Tweedy — 30 January 2018, Dublin, Ireland (Vicar Street)

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Well, as is all too often the case with these recaps, I have far too much ground to cover in the immediate aftermath of a show and definitely not enough time to cover it (at least if a modicum of sleep is to be had and sanity is to be maintained). So this will probably be another mediocre attempt at summation, but when it comes to the relatively rare solo show performed by Jeff on this side of the pond, I suppose something is better than nothing... :beer

Aside from me being chastised afterwards by a rather passive-aggressive older Irishman sitting in front of me for singing along too loudly and ruining the show for him — which I don't think I really was, for the record, and anyway was a personal issue between him and I and had no bearing on the show itself — I thought tonight was an excellent kickoff to a short four-show solo run by Jeff in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Ostensibly, this is a tour to promote the Together At Last album but I think probably an even bigger highlight for much of the crowd was hearing both three new songs (including one live debut) as well as some old favorites that didn't make it onto TAL.

It had been more than 11 years since Jeff's only previous solo appearance at Vicar Street (though he did perform a solo set as part of the Tweedy band's show at the venue almost exactly three years prior), and I don't believe any complete recording of that 2006 set has ever surfaced, nor have many reports. As a result, it's difficult to assess how this show might have compared to that one but I do know from experience that Jeff has really become a confident solo performer over the past decade. Part of that is the ability to read a crowd, to deal with various comments and requests, to tell a story or come up with a quip when necessary and I have to say that Jeff really has mastered those skills you need to keep an audience's interest when it's just you on stage with an acoustic guitar.

And the Irish crowd tonight proved to be a near-ideal match for Jeff in terms of providing some energy and rambunctiousness without being too rowdy. I've long maintained that the ideal Jeff solo show is neither a recital nor a free-for-all, but you want some of both elements to create a fun, entertaining performance. In this regard, both performer and audience seemed pretty comfortable with one another almost from the start.

Early on, perhaps spurred by some comments from the gallery, Jeff launched into one of his bits about being a performer that audiences always seem to pity a bit. "People look at me and think I need encouragement," he joked. "It's a con, a trick. I'm probably the most secure person you've ever seen." Then after someone else remarked how he liked Jeff's long hair (which, incidentally, was not braided), Jeff explained that he had not cut it since the last U.S. presidential election and that he hated having long hair but that he "really wanted to remind himself to be uncomfortable. ... Does it make me a hero? Probably." :lol

Even the crowd got into the act a bit when, for example, Jeff played one of his new songs (Let's Go Rain) that has an oft-repeated line about rain and also name-checks Scott McCaughey. After the song, Jeff asked, "Do you guys know Scott McCaughey?" When there was almost no response, one audience member could be heard saying, "No, but we know rain." ;)

Other visits to Banter Corner included a story about watching a video of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young playing in front of 80,000 people at Wembley Stadium and how they were "totally destroyed" and Stephen Stills was possibly walking around with a baby on stage and at one point said to the audience that they really made him want to try out some of his new songs. Jeff told the story by way of introducing the the third and final new song he played (I believe for the first time ever live), which had a pretty upbeat melody but definitely some lyrics that dealt with mortality like "Don't forget we always think about dying/Don't let it kill you."

Following that song, Jeff said, "Let's try something a little less deathy," before going on a tangent about how he sometimes got asked to play celebratory events and how it "sometimes feels wildly inappropriate." Jeff then told the story about having to play a solo acoustic set after a funk big band — it was Cory Henry and the Funk Apostles at the Pickathon Music Festival in Oregon, fwiw — and how the funk band had gotten the crowd to wave their arms in the air and say everything was gonna be all right and Jeff came out and basically delivered the message that "everything's not gonna be all right." :unsure

Before Jeff attempted to play Hesitating Beauty, which really proved to be his only stumble of the evening when he couldn't remember the lyrics a couple different times, he also talked briefly about how many of the Mermaid Avenue songs were recorded in Dublin, but how he hated being in the city then because he wasn't healthy. He did mention enjoying some soda bread and reading Moby Dick during the Mermaid sessions, though. :pirate

I'm sure there are a few other bits of banter that I'm not remembering just about now, but anyway, it was a fine night all around — grumpy Irish oldsters notwithstanding — and a special shout out to Stan for making this one sound so good. The carpeting and wood paneling at Vicar Street help with the acoustics, I'm sure, but I generally thought the sound was as good as I've heard a solo show in quite some time. Here's hoping for a few more quality performances this week, which will get the 2018 Tweedy schedule off to a good start. :thumbup

Here was the complete setlist, as played:

Via Chicago (w/harmonica)
I Am Trying To Break Your Heart
new song-Bombs Above
We've Been Had
Passenger Side
Lost Love
Born Alone
new song-Let's Go Rain
New Madrid
One Wing
Bull Black Nova
Laminated Cat (aka Not For The Season)
new song-Don't Forget (live debut)
Hesitating Beauty (started and restarted)
Jesus, etc.
I'm The Man Who Loves You
California Stars
A Shot in the Arm

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Great review of the Dublin Show.  My husband and I are seeing Jeff this saturday at the Barbican Center in London.   Can you give me an idea of what time Jeff went on?  And how was James Elkington.  We are traveling from Chicago to London strictly to see Tweedy.  We arrive that morning and I am concerned we are going to need a major nap to fully enjoy the show.  Thank you .

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Great review of the Dublin Show.  My husband and I are seeing Jeff this saturday at the Barbican Center in London.   Can you give me an idea of what time Jeff went on?  And how was James Elkington.  We are traveling from Chicago to London strictly to see Tweedy.  We arrive that morning and I am concerned we are going to need a major nap to fully enjoy the show.  Thank you .


I suggest looking at Twitter (Jeff Tweedy handle) day of the show. They've been posted set times.Tonight for instance was tweeted as 7:45 Elkington 8:35 Jeff Tweedy

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Ta. Was probably a one-off of craic corner. Looking forward to Saturday. For once the missus maybe persuaded to attend. If not there's a 4th or 5th row centre ticket with your name on it if that's better than what you might have (if you are interested).

Ooh, I would love to meet Mrs. Tatlock so I hope she can make it! I think I am pretty well sorted for the gig, though I do very much appreciate your thinking of me with regard to your potential extra ticket. Some of the Irish would likely forewarn you against sitting near me, though, so I hope the Welsh are a bit more forgiving.


Also, how was James E. I make a point of seeing openers, but I'd like to know if I should strive to get there on time what with a commute and Wales v Scotland being on in the afternoon.

As far as the very genial Mr. Elkington, if you tend to enjoy your singer-songwriters on the folkier, pastoral side with a bit of an Anglo-American twist, then you’d probably enjoy him. He’s got a bit of Jansch in him, as someone mentioned, but his songs have definitely grown on me. As for whether he would hold your interest more than the ruggers, that might be more difficult...
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Thanks BBOP for the great review of last Mon.night in Vicar St.

I was there and also at the previous solo show all those years ago when Jeff got an inebriated Scottish guy to stand up and apologise to the audience for his behaviour.

Monday was a really great gig and pity we weren't beside you as we were singing loudly as well, and as an Irish man of 59 would've told your "friend" to behave.

I made the comment about Jeff's log hair and thought he enjoyed the banter.

Excellent set list , great sound , lovely audience , what more can you ask for a Monday night in Dublin !

Actually thought he was coming back for one more encore as they had left the stage lights on , but unfortunately no dice.

Thanks again for the recollections and perhaps catch up next time.

Enjoy the rest of tour.

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