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Jeff Tweedy — 24 May 2019, Meeniyan, Australia (Meeniyan Town Hall)

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I will try and put aside the difficulties I, my partner, my friends, and some others nearby experienced with some very rude inconsiderate talkers, who went out of their way to make our lives a misery for this show, despite our pleas for them to be quiet (in fact that seemed to spur them on to behave worse). I'll instead concentrate on what a special place Meeniyan is and what a special show this was. If I do refer back to these people forgive me, it is still somewhat traumatic for me writing this just under 24 hours later from the show.


Meeniyan is a very small town approximately 2 hours east of Melbourne (population around 650), with a town hall that holds 260 people in a format where people sit around assigned tables, and BYO food and drink (including alcohol) is encouraged. There is no bar here! Why Meeniyan? Good question, all I can proffer is that they have a passionate and dedicated arts and music team at the local council, who have formed relationships with tour promoters to bring local and international artists to this town. Shows always sell out, and until this show tonight, every other show I have seen here is met with a quiet hush of a crowd respectful and passionate for music. Artists and audience alike love this town and venue. It really is a special place.


Tonight is Jeff's second time at this venue, last visiting in 2016 with the Tweedy band, which I also wrote a lengthy show of at the time on here. With me following this tour and flying back from Brisbane to Melbourne, I happened to see Jeff and his entourage (Eric, Stan and Matrix) at the airport lounge in Brisbane as we ended up on the same flight (there's only 2 airlines and not a lot of flights, so my odds of getting the same flight were strong). I had a brief chat to Jeff in the lounge, where he mentioned that because Meeniyan would have no support, the show would be an evening with format and a longer show. This made me extra excited for this show, knowing we'd be getting a longer than 90 minute show and who knows what rarities would be in there as well. The show did not disappoint one bit.


Opening with the by now familiar Via Chicago, Jeff threw a curveball from Sydney and Brisbane by going straight to Remember The Mountain Bed, then the usual Bombs Above and Some Birds.


After this, Jeff asked us how we were, and asked if we were drinking champagne because he could hear corks popping. Someone offered him a beer, to which Jeff said it's been 25 years sure why not, then someone yelled out to read his book!


I Am Trying To Break Your Heart up next. After that, he asked us how we were again (good!), that he can't see us and it feels like with the candle lights he can see it's like he's landing a plane in the 1800's. "Did you guys bring food as well, am I hearing chomping? I didn't add that into the equation about how this evening was going to go". 


After New Madrid, Jeff commented that he could see 2 people arguing outside the door which was a little distracting. We then got the story about the original title of Warm/er being Open Kimono, but unlike Brisbane and Sydney shows, Jeff explained the reason - Spencer saw his frail blind grandfather coming down the stairs wearing an open kimono. "Spencer started doing drugs that night, that I bought for him!" (much laugher ensues).  


A fantastic Family Ghost followed, then straight into Impossible Germany. Then after that, he mentioned someone requested Marquee Moon. So Jeff then played the guitar riff from the song for a minute or so with Jeff in rock pose mode, to much laughter and applause. It was a great moment in the show. The audience member then yelled out 'request fulfilled!".


Jeff then asked the audience for Q&A. First question is, where was the guitar and strings from. Jeff started to answer, then pretended to fall asleep mid sentence. "Well that went well, Q&A was a smashing success!". Audience member "where do you live!" Jeff - "where do I live, where do you live! I'm from Chicago, although i'm not originally from there. Do you actually know who am I? I think I've come to an actual town hall meeting"  :D


After You and I we got the now familiar story about his wife hating that song, and also the next song, which if you're reading this you'll know very well by now. During that though you could hear a baby. 'Is that a baby? Is someone eating a baby?!'


After Guaranteed, we got the 'woo' story again he shared in Sydney (see Sydney show review for story). Jeff then asked if any of us had been to the Brisbane show? (yes!). He went on to tell how the audience made up a story about signs not to sing along, which was not true at all, they went and looked for the signs. It was a strange lie to tell to a performer, why would they lie to me! Audience member - fck those guys. Jeff - I'm not going to say that one of my crew is from there. Audience member - love those guys! Jeff - then when they started to sing he wished they had put signs up! They weren't eating babies :D More sounds of bottles being opened then distracted Jeff - are you guys gassy? It sounds like you're all farting  :D


Hummingbird eventually followed. "You like the whistling huh? I'll whistle for the rest of the show". Not quite true, but after I Know What It's Like we did The Ruling Class, presumably as a result of the cheers for the whistling. Before that though, someone yelled out what did the think of the Cubs this year? "you're confusing me, someone is talking about baseball with an Australian accent. I don't really care for the Cubs, I grew up closer to St Louis so I'm a Cardinals fan, but I have to keep that to myself becausr they hate the Cardinals in Chicago. Anyway.. good talk everyone  :D I'm more of a... what's their name again? (BT the tour promoter yells out Tigers from side of stage) I'm more of a Tigers fan! ( cheers and boos). I love the Tigers, they're really good! I think the Tigers are going to do really well this year, because the Crows are terrible! That was just a guess, how can they be any good. Crows? Lions! No, Lions are no good. (someone yells out to play a song). Did someone just yell out play a song? You play a song! I've already played 20 songs i can do what I want. You guys have already eaten all your babies! I've been complimenting your sportsball team... Then finally The Ruling Class is played  :D Side note for those who don't know - Jeff was referring to Australian Rules Football teams. The promoter BT is a passionate Richmond supporter. Also pro tip for Jeff - don't say the Crows are terrible in Adelaide you may not make it out alive  :D


Let's Go Rain was followed by a touching story I hadn't heard Jeff tell before. Someone yelled out that they'd met Scott McCaughey. Jeff asked him where he met Scott. "Scott is named in that song because he's one of my oldest dearest friends, he's a true believer, and I wrote this song for him when he had a stroke last year and I sent it him, and the original lyrics were let's go play let's go play rock'n'roll again, but I kept that line in there because I wanted to remind myself where that song came from. Anyway, Scott played in R.E.M. Minus 5, Young Fresh Fellows... anyway I think that song fixed him! He's a great guy."  It was a touching moment. 


After California Stars someone mentioned Billy Bragg has played here. "Billy Bragg played here a few months ago? I don't care (laughter). Whatever. Did he play California Stars?" (side note, no he didn't). Jeff then tried a bad Billy Bragg accent to much laughter. He did go to lengths to say he didn't say have any bad feelings to him. A touching version of Evergreen then followed, a fantastic little tune. 


Unfortunately by this point of the show, our table neighbours to the left of us and behind us were being rowdy. The man in front of them to the left of us then yelled out to them to please stop just as Theologians started, which Jeff could hear and started to slow down his playing, and led to a tense time. I won't go into the lack of manners from our table neighbours, except I'll leave this one quote for you to digest, which this woman actually said to my friend “If you want to hear the artist play without people talking you should stay at home and listen to the record.” Yes, you can't make that up.


Jeff then said thanks for coming, this is a special place and he hopes to come back many more times. At this point, a woman then interjected that she wanted to say something. Basically it was along the lines of thanking him for support the women of Australian music like Jen Cloher, Courtney Barnett and others. Jeff said thank you and he wasn't sure where it was going that she might have been angry for not bringing Jen here. Jeff then said that men aren't making much good music these days. Men! 


A rousing ITMWLY closed out the set, with Jeff sliding off stage right. Yelling, clapping and whistling ensued to bring him back. I thought i heard the opening chords of Misunderstood, but someone yelled out for Don't Forget, and we got that, then a brilliant A Shot In The Arm, then that was it. 2 hours of wonderful entertainment, 25 songs and brilliant banter from one of the finest songwriters of our generation. Thank you Jeff. 


So 3 down, 3 to go. On to Melbourne next!



Via Chicago
Remember The Mountain Bed
Bombs Above
Some Birds
I Am Trying To Break Your Heart
New Madrid
Family Ghost
Impossible Germany

Marquee Moon (snippet)
You And I
I Know What It's Like
The Ruling Class
Having Been Is No Way To Be
Let's Go Rain
Jesus, etc
Laminated Cat
Passenger Side
California Stars


Heavy Metal Drummer
I'm The Man Who Loves You

Don't Forget
A Shot In The Arm

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