Governor Hindmarsh Hotel, Tue 28 May.
Jen Cloher opens her short set with a beautiful version of Regional Echo, from her recent self-titled CD. She has everyone’s attention. Her songs are perfectly suited to this stripped back format and are warmly received. Her set includes Fear Is Like A Forest, recently covered by Kurt Vile and Courtney Barnett. Before finishing with Strong Woman she entertains with a hilarious tale from her time spent growing up in Adelaide. She also reveals that she has been recording with Jeff Tweedy at the helm and will be back before the end of the year to present the results. A crowded room is listening.
Jeff Tweedy launches into Via Chicago from Wilco’s Summerteeth album. The opening line, “I dreamed about killing you again last night and it felt alright to me,” sets the tone for Tweedy to deliver a bleakly comic banter suggesting that he is here to make us feel sad and miserable, in case we can’t do it on our own.
He attracts, and responds to, comments from the audience, and the intimacy of The Gov allows for a conversation that is at times hilarious and always self-deprecating. He tells the room that his musicianship is no big deal – that everyone here can play a harmonica – then manages to find the exception!
Tweedy delivers a ninety minute sample from a strong back catalogue, and judging by the audience requests he is only scraping the surface. Half the material tonight is from the Wilco vaults, from the melodic I Am Trying To Break Your Heart, to the slightly unhinged Passenger Side. Impossible Germany and Hummingbird are also clear audience faves. There are two Uncle Tupelo songs, but we are also treated to songs from his two excellent solo albums Warm and Warmer. (He promises there will not be a third ‘Hot’ album).
Tweedy’s audience is a dedicated lot. When it comes to Jesus, Etc. the whole room is singing along. And this is not a simple ‘na na na’ singalong song, nor one that would have received massive airplay. In fact Tweedy quips that he has never really had a hit. When someone from the audience says they bought his albums he replies, “Yeah, but you forget to tell your friends to buy one too.” So he has to carry on writing songs for an audience of one…
Introducing Let’s Go Rain again brings Tweedy’s bleak humour to the fore, where he suggests that it may be time for Noah to build another Ark, and ponders what on earth it was that people did last time that was worse than what we are doing now!
But it is the songs that are the revelations. Sometimes you go to a gig to see a display of great musicianship, sometimes maybe a spectacular light show or dance routine. Tonight there are no frills – just two consummate songwriters performing solo with just their voice, a guitar, their personality… and their songs. On this occasion the result is resoundingly brilliant!
Images courtesy of Adrian Miller
Set List – Jen Cloher:
Fear Is Like A Forest
Set List – Jeff Tweedy:
Remember The Mountain Bed
I Am Trying To Break Your Heart
Having Been Is No Way To Be
I’m Always In Love
I Know What It’s Like
Let’s Go Rain
The Late Greats
I’m The Man Who Loves You