Thursday, November 30, 2006

No Depression Here

I bought a new phone last week. It doesn't have a flash.

Still, I didn't go to see Jeff Tweedy last night at Vicar Street with any intention of taking pictures. It just so happened that, when I met up with the very decent chaps who'd purchased my ticket for me, they'd managed to secure a table in the very front row, only feet from the microphone, so that I could rest my pint on the stage and hold my mobile relatively steadily.

Vicar Street was packed to the rafters, and although it's self-described as an "intimate venue," it requires some stage presence for any solo artist performing an acoustic set to retain the concentration and interest of a crowd of 700 or so punters. Fortunately, Tweedy was able to do it, helped to some degree, I suspect, by the fact that this was his only Irish gig, and fans of his have endured a dearth of appearances in these parts. They were rapt throughout and laughed even at the most inane comment.

Tweedy played a decent amount of Wilco material, from A Ghost Is Born and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot but nothing, as I recall, from the Mermaid Avenue albums, even though there was a girl tables away from me repeatedly shouting for "California Stars," one of my favourite songs of all time. Apparently, Tweedy has around 200 songs in his repertoire and back catalog that he chooses from as the mood takes him on the night, and generally he didn't disappoint, although he could have puked up on stage last night and the audience would have paid to see it. Such an eventuality was discussed, since he used to puke before gigs on a regular basis, and one punter declared from the balcony that he wouldn't be happy unless there was puking.

For the second encore, he made the touching gesture of coming to the very edge of the stage, unplugging his microphone and the mike attached to his guitar, and singing an Uncle Tupelo song au naturel. You could have heard a mouse fart.

Sadly, I missed the support band, Groom (I'm told they used to be called Get a Room), friends of a couple of work colleagues, but I was forced to be polite to my companions, who insisted on going to the bar for several beers before the main event, and I wasn't in a position to refuse. Such are the sacrifices we make for the sake of seeing a touch of genius.


Reidski said...

Wasn't California Stars written by Woody Guthrie and featured on the album Wilco done with Bragg? If so, would have to agree that it truly is a beautiful song and Tweedy's voice is sublime on it.

John said...

Hi Reidski--

Yes, that's the one.

How was Hawley?