Jeff Tweedy & James Elkington, Vicar Street, Dublin, Jan 30th

Jeff Tweedy & James Elkington, Vicar Street, Dublin, Jan 30th
www.wilcoworld.net

Jeff Tweedy elaborates duly when someone from the audience hollers: “What’s with the long hair, Jeff?”. Basically the Wilco front man and tonight solo performer has not cut it since the US election. He finds it highly uncomfortable, in fact he hates having long hair. But seeing that so many people suffer in the US in the current situation and Jeff Tweedy regards himself as privileged, the least he could do was trying to find a way to feel uncomfortable too. This exchange took place on the evening of the following event: Jeff Tweedy & James Elkington, Vicar Street, Dublin, Jan 30th!

Now, I am pretty sure that Jeff Tweedy was being his usual humble self about his annoying long hair being the only contribution in view of the current political climate of the US, but it is too good an introduction to this post to miss.

Yes, I feel privileged in my life as well but have been under a lot of mental pressure up to burn-out lately, so I had myself a wee present. Although the time off was shortish and it really drove me almost insane to find time for it in the first place, a couple of days off just by myself, in Dublin, and taking in some music was a big treat.

So I tried to remember what I used to do all those years back in Dublin and indulged in doing that again. Bookshops, record shops, vintage shops, loads of walking about to old haunts, people watching, meeting people again. Same me, same Dublin, really in a nutshell and it made me very happy. (Okay, forget the old shock when catching my face in a shop window – wow, has it been that long ago that I did this?)

But you don’t want to read about this (even though, I still warmly recommend Dublin for a lot of things aside from the usual – entry point to Ireland, shamrocks and stag and hen parties: The mountains, the sea, the suburbs, the museums, the sheer poetry in people’s conversations, a mug of tea, a pint of this and that…).

Won’t torment you any longer. So, Vicar Street it is. My first time there and it seems a great and lively venue. I am pleasantly surprised that tonight’s concert is seating only and my feet will be forever thankful. Must say though, I am pretty sure though that I had clicked the front area rather than the block to the side when choosing the ticket. After all, I was worrying for ages that I might block everyone’s view being tall and on moderate heels…

Convivial and listing great acts, Vicar Street for me though features a bit of a problem with that seating idea. Comfy as it is and suitable for quieter acts definitely, it should mean, stay bloody well seated, which of course most people don’t adhere to – so for every drink and every visit to the loo and what not, the whole row of seats has to get up, and people keep swarming by in front of you and clambering through the seats.

The support act possibly gets the worst of it. Not only half the audience did not bother to turn up for the support act, James Elkington. There was incessant moving and talking, even from the door staff (of course one girl in particular told her life story in a grating voice, sorry, yeah, you, has to be said). James Elkington seemed to be blissfully unaware of this, found  the audience eerily quiet and would prefer to be talked over as much as possible.

No need for that though. James Elkington has been shying the limelight since his days as front man of The Zincs – since then he has been collaborating with and contributing to a gazillion bands and artists of many genres, Steve Gunn, Richard Thompson, Eleventh Dream Day, Laetitia Sadier, Joan Shelley to name but a few. Eventually though with a bit of pressure of Steve Gunn (good man, yourself!, James Elkington released his solo album “Wintres Woma” last summer via Paradise of Bachelors and what a wondrous treat it is.

Tonight he performs most of the songs of the album and impresses everyone with his truly amazing guitar mastery. Personally I am relieved that a performance that I saw online where James’ voice went a bit all over the place was an exception or done under unfavourable circumstances because his voice is  now pitchperfect and accompanies the songs that if not intentionally but certainly subconsciously so, draw on a well of traditions including his native English folk music wonderfully.

A short break (and this time people are turfed out of the bar into the venue for Jeff Tweedy’s arrival) and then I do not know what hit me. A roaring reception for Jeff Tweedy who unceremoniously in Stetson and jacket walks on stage and starts to play. I have never had the chance to see Wilco live, so I cannot compare but to me the songs of Jeff Tweedy’s solo album “Together At Last” in their stripped down simplicity are very magic, and live on stage – wheyhey….That acoustic guitar is not even plugged in. There is Jeff, there are two microphones and the guitar. But man, the songs (a great selection from all over the Wilco catalogue plus some Loose Fur and Uncle Tupelo oeuvres) do not lack anything at all. To me Jeff Tweedy has one of the finest voices in contemporary music that can express anything (mostly it is of course of a more melancholic nature).

Neither did I expect to be bent over double, my sides splitting with laughter about Jeff’s deadpan banter between the songs. Sorry for the people behind me who were clearly filming and now have my howling laughter in the videos…Back to songs and there were still tears enough for those fragile songs that pull on every heart- and soul string that you might possess. A singalong, a long show, a truly satisfying one and too right we are all getting up at the end to salute Jeff Tweedy.

Thank you, best ever!

Note: Jeff Tweedy announced more solo concerts in the US and later in the year in Europe! www.wilcoworld.net

Setlist:

Via Chicago

I Am Trying To Break Your Heart

Bombs Above

We’ve Been Had

Passenger Side

Locator

Hummingbird

Lost Love

Born Alone

Noah’s Flood (Let’s Go Rain Again)

New Madrid

One Wing

Bull Black Nova

Laminated Cat

Don’t Forget We All Think About Dying

Hesitating Beauty

Jesus, Etc.

I’m The Man Who Loves You

California Stars

Kamera

A Shot In The Arm

 

Laucan and more

Summertime = no releases time? Ha, not really. Of course I will let you participate generously in the wealth of music to pick from and hope you will find something you will like or even love. First up:

Laucan

It was only in March that London musician Laucan (Laurence Alpin) released his first EP “Up Tomorrow”. Hey presto, here is his first album via Sunday Best: “Frames Per Second”. A dreamy, magical album with loads to discover (the strings sections are just beautiful). A debut album that will certainly in my collection last me a lifetime. Musically, Laucan is supported by Andrew Phillips – lyrically it is partly about the control of our own thoughts, releasing our outlooks from the prison we created for them.

Kerosene Stars

From there to something a bit more upbeat: Kerosene Stars from Chicago are Scott Schaafsma, Andy Seagram, Todd Honeyville, Jim Adair and Tom Sorich.  They are not afraid to play a catchy melody and they do it oh so well! Their latest releases are the EPs “Burn The Evidence” and “a million little trees” and out just now “The Lost EP”. Timeless, well-made gems!

Laucan and more

James Elkington

Staying in Chicago, for years now the home of James Elkington. You could not have missed James Elkington playing somewhere, surely? And you could not have missed his solo release? Just in case. Let me keep it short (a difficult feat in the case of information about Jim Elk). Steve Gunn calls him the best guitar player around and an incredibly humble person. Who would argue with Steve? Anyhow, that combination of skill and humbleness might just explain why James Elkington has only now released his first solo album after years of supporting other artists and bands (the list is endless: Jeff Tweedy, Richard Thompson, Steve Gunn, Brokeback, Eleventh Dream Day, Joan Shelley, Tara Jane O’Neil, Michael Chapman…). Initially he was frontman of a band called The Zincs but felt no need to be at the front or on the songwriting side for a long time. Thankfully he changed his mind and here we have his technically (he also plays drums, bass, piano…) wonderful and atmospherically wondrous album “Wintres Woma” (Paradise Of Bachelors)

 

 

Laucan and more
James Elkington by Timothy Harris

Moon Goose

Cherryshoes from Hay on Wye have us enthralled with their music. Wonderful news so that Cherryshoes now have a sister project: Moon Goose. Wait for it, I cannot keep their own description from you: “Moon goose has crawled out of the primal swamp and taken a good look around. The resulting bird has flapped madly around a barn with a load of guitars strapped to one wing and a synthesizer on the other, while it flies repeatedly into some drums. Made out of bits of comet and whalebone, the music that people are already calling ‘epic’ and ‘unlistenable’ throws a jagged beam of light in the growing darkness, to reveal some people using a barn as a giant amplifier. Duchamp put a toilet in an art gallery. Moon goose put music in a bag and shook it around until it was in bits, poured the bits out, and set fire to them. It’s the sound of a dragon colliding with an asteroid. If you enjoy things like gneiss, rare cheese, and strange ideas followed through to an illogical conclusion, you’ll love Moon goose.”

Laucan and more

There you have it – and you know what? That description fits and the music is absolutely hypnotising! Their debut EP Space Probe Shut Down is on its way. Here’s the first single: The mysterious coffins of Arthur’s Seat.

Prana Crafter

I leave you today with intriguing music from the Washington woods: Prana Crafter. His latest album “MindStreamBlessing” is the musical impersonation of the title. For my favourite track from it – Agatha’s gate – there is now a video available. Indulge here: