Live Review: Tweedy, Those Pretty Wrongs

22 March 2016 | 12:47 pm | Joe Dolan

"Tweedy offer an unconventional plethora of styles and performance, as they and special guest Courtney Barnett annihilate their final moments..."

"My brain's a little Down Under," jokes singer Jody Stephens, as Those Pretty Wrongs welcome the incoming audience. Stephens, former drummer of 1970s pop outfit Big Star, looks awkwardly off into the distance as he and guitarist Luther Russell blend simple harmonies with complex 12-string fills and riffs. As a duo, TPW tussle with bouts of off-key vocals and lyrical monotony. However, their saving graces are in their carnival odyssey The Cube and Big Star classic Thirteen, a charming tribute to Stephens' former bandmates.

Tweedy emerge from the wings of Melbourne Recital Centre and waste no time, diving straight into a choice picking from their 20-song strong debut, Sukierae. Along with his son Spencer on drums, Jeff Tweedy of Wilco fame takes the helm and the band drive head first into a rousing intermingling of country waltzes and alt-rock dissonance. Tweedy Sr gently swaggers at centre stage while the rest of the Tweedy crew stand to attention close behind. The only exception being bassist Darin Gray, whose spirited enthusiasm stands alone from the group's otherwise reserved demeanour. Tweedy Jr keeps a focused eye on his father as the young drummer expertly beats his way through the tremendous Diamond Light Pt 1 and the awesomely clamorous World Away. Within an instant any suggestion of nepotism is swiftly put to rest. This guy was born to drum. 

As the band leave, the lights dim to just a single spotlight for the elder Tweedy to shine in his own glow with a lengthy set of hits from his back catalogue. "I'm gonna make you happy to see me go," he declares, before mesmerising the crowd with an effortless delivery of old Wilco favourites such as Yankee Hotel Foxtrot's Jesus, Etc and A.M's Passenger Side. His lyrics clearly still hold an immense gravitas for both himself and his audience, though without the full Wilco sound much of this is lost in the overcompensation of Tweedy's guitarist flare.

Tweedy the band return again and blast into an explosion of Please Don't Let Me Be So Understood and the Mavis Staples hit Only The Lord Knows — on which Tweedy Sr was a producer. A blazing end to the show's night, it is made all the more confusing by the appearance of a second encore of more subdued tracks. However, Tweedy offer an unconventional plethora of styles and performance, as they and special guest Courtney Barnett annihilate their final moments onstage with a thunderous tribute to the late David Bowie.

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