Jeremy Neale: All charm in Melbourne

A handful of months on from releasing Getting the Team Back Together Jeremy Neale has been taking the stunning debut on the road. Jumping on stage at Melbourne’s workers club with a packed bill created a Friday night that no one will be forgetting any time soon.

The night was opened with a charming set from Spit who managed to both dedicate a song to a dog that isn’t yet owned, as well as a song introduced by one member about another to be written for “both his girlfriend, and his cat.” Their indie rock sound had a dreamlike quality that perfectly matched the quirky lyrics on offer. Not only was it a wonderfully suited support slot for Jeremy Neale’s ‘nicest guy in music’ reputation, but it was a reminder of the joy of wholesome yet honest music.

Self Talk packed the stage out, with the limited space of Workers Club making them look bigger than in real life. Thankfully, they could match it with their music. It was joyous, and relatable, and most of all it was the kind of music that makes you feel good for simply engaging in it. The set swung between older and fresh cuts, each delivered in an energetic fashion that meant that no matter the familiarity, or lack thereof, there was a reason to get involved.

An impressive figure on stage, Jim Lawrie had a wealth of material to work through in a support slot. But, he made the most of it. Each track picked up a new sense of energy in their live renditions, and it felt very much like a rock show. All the other acts playing were very much in that indie rock vibe, but Lawrie took the level of rawness to a new level. It fit remarkably well with the other bands, offering a shift in texture, but still remaining within the theme of the night. Whilst unfamiliar with Lawrie’s work, it was easy to see not only the sheer amount of talent in his playing, but recognise the skill behind writing. It was the perfect set to be introduced to his work, and encourage a few more listens after.

Working through a best of from his discography, Neale left no phase of his career untouched. It’s weird to say though, about an act just off their debut album, that an audience genuinely wanted to hear more, but it felt as if so much was missing. Every song was perfectly played, every line tickled the heartstrings, but what was missing was at least a quarter of the songs that initially lured us to Jeremy Neale. But, in having said that, it was in fact a well-rounded set, and with a discography as extensive and high quality as Neale’s this was bound to happen.

When Jeremy Neale announced he had two more songs to go, a heckler pointed out he surely had more. Neale proceeded to laugh and list of the full extent of his catalogue. It wasn’t a bragging move, but still offered a severe reminder as to how much he has released as an artist, and the influence he has had over fans through the years. As you looked across the room, it was hard not to spot someone you’d see, or chatted to at a Jeremy Neale gig prior, and you could see Jeremy Neale greeting fans by name and with a hug. He’s known as the nicest guy in music, and there is a reason for it. But when he got on stage, fans were rapidly reminded that it’s not just his personality that has one him fans.

A highlight is hard to find in the show, as each listener seemed to have a different connection with each track. There were always bodies moving in the room, but the pocket of which it was happening altered around the place as the set spun out. Yet the closing moments, with ‘In Stranger Times’ playing out, was the perfect time to recognise what makes Jeremy Neale so great. The open banter, the quirky lyrics, and just the sheer honesty of his material and personality sum together to make the perfect experience. We don’t get Jeremy Neale on stages near us often enough, so we can only hope he finds a cause to swing south again soon.

Photos: Jeremy Neale, Jim Lawrie and Self Talk. BY RO FLACK

Submit a comment