Having a man who, just forty minutes ago, threw TicTacs around the stage and screeched about TikTok, stare through your soul as he covers Bob Dylan’s Shot of Love classic, Lenny Bruce, is an incredible feeling. Fear of God. Fear of Death. Tim Heidecker and his No More Bullshit tour, accompanied by The Very Good Band have it all. A tour of two halves but one man holding it together in both sections provides a night that blurs together everything Heidecker has been working toward for the better half of a decade. Funny man, music man, talented man. Storming through a split set at Newcastle’s historic Riverside was a tall order for a first-time tour, but Heidecker and friends rise to the challenge and give the city one of its finest river-based experiences.
Heidecker tucks himself neatly between a first act of steady fourth wall breaks that spark well and a light, loose bit of live music that cements how grand a performer Heidecker is. His first-act caricature pokes fun at the 200,000 or so shows Frank Sinatra allegedly played on Riverside, but one evening with Heidecker is more fun, more challenging and more engaging than anything Sinatra could do. Mainly because Sinatra is dead. Transitioning between the No More Bullshit alter ego and the live performance is as straightforward as it gets, with a costume change to note the change in pace and structure of the show. Crucially though, Heidecker is as funny as a character as he is as himself. Even when the man is not listing his top five holidays, he is cracking up at an unhinged Dylan deep cut or rallying the band together to play The Kooks’ Victoria.
Recycling the best bits of his No More Bullshit live set from a few years back but evolving the concept gives the UK tour a new feel to it. There is a feigned animosity on the furrowed brow of a leather jacket-clad comedian, hurling the microphone away when a joke does not land. It is a fine form of irreverent comedy, and the live experience is different in the extremes to that of a live taping. But the real highlight is Heidecker and The Very Good Band coming together to rattle off covers, cuts and singles from their work together. Their musicianship is as strong as ever, a nice feel flows through a set doused in Hot Piss and articulating some delightful High School tracks. Fear of Death tracks make an appearance too, a nicely rounded set even if Heidecker later admits to forgetting a couple. Ever the hero, he fires through those missed songs at the end and displays that instrumental talent.
Storming the stage in several outfits, raging away at everything from political matters to covers of Dylan deep cuts, one consistency is apparent. Heidecker is as open and honest as it gets for a live performer, a creative who finds joy on stage, sharing his experiences and thoughts with those standing in attendance. He elicits that constant joy, that pursuit of surreal and talented creativity, throughout his Riverside set. Hearing Heidecker and the gang live in person is a sincerely grand experience and it makes the wait for their Live in Boulder release that much tougher. Still, some of us out there have review copies, and some of us know how good that album is. For everyone else, though, hard cheese. Catch Heidecker live while you still can, it is as unique and fun as it gets.