[caption id="attachment_600" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Nothing about Jeff Tweedy is sexy"][/caption]
Photos courtesy of grtaylor2
I have tried to sit down and write this post a number of times, only to scrap it all and start over. I’m not a music critic and well, I’m intimidated by what I’m reading out there. I’m just a fan. A fan that FLEW over 1300 miles to see one of the (my self-proclamation) most underrated American songwriters perform a solo show without his five other bandmates. Nothing about Jeff Tweedy is sexy until he opens his mouth and sings a few songs -- acoustically. You forget he is short, needs to shave, swears a lot (apparently not when his children are attending a concert though), doesn’t know what to do with his hair and isn’t a sharp dresser. Jeff Tweedy captures your attention for what is really 90 mins. only to make you think it was for 5 mins. He sucks you in and gets into your soul.
A Wilco show and a Jeff Tweedy show are not the same. You can’t compare them. Sure, it’s the same singer/songwriter but Wilco is six energetic men playing their hearts out together onstage and putting on a good show. They don’t need fancy video screens, an elaborate stage – just a lot of guitar changes and a few songs about heartbreak, love and happiness. You stand up, you sing along, you dance a little. As my friend Ethan said “Rock n roll is alive and well with the keepers Wilco.”
At a Jeff Tweedy show you sit down. On the stage appear six acoustic guitars and a microphone. He enters the stage, picks a guitar with a spotlight shining down on just him and he sings as if he’s just singing to you, not 2,000 people. You expect a few things … a lot of witty chatter about what the song is about or a funny experience he’s had recently, a missed lyric or wrong chord and talking back to the crowd as they yell out requests. Our show contained all and even more of those standard standbys.
As with any Wilco show, you can request your favorite song via what Tweedy refers to as “the bureaucracy of Wilco” – their website. I requested “In a Future Age.” For some reason the lyrics “fenced in yards and barking dogs” reminds me of my son and always gives me a tear in my eye. Tweedy didn’t disappoint (I’m 5-0 on requests now) and played my song – and yes, there was a tear. I wonder if he read my reason why and said “I’ll make her day!” Probably not. But I can think that in my head.
[caption id="attachment_602" align="alignleft" width="500" caption="Playing the harmonica during "Sunken Treasure""][/caption]
The show was full of stories. Tweedy was playing the show because his oldest sister lives in Phoenix. He dedicated “Please Tell My Brother” to his sister (a verse of the song is about her). He thought it would be a good idea to play the show to fund his trip until he saw her guest list which he said had to be half of the venue and basically put him in the hole. During “Ruling Class” he joked that the song wasn’t blasphemous, that he’d played it at many Christian colleges only to be told “don’t come back.” He dedicated two songs to his wife who was in the front row with their sons. One concert-goer yelled out something that sounded like “funky” but was the f-word. Tweedy responded “I don’t think I’m funky? Oh you didn’t mean funky? Thanks for dropping the f-bomb in front of my kids.” The biggest surprise was he played a song I would never thought he would play without Wilco – Spiders (Kidsmoke). During the last verse, he forgot the words and swayed around and then asked the audience to help him out. Two fans proudly yelled back the lyrics and he went on like nothing had happened.
During the encore, he unplugged his amp and went to the edge of the stage and sang his heart out without a mic. “This is what it’s going to be like without power someday.”
Yes, this show can not be compared to a Wilco show. You sit down the whole time. You take it in. And you walk out still believing rock and rock is still alive. And this time, the keeper is Jeff Tweedy.
Here is one of my favorite moments of the night – “Hummingbird!”
And you can’t have a show without a “Jesus Etc.” singalong
35 days until Wilco!!!!