There is something inherently Midwest about Jeff Tweedy. From his humble upbringings in small town Illinois, to a father who work hard for a railroad company and because of that was often distant. To his ability to capture a spectrum of emotions in his songwriting, that is so relatable to his audience and yet so uniquely personal to himself.
Last winter Tweedy came out with his first solo studio albumWarm full of original songs that paired with a memoir, Let’s Go (So we can get back). The book and album were intimate in a way that many musicians of his stature don’t reveal, and his show Wednesday night may have been one of Tweedy’s most unique and personal shows he’s ever played.
Wednesday night, the Wilco front man played to a crowd of what seemed to be longtime fans of his. Fans from the Uncle Tupelo days, to diehards of Wilco, and those who may even have been fans of his family band Tweedy.
The setting up of the venue was interesting, it almost felt like you were at an awards ceremony or a wedding. Warm colors of lighting from the stage, all the seats were leveled and what you’d more often see at a banquet hall, and the stage was small, just big enough for Tweedy and guitar really.
Tweedy, noticed this unique set up and had fun with it. Opening with ‘Bombs Above,’ and the single ‘Some Birds’ off of his new solo album, a catchy tune where Tweedy really reveals some of his humble Midwest vibes through humor and sadness.
Tweedy, began to address the crowd by looking around and saying “I’d like to congratulate the bride and groom.” A quick joke that earned quite a few laughs but this joke would go on throughout the show. Between each song calling back to the wedding aesthetic.
Even, giving the bride and groom names like, Chuck and Darla and diving into songs with jokes like, “They seem like a lovely couple, in the meantime I’m gonna serenade them with some songs about the fragility of the human existence.” That line lead into a Wilco classic, 'I Am Trying to Break Your Heart.'
The set list continued to surprise with not only songs from the solo record, but playing a slew of Wilco hits, to deep cuts for longtime fans, to even at some points taking requests from fans. Whether it was planned or not Tweedy played ‘California Stars’ for a woman up front who was requesting the tune.
This would lead to other fans from the audience shouting out requests for their favorite songs by the songwriter. At times it did become a bit much it seemed like for Tweedy but to his credit he was engaging with the crowd, even taking questions from some fans. You could tell he appreciated that each fan wasn’t yelling out to be obnoxious, but each fan had a special connection to that song they were shouting out.
Tweedy at one point saying, “you guys are terrible at picking wedding songs, all of these songs are so sad,” the crowd again laughs, “Let’s Go Rain!” shouts a man from the back. Tweedy then nods and says, “There’s a good one,” he begins to play the tune from Warm, a song that does have a chorus that you could see being a drunken bar song. Where you have your arm around a friend and a pitcher of beer in the other hand, drunkenly swaying back in fourth shouting the lyrics to the chorus, “Let’s go Rain.”
With, a cover of ‘Plateau,’ by the Meat Puppets, playing a handful of ‘Yankee Hotel Foxtrot,’ and even throwing in an Uncle Tupelo tune, ‘New Madrid,’ fans saw a side of Tweedy that they most certainly won’t see again for a very long time.
A show like this feels like it comes once in a blue moon, where you’re so close and personal with someone so adored by so many, all you can do is appreciate it. Finishing with a song that maybe was fitting for a wedding, ‘I’m the Man Who Loves.’ Tweedy garnered a standing ovation from the crowd and came back out with two more songs finishing with ‘A Shot in the Arm,’ off of Wilco’s fourth album ‘Summerteeth,’ and ‘Don’t Forget.’
For fans of Tweedy, this was the closest thing they would’ve have gotten to a ‘Tweedy on Broadway,’ it was personal, funny, at times sad, and truly just a beautiful performance by an incredible storyteller and songwriter.