Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Jeff Tweedy delighted his fans last night at the Uptown

Posted By on Wed, Dec 4, 2013 at 12:22 PM

While a horde of semi-trucks were required to bring in the massive stage and sound construction for Kanye West and his giant performance at the Sprint Center last night, Jeff Tweedy took the opposite route and kept it simple, bringing only himself and two acoustic guitars to the Uptown.

Of the many shows I've been to at the Uptown theater, this was the first I'd walked into and seen chairs in what typically is the GA area. It felt strange, but in this case it was appropriate - the show was quiet, and the reverent audience was content to sit and soak up the gimmick-free Tweedy-ness.

Tweedy performed in the center of the stage, clad in all black, with no special stage lights, nothing between him as the performer and the audience. For fans (and this was a show best enjoyed by true fans), it was an opportunity for a highly intimate experience with a favorite artist. And it was impressive for this casual Wilco fan - it takes courage and experience to be able to perform so nakedly and openly in front of an audience that knows this material so very well, and one so focused on the individual. It's one thing to perform solo in a small bar - another thing entirely to have thousands of eyes staring at you for 90+ minutes.

And while the performance itself was a pretty serious matter, Tweedy lightened up the breaks coolly joking with the audience. One overeager fan from the front row quickly became the go-to for Tweedy's jokes: "Your clapping... it sounds like a shoe in a dryer." When that same fan piped in too many song requests, he added, "I don't wanna piss you off, but I don't wanna make you happy... I am an ungrateful motherfucker. Kanye wouldn't be here right now."

Whether he intended to or not, Tweedy did end up making a lot of people happy, playing material spanning his career, from Uncle Tupelo to Golden Smog (a supergroup of sorts featuring members of the Replacements, the Jayhawks and Big Star, among others), Loose Fur, and of course, Wilco. Highlights included the affecting "Radio Cure", from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, which was made more intimate with the bare-bones nature of the show, and "California Stars", spawned from a collaboration between Wilco and Billy Bragg.

The show lacked the energy and volume of one with a full band, but the mark of a great performance is one that gets you to consider the music in a new light, and experience it with new ears. Tweedy did that for his fans last night, and they responded with a standing ovation. Pretty nice way to start out your tour.

Setlist:
Solitaire
I Am Trying To Break Your Heart
Remember The Mountain Bed
Sunken Treasure
Long Time Ago (Golden Smog)
Passenger Side
Dawned On Me
Radio Cure
Chinese Apple (Loose Fur)
Kamera
One True Vine
Ruling Class (Loose Fur)
You And I
Bob Dylan's 49th Beard
Jesus Etc.
Born Alone
Not For The Season

Encore:
New Madrid (Uncle Tupelo)
California Stars
The Thanks I Get
Shot In The Arm
Acuff Rose (Uncle Tupelo)

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