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Jeff Tweedy — 31 January 2018, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK (Queen's Hall)

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People often ask me, when I talk to them in person, how a given night's Wilco/Tweedy/Jeff solo show compared to the previous night's or one from earlier in a tour and I'll point out some similarities and differences and offer an opinion. Usually a significant part of that has to do with the venue or the audience, so while setlists might be relatively similar at times from show to show, no two performances are ever completely alike. And that's probably true at solo gigs more than any other.

 

So you might look at the songs played at Jeff's show in Edinburgh — where, remarkably, he hadn't performed since 1993, in the waning days of Uncle Tupelo — compare them to the previous night in Dublin and conclude that the two were pretty much the same. But looking back at it, the setlist only tells part of the story.

 

Consider the venue first of all (which, incidentally, is managed by a VCer). The Queen's Hall is an old chapel that dates back to the early 19th century and was converted to a music venue in 1979. It has a unique, intimate feel to it, on account of the low stage and the blue-colored pews in the back of the main floor and a relatively narrow U-shaped balcony. Jeff even commented on how much he liked it and jokingly mused why he hadn't been invited to play there more often — or at all, which I guess is a subject for another conversation. Anyway, the QH normally holds about 900 but on account of the cabaret table setup, probably had a little less than 700 attendees for Jeff's show.

 

That intimacy was mostly a positive thing, but when it came to audience behaviour, also turned into somewhat of a negative on a few occasions. For instance, just as Jeff was going into the show-closing A Shot in the Arm, an scuffle of some sort broke out near the back of the main floor and a man could loudly be heard yelling something like "you fecking cunt" as he was apparently ejected by security. It was loud enough that Jeff had to pause briefly to make sure things were OK (but he also came up with the perfect quip in the moment: "The evening does feel complete now.") That brouhaha was preceded by an ongoing dispute of sorts between some people in the balcony, where one man could be heard loudly telling another to shut up on several occasions, though I'm not exactly sure why. For those in attendance at Wilco's last show in Glasgow in 2011, these incidents must have seemed a bit déja vu, as I believe that was the show where an outright fight broke out in the balcony during Rising Red Lung.

 

At one point, Jeff even reiterated a bit of banter he has used when playing to relatively small rooms recently, saying that he felt "responsible for all of you (in the audience)" and saying that he was going to try to "play all the songs I think you want to hear." Of course he drily continued on that tack by joking that he wanted people to leave as soon as they heard the song they wanted so he would know when the end of the show was coming.

 

Certainly on Jeff's part there were fewer visits to Banter Corner than the previous evening in Dublin, perhaps owing to a more reserved Edinburgh crowd or a relative lack of familiarity with the audience compared to Dublin. Not that there wasn't some more crowd interaction as the show went on. Jeff was introducing Hesitating Beauty as a song he "really messed up" the previous night when a woman who had been at that show and also on the same plane from Dublin to Edinburgh as the Tweedy entourage yelled out something like, "Yes, you did." It was meant to be in fun, and Jeff took it that way, but he also gave her a little jab back saying that she had gotten her request and should "now shut the fuck up." Ultimately, Jeff ended up cutting Hesitating Beauty entirely, saying that he would probably mess it up again.

 

Jeff actually went on to say that he could say that to the woman because he was a Scot — as in his middle name, which he attributed not to any heritage but to his mother being a terrible speller. Then he told a very funny story about how his wife was really into genealogy and had traced his and discovered that there was a clan of Tweedys. "The shorthand of what (those Tweedys) were known for was 'grumpy fiddlers.'" (pause). "Nailed it." He then asked if anyone in the audience knew any Tweedys and mentioned that when he had once toured with Teenage Fanclub, they had told him about having gone to school with at least a couple of Jeff Tweedys.

 

That was mostly it for the significant chatter, but musically I will just say that it's been fun to hear these new songs Jeff has been playing. He got the crowd going last night by asking it to sing along to the chorus of the tune I'm calling Let's Go Rain, which is "let's go rain/come on rain again," and that went over quite well and seemed perfect in that venue. And also hearing Don't Forget again, which starts off with the couplet "Don't forget you've got a long cosmic key/You're my little galaxy," and goes into a meditation about death, set to a relatively jaunty melody (of course).

 

At the risk of writing too much and completely lose the attention of my already-limited audience, I suppose I'll leave it there for now. I hope some of my many friends who were in attendance might chime in with some of their thoughts, as well as anyone else who was there, because as usual I'm sure there are some things I missed. But for now, it's onward to the final two shows of this little run — may there be more entertaining moments ahead...

 

Here was the complete setlist, as played, at the Queen's Hall:

 

Via Chicago (w/harmonica)

I Am Trying To Break Your Heart

One Wing

New Madrid

Lost Love

You And I

Hummingbird

new song-Don't Forget

Laminated Cat (aka Not For The Season)

Bull Black Nova

Passenger Side

new song-Let's Go Rain

Locator

Born Alone

California Stars

I'm The Man Who Loves You

-----------------------------------------

Kamera

Misunderstood

A Shot in the Arm

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So having seen around 45 Wilco (and Wilco related shows) in 12 countries in 10 years, I'm glad to say that I've witnessed only 2 fights.  Both in my homeland. 

 

However my staff point out to me that the nationality of the gentleman concerned is in dispute.  Purely because we couldn't make out a word he was saying due to his level of intoxication.  We're currently pinning it on 'Russian interference'.

 

It's a strange day of sorts when the guy you've followed around the world to see him work, comes to the place you work.  Working in live events for over 25 years has taught me the old adage 'never meet your heroes' is sometimes true and I had very confused emotions about meeting Jeff, albeit very briefly. 

 

The QH is a very intimate venue and is all the better for that for these type of acoustic based shows.  Seeing Jeff for the first time totally solo is definitely one of the highlights of my time here.  Being able to bring many of my friends together from the US and Europa to share that was even better.

 

Even if I was the dedicated driver for the evening... 

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Even if I was the dedicated driver for the evening...

Alas, orange and soda only! I suppose at least some sacrifices were required...#beerplanfail B)

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Was a great gig, lovely venue and a perfect excuse to finally visit Edinburgh. I offered to sing John’s harmonies on Cali Stars but he said that his bit. I enjoyed that. I also liked seeing Jim as his guitar tech!

 

Thanks Jeff :)

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