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Jeff Tweedy — 4 March 2019, Austin, TX (Paramount Theatre)

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A night after a show in Dallas that was unfortunately marred by a few distractions, it would be easy to make the argument that Jeff returned to his comfort zone by accepting the always-friendly embrace of an Austin audience and turning in a performance that was — dare I say it? — warm. Whether that was due to the audience's relative familiarity with Jeff's catalog or its abundance of Stetsonian headgear is, I suppose, a subject for debate. But undoubtedly, Jeff seemed especially comfortable on stage and even said as much just before his final number.

"This is always one of the best places to play music," Jeff said, by way of thanking the Austin crowd as well as support act Buck Meek. "It means a lot to me. It means a lot to everyone."

Obviously one of the highlights from a fan perspective was the live debut of a track from the forthcoming Warmer record. (Jeff didn't announce its title, but judging from the track list, it was almost certainly the last track on the album, Guaranteed.) I think this will be a favorite track of a lot of people once everyone gets a chance to hear it. To my ears, it's a love song to his wife — perhaps the most direct he's ever written. It starts with these lyrics I jotted down, "We've been through a lot, me and you,hospitals and bars/I know how it hurts, and I'm a piece of work/And you're no walk in the park." And "When things go wrong/our love gets stronger/Nothing can break you and me." Anyway, I won't attempt to describe the song any further, except to say that there's also the phrase, "Tragedy is guaranteed," and the sentiment that things will go wrong but you and I will persevere.

In terms of the setlist, with a couple of other exceptions, Jeff more or less stuck to the general pattern of recent solo shows by featuring a healthy dose of songs from both Warm and Warmer, as well as some old crowd-pleasing favorites. One thing I think is worth noting was that there were some very subtle differences in his guitar playing at times, like at the end of One Sunday Morning when he played a slightly more strummy outro or on I'm The Man Who Loves You when he stopped strumming entirely for a short bit toward the end of the song and basically sang a cappella.

Some of these ultra-subtle variations make me wonder how aware Jeff even is of them, of what he's doing. When he changed the lyric in Misunderstood to "reflecting off your mp3s," of course, he's doing that intentionally. But on Let's Go Rain, he sometimes changes the "let's go rain" part of the chorus to "come on rain" without warning (which can make the crowd singalong somewhat awkward, if anyone is concerned about actually matching what Jeff is singing).

At any rate, singalongs weren't necessarily the forte of this Austin audience (which seemed a bit on the older side and was generally polite and well-behaved), nor was the setlist especially geared toward them — though Jeff did compliment the singing on California Stars as "pretty damn good." And in terms of random things shouted out by the crowd, there wasn't much save for a well-timed "I love you!" during I'm The Man Who Loves You. When Jeff attempted one of his mid-set Q&As, I think one of the few questions was why Jeff wasn't wearing his trademark Stetson hat. I'm not sure if it came from the guy in the front row wearing a Stetson, but nevertheless it led to some of the best banter of the evening.

"Why am I not wearing my hat?" Jeff replied, in a semi-sarcastic tone. "I play these (solo) shows and I look out and there's always four or five of you assholes out there wearing my hat. So fuck you guys. Find another fashion icon." Jeff continued, "I went with an easy-to-find hat," and then mentioned how he used to go to punk shows when he was younger and wonder where the bands got their jackets and boots and stuff — and how he still did. Then in a mocking voice, he said, "'Oh, I'm gonna go to a Jeff Tweedy concert dressed like Jeff Tweedy,'" and shook his head. Maybe you had to be there, but it was very funny.

(For what it's worth, at the start of the encore, Jeff came back on stage and then quickly left again before returning with his Stetson, which drew a hearty cheer. Then of course, he took it off at set it down on his side table before putting it on for the show-closing Acuff-Rose.)

Other visits to Banter Corner included Jeff's comments about how this would be the final show he would have to issue the disclaimer that he was on steroids because he had finished the last of his month-long course of medication for a rash earlier that day. "Just in case it ends up being the greatest show you've ever seen — it won't be," he said. "But just in case, it will have an asterisk next to it (because I've been on) performance-enhancing drugs. It turns out I'm allergic to latex...gloves."

I think that's just about all of the noteworthy developments I can remember from last night, but please chime in if I've forgotten something. I'm sure there were at least a few folks in attendance who also dwell around these parts. For now, though, here was the complete setlist as played:

Via Chicago (w/harmonica)
One Sunday Morning
Bombs Above
Some Birds
I Am Trying To Break Your Heart
Guaranteed (live debut)
New Madrid
Having Been Is No Way To Be
Family Ghost
Impossible Germany
Let's Go Rain
Jesus, etc.
I Know What It's Like
California Stars
Don't Forget
I'm The Man Who Loves You
On and On and On

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Thanks, as always, bböp. I just wanted to add that even though I've heard him/them do ITMWLY perhaps even too many times over the years, I was spellbound by the version last night. He's reached into that song this go around and it was really something to hear (same with IG--and One Sunday Morning, as you mentioned). It was quite the performance. 

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I would like to apologize for my ignorance, but I'm terribly familiar with "Warmer". I know that it's a sister album, but how do you know the track list?

No apologies necessary. Someone posted a leaked track listing in the Warmer thread of the Just A Fan forum, so I was just going by that. Plus Jeff has been playing several songs from Warmer in his shows for a few months now (though, as he said, in Austin, he hadn’t ever played Guaranteed live before).

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