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Jeff Tweedy — 14 April 2019, Chattanooga, TN (Walker Theatre)

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It seems almost ridiculously long ago now, even though it has only been about six weeks, that Jeff started off this solo acoustic tour in support of Warm with jokes about having a rash and how his performances should have an asterisk next to them because he was on steroids. Now as the U.S. leg of the tour wraps up this week and Jeff's new solo record Warmer is finally out, I guess it's probably fitting (though I'm sure not pleasant) that Jeff would suffer another physical ailment that requires another course of medication. "What drugs did you take? And why don't you start taking them again?" indeed...


To be fair, as Jeff noted, the Zofran that he was taking to combat the effects of food poisoning is non-narcotic and only "makes you not able to be funny on stage apparently." But the nausea/vomiting/etc., that he had suffered over the previous day or two definitely cast a little bit of a cloud over this show in Chattanooga. Still, I was thinking that it's pretty amazing the amount of health issues I've seen Jeff have to contend with over the years, whether it's been severe migraines or voice issues or the common cold, and nonetheless be able to deliver at minimum a professional show. He's almost never had to cancel a gig strictly because of illness, which is pretty amazing given all the touring that he has done over the years.


At his usual first check-in point before I Am Trying To Break Your Heart, when someone in the audience inevitably asked how he was doing, Jeff eschewed his "reverse David Lee Roth" line and admitted he was "feeling pretty terrible." (He was still able to joke around, though, when the ubiquitous "woman who wants to have a running conversation with the performer" character made an appearance and shouted, "Welcome to the world!" "Welcome to the world?" Jeff quipped. "I thought I was in Chattanooga.") He then went onto tell us about how he was just getting over the aforementioned food poisoning and started to offer some more grisly details before thinking better of it. "I'll tell you more when we get to know each other better," Jeff said. "I'm wearing my tightest underwear, I'll tell you that. And my loosest pants."


A few songs later, someone in the audience gave Jeff another golden opportunity to head over to Banter Corner when he yelled out after Having Been Is No Way To Be, "Food poisoning ain't shit." "That's right," Jeff said, "I'm kicking food poisoning's ass right now. I could've cancelled the show, but I thought to myself, 'People aren't gonna bum themselves out.' I'm the Johnny Appleseed of sad — Johnny Applesad."


One thing that obviously gave Jeff a lift was having the chance to bring VCer, longtime fan and Chattanooga resident SarahC on stage to sing with him on You And I. I won't spend too much time describing this since I think there's already a thread in another area of this forum devoted to it (and perhaps Sarah will chime in here as well), but Jeff introduced her as "a good friend of mine" who has been coming to see him and Wilco since she was a teenager. After the song, Jeff hugged and thanked her, said it was beautiful and joked that it might very well be the end of the show because he didn't know how he was going to follow it up.


Eventually, however, the show did go on. The song Jeff chose to continue on with was the first of the night from Warmer, which he noted had just come out the previous day. Though he introduced it the way he has been doing, noting the change of lyric in the first verse that his wife hates, he also took a moment to comment on how they had pressed 5,000 copies for Record Store Day because they thought it would be nice for people to actually go out to an independent record store and buy a record, but then "everybody complained (about not being able to get a copy)," Jeff said. "Oh, I'm so sorry we conservatively estimated how many people would buy our record. ... Didn't you hear that nobody buys records anymore?" Then he conceded what those who didn't manage to track down a copy this weekend surely were hoping to hear — that Warmer will be available more widely eventually, likely packaged with Warm. The exact quote from Jeff: "Warm and Warmer belong together, and they'll probably be out together at some point."


Toward the end of his main set, Jeff also thanked the audience for letting him share so many of the songs from Warm and Warmer and said something that I think most of us who have been following closely already knew but that I haven't really heard him say much during shows, which is that "almost all the songs (from Warm and Warmer) are about my dad and my family and the people I love so much." It's interesting that this latest batch of songs has seemed to resonate with so many people because I think they are definitely Jeff's most direct and personal collection of tunes to date.


For the second half of the show, even though he looked like he might be fading a tiny bit (and I started to wonder at one point if he has ever come close to fainting on stage), Jeff still managed to have some fun with the audience — and some fun banter, including:

*A comment about how he didn't think he had been back to Chattanooga since the Uncle Tupelo days since he thought Wilco hadn't ever played here. When he was informed that the band actually had, he quickly shifted gears and, in an exaggerated showman voice, Jeff said, "Well, it's nice to be back in Chattanooga!"

*A response to someone in the crowd shouting, in a sort-of smartass tone, "Setlist!" when it seemed like he didn't know what song he was going to play next. Jeff picked up a piece of paper from his side table, which isn't really a setlist but had all sorts of scrawls and arrows on it, showed it to the audience and quipped, "This looks more like a crime scene investigation sheet, like I'm tracking down a serial killer."

*A reference to (and sort-of impression of) his dad before Let's Go Rain when he raised the notion of some of the "Sunday questions" that the song raised and how it might offend some in the audience. "'Well, it was a pretty good show until he talked out of turn,'" Jeff said in a gruff voice, then clarified, "That was my dad, not you."

*A brief comparison between Chattanooga and Jeff's own hometown when Jeff mentioned how he thought the former was a lot like Belleville, Ill., in many ways. (Belleville) wasn't as hilly, but Jeff said he would rather have grown up in Chattanooga — and then left it — which drew some chuckles from the audience.

*A mid-song aside during Let's Go Rain to ask, "Did you guys see that (Pink Floyd tribute band) Brit Floyd is coming?"


Before he finished up his main set with the usual I'm The Man Who Loves You, Jeff made one final Zofran joke about how the drug was wearing off. He said he had sung a few songs in the back half of the show "with puke in the back of my throat. That's something to keep in your scrapbook, with your ticket stub." When he walked off stage, the house lights oddly went up and I thought maybe he was going to call it a night at that point (which would have been perfectly understandable).


But true to his professionalism, Jeff didn't leave the relatively small but enthusiastic crowd hanging. He re-emerged with one of his Kel Kroydon guitars in hand and delivered a couple more crowd-pleasers before taking his final leave. With just three more shows left on this extra-long solo run, I hope that he'll be able to recover quickly and end it on a relatively healthy — and drug-free — note.


Here was the complete setlist, as played, in Chattanooga:


Via Chicago (w/harmonica)

Remember The Mountain Bed

Bombs Above

Some Birds

I Am Trying To Break Your Heart

New Madrid

Having Been Is No Way To Be


You And I (w/SarahC on vocals)


Family Ghost

Ashes Of American Flags

Heavy Metal Drummer

I Know What It's Like

Jesus, etc.


Passenger Side

You Are Not Alone (w/harmonica)

Don't Forget

Let's Go Rain
I'm The Man Who Loves You




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But it is a superior kind of drivel. Way past gibberish - more into claptrap territory really.


Also, if you changed your screen name to 'harmonica' then you get to appear with Jeff every night too!


I should have thought of that! Henceforth, call me blues harp — harp for short... :wave

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I thought Jeff did a great job last night given the circumstances. I was sad he wasn’t feeling 100%, but really glad he felt well enough to play. Food poisoning is awful. Hopefully the day off today will give him a chance to really rest.


The show was only the 2nd time Jeff’s been through Chattanooga I think. The first was in 1999 at the now-defunct club The Bay (I was 11 then, and a year out from discovering Wilco, so I missed it!) so it was pretty thrilling when this show got announced back in January. The Walker Theatre is a fairly recent renovation in the Memorial Auditorium complex. I think they’ve only been hosting shows for maybe 2 years? It’s only the 2nd time I’ve been there...


I was really happy to hear “Ashes Of American Flags”, and of course all the tunes from Warm and Warmer that have been staples on the tour. “Evergreen” is gorgeous. I can’t wait to actually hear the album versions.


Jeff has always been so nice to me. I can’t really say much else other than I’m kinda shocked he thinks as highly of me as I do of him, and it’s so special. It was really amazing to be able to sing last night. I was a little nervous because a theatre of 800 is nothing to sneeze at, but I thought we did well. I hope that I did the song justice, and I hope that it might help Jeff forget about how much it stinks to play when you don’t feel well.


Maybe having a solo tour stop bodes well for the routing of future wilco tours? A gal can dream.


The thing he said about wearing his tightest underpants but loosest pants made me cackle. I was pleasantly surprised nobody acted ridiculous and the heckling was rather sparse... where I was sitting the sing along parts were pretty good too. Chattanooga crowds tend to socialize more than listen sometimes, so I was thrilled the majority of folks there had their listening ears on.


On a personal note, I was able to gift Jeff and the crew some artwork made by some of the aquarium animals here, and that was really special. Everybody seemed really tickled about it, and it was nice to be able to give them all something to remember Chattanooga. I hope they’ll come back one day (also it was very odd not to have to drive 2+ hours after the gig).


Here’s video of our duet, in case anybody missed the post I made and cares to listen.



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