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Jeff and Spencer Tweedy — 27 June 2021, Galien, MI (The Storehouse)


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Not sure whether this little recap is kosher, since this benefit show was technically sort of semi-secret, but since there was a professional-looking photographer walking around and people were taking photos and videos with their phones that will probably wind up on social media, I guess I'm going to assume the hosts won't mind a little bit of commentary after the fact...:ninja

 

Basically through a series of happy coincidences and helpful people, I got lucky to be able to attend this lovely Sunday afternoon concert by Jeff and Spencer that raised money for a local radio station in southwestern Michigan. The show actually was supposed to take place the previous evening, but had to be postponed by a day because of the torrential rain that deluged this part of the country. Just how that change might have affected things, I suppose we'll never know. But in general, the setting — the "stage" Jeff and Spencer played on was literally the front porch of someone's home and people sat in their own chairs or blankets that were loosely arranged according to where there was shade (i.e. not right up against the “stage”) — seemed perfect for a languid summer afternoon.

 

Not that Jeff and Spencer, who haven't played all that many live shows strictly as a duo, lacked energy. Though their set was — ahem — fairly low key, they nonetheless turned in a nice 80-minute set of material from across Jeff's career and even performed a couple of new songs (only played once or twice previously on the Tweedy Show). Those were obviously a highlight, as far as I'm concerned, as was getting to hear Spencer's backing vocals on a number of tunes.

 

Hints, which was the working title given when the song was performed on the Tweedy Show episode in early March featuring John Stirratt and Glenn Kotche, seems like a good candidate to be on the next Wilco record. It's the one that has the chorus that goes, "There is no middle when the other side/Would rather die than compromise/Adjust your eyes to the light/Let them roll with pride..." Although it seems almost folkish on the surface, I could see it almost taking on a War On War-type urgency in the live setting when the rest of the band's contributions are factored in.

 

Though I wound up sitting a little bit further back than I would have preferred, opting to stay within the shade of a tree and not fry in the sun (stupidly, I forgot to bring a hat...rookie move), Jeff looked to be in relatively good shape and ready to get back on the road. At least from my vantage point. And his banter was certainly getting back to being show worthy, if not there already.

 

Early on, Jeff announced his intention to play mostly songs from the last few records he has put out under his own name (as well as "Tweedy," which he acknowledged was kind of an awkward band name but left open the possibility of another record under than moniker someday.) He said he doesn't get to play them live as often as he would like, so that's what he planned to do. "You're sick of Wilco," he said to the crowd of about 60. "Plus, it's a benefit so it doesn't have to be good. You'd be kind of a jerk if you complain. I kind of like playing benefits for that reason." Later, he looked down at the group of potted plants at his feet and labelled them "my fanclub." Quipped Jeff: "It's the best audience I've ever played to, hands down."

 

After playing the relatively sedate Having Been Is No Way To Be, Jeff joked about the juxtaposition of that song with the Frisbee being thrown around on the lawn before the show. "I saw a frisbee out here earlier and that's exactly the kind of song I think of when I think of frisbee," Jeff said. "Frisbee Proximity, that's my new album." :lol

 

Jeff also clearly was relishing getting to perform with Spencer, telling the audience how he never had to persuade his son to play along with him, that it was just something that Spencer did naturally from the time he was little. And then one day, in Jeff's words, he looked over and they were on stage together. He mentioned that his younger son Sammy had started singing with the Tweedy band as well, leading Jeff to joke to the audience members that if they didn't have kids yet, that was as good a reason as any to do so, to essentially "grow your own band." (Though, to be honest, I think Jeff's better half might argue that she was the one who litchurally grew them inside her body. But I digress.) At any rate, Jeff then looked over at Spencer and deadpanned, "Not you. Not yet." B)

 

It wasn't a perfect show, in the end, as Jeff flubbed the opening lyric to You Are Not Alone, which might have been an unplanned number, and then decided to end the show there on a slightly awkward note, as he acknowledged. But for all the enjoyment he and Spencer had already given this small gathering on a pleasant summer afternoon out in the country, you would indeed have been a jerk to complain.

 

Here was the complete setlist, as played (all songs with Jeff on acoustic guitar and vocals and Spencer on drums and backing vocals):

 

Guess Again

Bombs Above>

Some Birds

New Moon

Family Ghost

Low Key

new song-Please Be Wrong

new song-Hints

Don't Forget

Opaline

Having Been Is No Way To Be

Gwendolyn

Evergreen

New Madrid

Don't Let Me Down [The Beatles]

Love Like A Wire [Diane Izzo]

You And I

Let's Go Rain

You Are Not Alone

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43 minutes ago, bböp said:

 

I think maybe those days are over, if they ever were, but maybe not these? :hyper

 

 

Funnily enough I heard that on the radio when driving back from Scotland yesterday. (Johnny Walker's Sound of the 70s show - which is a bizarre mixture spanning prog to punk)

 

Maybe we can agree on a compromise with Wilco supported with a 'clients' choir.

 

 

 

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6 minutes ago, Albert Tatlock said:

 

Funnily enough I heard that on the radio when driving back from Scotland yesterday. (Johnny Walker's Sound of the 70s show - which is a bizarre mixture spanning prog to punk)

 

Maybe we can agree on a compromise with Wilco supported with a 'clients' choir.

 

 

 

Oh, Mike Curb. I see those records all the time! Eh, let's not and say we did? :lol

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5 minutes ago, bböp said:

 

Oh, Mike Curb. I see those records all the time! Eh, let's not and say we did? :lol

 

Different group, same song (I think). The Congregation were from the UK, predictably called "The English Congregation" in the US to avoid confusion with the lot you mentioned. I stress that I did not know that off the top of my head. Also, "The English Beat" brings me out in a rash. They are THE BEAT.

 

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6 minutes ago, Albert Tatlock said:

 

Different group, same song (I think). The Congregation were from the UK, predictably called "The English Congregation" in the US to avoid confusion with the lot you mentioned. I stress that I did not know that off the top of my head. Also, "The English Beat" brings me out in a rash. They are THE BEAT.

 

 

Funny, if true — and I know you knew that straight off! Can't fathom why two separate groups called (nearly) the same thing would record the same song...too many hallucinogens, perhaps. :brow

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The UK band apparently contained the original writers of the song who had a more clean cut Peter and Gordon/no guitar solo style hit with it in the 60s, and they wrote the theme for the famous coke ad  "I'd like to teach the world to sing" amongst other things - one of which I knew below. Also one of them was in Blue Mink. So that's one piece of useful knowledge that's come out of today.

 

 

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3 hours ago, Albert Tatlock said:

The UK band apparently contained the original writers of the song who had a more clean cut Peter and Gordon/no guitar solo style hit with it in the 60s, and they wrote the theme for the famous coke ad  "I'd like to teach the world to sing" amongst other things - one of which I knew below. Also one of them was in Blue Mink. So that's one piece of useful knowledge that's come out of today.

 

 


Now this isn’t the sort of discussion I expected when I started this thread! 

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Wonderful review as always, Paul. You have a gift for telling the smaller, important details that allow a person to mentally step inside the story. It sounded like a perfect summer afternoon. :bee

 

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