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Jeff Tweedy — 19 July 2021, Charlton, MA (Tree House Brewing Company)


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The third and final show of Jeff's (Long) Weekend In New England tour — apologies to Barry Manilow — was billed as "An Intimate Evening With..." at the lovely flagship location of the cultish Tree House Brewing Company, and it was nothing if not that. Not only was the setting itself intimate, with only a few hundred chairs set up in a makeshift amphitheater just off the side of the brewery's main building, but if you were so inclined, you could have tuned into The Tweedy Show live stream that started at basically the same time as doors opened and (virtually) hung out with Jeff and his bandmates backstage until almost litchurally when they emerged on stage for the show.

 

It must have been a slightly odd sight, since I know there were more than a few Tweedy Show "clients" in attendance, to see a bunch of people sitting there waiting for a concert all watching their phones and pseudo-interacting with the artists who were about to perform. I mean, really, what else could you want? (I suppose, for a lot of the attendees, the answer is beer. But that's another story.)

 

The setting, of course, would feature prominently in Jeff's banter over the course of the show. Almost right away Jeff suggested that this might be the first brewery that he and his band had played. He quickly reconsidered that statement, however, before concluding that "no one's been as nice to us at those other stupid breweries." After a couple of songs, he suggested that the audience just keep drinking and joked that his setlist consisted mostly of "cry-in-your-beer songs." And during the solo portion of his set, Jeff related that he was having a nostalgic moment because of the scent of an "onslaught of hops" in the air. He wondered whether it was because his late father — who was well known for enjoying a brewed adult beverage — smelled like hops, but related that it was probably because growing up in Belleville, Ill., across the Mississippi River from the Anheuser-Busch factory in St. Louis (not to mention the smaller Stag brewery in Belleville itself) meant that the smell was always in the air. Near the end of the set, Jeff joked that he planned to resume drinking when he turned 70 — "I think I can handle it by then," he said — so he hoped that Tree House would have him back to play in about 17 years.

 

Perhaps by then they'll have an actual amphitheater on the premises and be able to accommodate more than the relatively small group of fortunate souls who managed to purchase tickets before they rapidly sold out. Those of us who did get to attend this performance were treated to a similar set of songs, for the most part drawn from his recent solo albums, that Jeff has played in his few live outings over the course of the pandemic. With this three-piece lineup, featuring Spencer Tweedy on drums and backing vocals and Liam Kazar on bass and backing vocals, there are definitely moments when you miss what James Elkington's electric guitar adds to the arrangement of some of these songs but I suppose most of the attendees probably didn't notice since this was probably the first time they were getting to see them played live.

 

Not that Jeff kept the setlist entirely static by any means, however. For this show, he decided to play Remember The Mountain Bed with Spencer and Liam even though their performance of it on the pre-show backstage stream was apparently the first time they had run through it all together. And for the de facto encore — Jeff decided the band wasn't going to do the charade of going off stage and waiting to be called back — they did a personal favorite cover of mine that wasn't on the setlist, Bob Dylan's "John Wesley Harding," with Jeff adding harmonica for the first and only time during the show, then finished up with another pair of songs that didn't get played at either of the shows at Mass MoCA over the weekend, Let's Go Rain and Neil Young's "The Losing End (When You're On). Personally I thought it was kind of weird to end with the latter, but that was apparently always the plan.

 

Another highlight was a completely impromptu performance of Pops Staples' "Friendship," prompted by a shouted request from the audience, with both Liam and Spencer taking over vocal duties because Jeff didn't really remember the verses. Together they cobbled it together and got through most of the song (they might have missed a verse, but who's counting), which drew an extra-appreciative cheer from the crowd. Afterward, Jeff told a brief anecdote about how they had played that song once and he heard someone confuse it with the Chris Stapleton song of the same name.

 

As with both shows at Mass MoCA, Jeff finished up his solo portion of the set and Spencer and Liam re-emerged for a singalong tribute to Biz Markie on the classic "Just A Friend," which wound up serving as a pivot point of sorts for the show since right after that, most of the lights except those illuminating the stage were turned off and that caused sort of a jarring transition where Jeff could see pretty much all of the people in the audience one minute and then just darkness the next. He joked that it was all right because he had already identified the "problem" spots in the crowd. "I know where the chin scratchers are," Jeff quipped.

 

Anyway, for a show at a brewery where at least part of the appeal for attending the performance for many people was likely the opportunity to purchase and drink the exclusive beer produced therein, there were surprisingly few of those aforementioned problems. Chalk it up to it being a Monday night or to classic New England reserve, but from what I could tell there was very little rowdiness. The overall vibe was quite mellow, which was mostly nice.

 

Maybe that's why Jeff didn't feel the need to play Passenger Side, though if we're being honest, that was a missed opportunity. Like, you're gonna play a brewery and not play Passenger Side...really? Oh well, I don't think anyone would complain, but in the spirit of The Tweedy Show, I can't let Jeff off the hook completely. #NoOffense

 

Here was the complete setlist, as played (Doug Sahm's "Give Back The Key To My Heart" was listed as the first song of the encore on the printed setlist, but got cut in favor of John Wesley Harding):

 

Evergreen

Don't Forget

Having Been Is No Way To Be

Opaline

Half-Asleep

Bombs Above>

Some Birds

Guaranteed

Remember The Mountain Bed

I Know What It's Like

I Am Trying To Break Your Heart*

new song- Hints*

New Madrid

new song-Story To Tell*

Jesus, etc.*

Just A Friend [Biz Markie] (fragment)

A Robin Or A Wren

You Are Not Alone

Friendship [Pops Staples]

Guess Again

Love Like A Wire [Diane Izzo]

Family Ghost

Gwendolyn

John Wesley Harding [Bob Dylan]

Let's Go Rain

The Losing End (When You're On) [Neil Young]

 

*—denotes Jeff solo

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  • bböp changed the title to Jeff Tweedy — 19 July 2021, Charlton, MA (Tree House Brewing Company)
1 minute ago, Albert Tatlock said:

 

Christopher-Lee-in-The-Wicker-Man-christ

 

Altogether now, "Let's Go Rain ..."

 


We really are just two people talking to each other in a vacuum, aren’t we? 🤣

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13 minutes ago, Albert Tatlock said:

 

Just you and Chuck Berry. Still looking for this one for your collection?

 

Voyager-records-631.jpg

Is that the Golden Voyager record that went into orbit? If so, yes.*
 

 

*only seeking a test pressing only, though.

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21 minutes ago, bböp said:

Is that the Golden Voyager record that went into orbit? If so, yes.

 

<Interference on channel ...>

trekaliens_borak_2.jpg

 

"You have Barry Manilow to trade earth showpony?"

</Interference on channel ...>

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despite the playing of "Let's Go Rain," thankfully the rain didn't come back, which given this July in New England is a minor miracle.

 

great show, and it was a very smooth event. i think we got there around 6:20ish and there was a sizeable line in front of us, but when we got to the seats it was easy to find prime real estate dead center and about 6-7 rows back. the sound was really good and the entire set up bodes well for future events there. hard to estimate but maybe 300-400 people in total?

 

i didn't end up bringing any camera gear as i'd put in a request to jeff's publicist and never heard back but it was a super low key affair and a fellow photog i hadn't seen since the pandemic was seated right behind me and he just brought his as a GWC (guy with camera) and took a few shots. i should have just tossed my gear into my car but i've shot Jeff a ton of times and it was nice to relax and just watch the show. i also forgot that Warner would be there and could have just squeezed some shots from the soundboard; he does live sound for the band and i met him at the Rolling Stones concert in 2018 and we had a good time hanging out before that show. 

the seating spacing was great too, plenty of room in between rows, and if you wanted to sacrifice a bit of sight line and sound quality for a roomier space, the adirondack chairs up the incline on stage left were a good bet. Paul, good to catch up briefly after the show!

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I have to say, it was a rather poignant experience watching The Tweedy Show on my phone -- my primary source for "live" music for the past year -- just moments before the show came to life before us. It was an emotional experience, for sure. 

 

Just two stray thoughts: 1) I'm digging the new one, Story to Tell, which is a real doozy: "I've been through hell / on my way to hell / I only fought with myself / so I'd have a story to tell" and 2) I'm much too lazy to substantiate this claim with actual research, but a reaction I had after the show is that the set was largely comprised of (original) songs written in the last ~5 years? That is, I'm a bit surprised that of these most recent Tweedy Band(ish) shows, Jeff's not leaned heavier on older material. 

 

Anyway, great review, as always, Paul.  

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3 hours ago, knotgreen said:

 

Just two stray thoughts: 1) I'm digging the new one, Story to Tell, which is a real doozy: "I've been through hell / on my way to hell / I only fought with myself / so I'd have a story to tell" 

 

Anyway, great review, as always, Paul.  

Yes! That song really came to life in the Hunter Center. It seemed to quiet the entire crowd & hold their attention. The lyrics are fantastic. It has that vibe of being an album closer.

Yep, another great review, Paul. 

 

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15 hours ago, knotgreen said:

Anyway, great review, as always, Paul.  

 

12 hours ago, u2roolz said:

Yep, another great review, Paul. 


Thanks, guys. I know my readership has dwindled to probably tens of people but they’re quality people! 

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