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Jeff Tweedy — 30 September 2021, Brooklyn, NY (Brooklyn Made) [Night 1 of 2]


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Parking this thread for now. Will write something after a bit of the shut eye.

 

[Edit: Here goes nothing...

 

As Jeff pointed out pretty early in his much-anticipated solo set that officially christened Brooklyn's newest live music venue, the intimate Brooklyn Made, he hadn't done this in quite some time. And depending on exactly how you define this, you could argue that it had been quite some time indeed.

 

It's true that Jeff has performed solo acoustic as recently as July as part of a larger Tweedy band performance, and even did so a couple of times in 2020 (Cayamo cruise, presumably, and at a Woody Guthrie tribute in New York) before everything got shut down. In the second half of 2019, there were a handful of solo outings (Second City benefit, The Thing festival, Lincoln Center Out Of Doors). But if you define it strictly — headlining solo acoustic show indoors — I think you probably have to go back to May 2019 in Australia to find the last time Jeff was actually on a stage by himself with just a guitar in a club-type venue playing a full set.

 

At any rate, it was well before an entity known as The Tweedy Show was even a glimmer in Susie Tweedy's eye, before thousands of clients had spent more than 200 hours virtually hanging out with and getting to know the Tweedy family, before a random guy got to climb into a bathtub and awkwardly try to avoid playing footsie with a certain singer. More on that later — not the footsie, but just the effect that all of this has had on Jeff's live performances.

 

First, a brief word or two about Brooklyn Made. With a capacity of around 500, we all knew it was probably going to be a pretty intimate space. But I think it was probably even more intimate than I thought it would be since there was no barricade and the stage was pretty low. It's sort of a wide room, wider than it is deep, and there might be some partially obstructed views due to a couple of support columns, but I can't imagine there are too many bad views. Supposedly there is a state-of-the-art sound system as well, with the speakers sort of neatly built into the stage framework, though it probably was somewhat wasted on a performer who wasn't even plugged in. A few songs in, it sort of occurred to me that from a certain vantage point, it might have looked like Jeff was playing on a side dock of a spaceship — albeit a kind of homely one, on account of the white lattice-like backdrop behind him.

 

Jeff emerged a little after 9 p.m., and seemed relaxed and in a mood to play from the start, which is always a good sign for a solo show. He surprised almost everyone, probably, by opening with a cover of Bob Dylan's Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You that he was already dissecting mid-song with commentary about the instrumental section and a certain chord that he may or may not have struggled with. Afterward he warned people coming to both shows that he was planning to play the song again the following night, but "probably better." By the second song of the set, I Am Trying To Break Your Heart, it was clear that the crowd was in full singalong mode — and that would continue at appropriate moments throughout the evening.

 

Actually, for the most part, the crowd was a really good one. Jeff even got choked up early on when he played a quieter song, Save It For Me, and people remained super quiet throughout. Then again, you would have had to be kind of a jerk to be chatty during that one, or any of the quieter numbers really, since you could hear almost every sound in the room. And it didn't take long before someone broke the sincere mood — a lady shouted, "Where's Spencer?" — and Jeff said he wasn't here and asked if she wanted her money back and bid her adieu. He then joked that, "I take back everything I just said."

 

It was the first of several funny back-and-forths with various crowd members. A bit later, another woman yelled out, "The Midwest loves you," and some other stuff and Jeff jokingly asked if she was in a competition with the other lady who had shouted earlier before deftly deflecting her comment with the retort, "I know the Midwest loves me. I'm lovable." Then a few songs later, a loudmouth guy followed up Jeff's sincere comments following Country Disappeared — he acknowledged that he doesn't play that song all that much because it's too depressing and talked about, in part, how he feels like it's everyone's job to be optimistic and help spread that around — by yelling out something about liking or missing Jeff's pajamas, specifying the white ones with little characters on them that he is known to wear on the Tweedy Show. Jeff briefly engaged in a pronunciation debate (pa-JAH-mas vs. pa-JAM-ahs) with him, before simply commenting that we had "a new contender" for Yahoo Of The Night. "Someone else has entered the race," he quipped.

 

I couldn't even begin to recount all of the visits to Banter Corner during this 100-minute performance, but there were also a couple of very funny bits involving imaginary headlines. At one point Jeff was talking about how there were "a lot of real Jeff Tweedy heads" in the audience who were familiar with his solo repertoire and thanking them for that and I think someone shouted something about how we were all stuck at home so we listened to your music and Jeff said he guessed that was one silver lining of the current situation and then joked that, "I can see the headline now: Tweedy Feels Lucky For Pandemic." And in the encore, I forget exactly how it developed but Jeff was talking about the debut of Brooklyn Made and congratulating everyone involved and someone must have said something about how nothing could top this performance, which caused him to go on a hilarious mini-spiel about how "Jeff Tweedy ended live music" and how all the touring bands were called back off the road because there would be no point in continuing to play shows. You probably had to be there, but I found it highly amusing for some reason.

 

To circle back to the effects of the Tweedy Show for just a second, it's interesting to me how the show has changed the relationship with a not-insignificant portion of the audience in the post-pandemic era. Of course there are the visible signs of clienthood, such as IKEA curtain masks and show T-shirts, but it's also the way people relate to and with Jeff now. It's everything from some of the aforementioned comments about Spencer's (or Susie's or Sammy's) whereabouts or the pajamas or whatever, but also things like people yelling out Reincarnation when Jeff was searching for a good song to close the show. For one, I wonder what it would be like to go to a show now if you weren't a client and didn't get some of the inside jokes and whatnot. I also think about people who either expect Jeff's shows to be some variant of the Tweedy Show now or aren't able to separate the feeling of "knowing" Jeff and/or his family after all this time spent virtually hanging out from reality. It will be interesting to see how things develop as time goes on, but it's clear that the show has both attracted new fans as well as intensified people's already-existing relationship with Jeff and his music.

 

Of course, ultimately, this debut Brooklyn Made performance stood on its own merits. For solo shows, anyway, I've usually found that it comes down to whether Jeff is really, truly in a mood to play and tonight he definitely was. He wound up playing about 100 minutes and seemed to really be heartened by the crowd singalongs and just the vibe in the room. He even played a couple of new songs that weren't on his setlist, including the really new one (Say I Love You Again?) that he debuted on the most recent Tweedy Show episode just the other night. For the first night of a two-night stand, especially, you'd be hard pressed to find a much better show.]

 

Here was Jeff's complete setlist, as played (there were a number of changes/additions/omissions from the printed setlist I saw):

 

Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You [Bob Dylan]

I Am Trying To Break Your Heart

Save It For Me

White Wooden Cross

Bombs Above>

Some Birds

Passenger Side

Family Ghost

Country Disappeared

Wait For Love

Cars Can't Escape

Long Time Ago

New Madrid

Dawned On Me

new song-Say I Love You Again

Please Tell My Brother

Even I Can See

What Light

A Robin Or A Wren

Jesus, etc.

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

Let's Go Rain

Opaline

Don't Let Me Down [The Beatles]

Gwendolyn

new song-Story To Tell

A Shot In The Arm

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  • bböp changed the title to Jeff Tweedy — 30 September 2021, Brooklyn, NY (Brooklyn Made) [Night 1 of 2]

A very fun night in a lovely new room. Jeff was engaging and feeding off the crowd response (despite yahoos).  Great set list, great vibe, great playing. Looking forward to tonight w/ son ( can’t miss him 6-5) and his girl. Will be extra special as we haven’t shared a room with Jeff (and the band) since the Beacon a number of years ago. Blessed/ can’t wait!

nice to see ya briefly after show, Paul. Really appreciate your reviews, too!

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I only shouted out once but I’m guilty as charged tough and yelled for reincarnation to be in the mix! The most obnoxious drunk gal was behind me yelling all night about loving Jeff. They always end up yelling right in my ear lol 

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Not much to add to Paul’s excellent review. Jeff’s comments about ending music came on the heels of him congratulating Brooklyn Made on their opening and joking about how it could never get better than these two shows so they were planning to close immediately after tonight’s show. Crowd was lively but respectful. Looking forward to another great performance tonight!

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