Jump to content

Jeff Tweedy — 19 January 2022, Riviera Maya, Mexico (Hard Rock Hotel) [Sky Blue Sky Festival; Day 3 of 4]

Recommended Posts

(Parking this thread temporarily whilst I try to overcome festival fatigue...)


I'll admit, it's personally been a slightly stressful few weeks leading up to Sky Blue Sky 2022 in terms of trying to figure out whether the festival was still going to take place, whether or not to make the trip, taking precautions to avoid a positive test and so forth. When the event's status was cloudy and then some previously announced acts began to drop off the bill, I thought surely that 82-year-old Mavis Staples wouldn't trek down to Mexico this time. Why take the risk? But as the proceedings got under way this week, there were the pictures of Mavis arriving at the Hard Rock Hotel on social media, then there she was in the flesh watching Ohmme's set and later making a triumphant appearance to close out Wilco's set.


While it wasn't necessarily certain that Mavis would perform with Wilco, if she indeed made it to Sky Blue Sky, the one virtual lock for a Mavis guest appearance figured to be Jeff's "solo" set on the third day of the festival. Since Jeff's solo band has now grown to include both of his sons — Mavis' declared "grandchildren" — you knew that she wouldn't miss a chance to sing with all of the Tweedys (minus Susie, who was busy with cinnamontoastography) if at all possible. So the only question became what song(s) they might do together.


More than a few people correctly predicted it would be the Pops Staples tune Friendship, from the Don't Lose This album that Jeff helped to complete using some old recordings made before the Staples family patriarch passed away in 2000. It took nearly 90 minutes and all of the band's set, but finally at the end of a lovely afternoon on the Heaven Beach stage (which is situated on a small beach and lagoon), Mavis emerged and began to sing. The beauty of Friendship — the song and the thing in general, I guess — is that there is room for multiple voices to be heard in their individual glory but also as part of a greater whole. So it was that backing singers Sima Cunningham and Sammy Tweedy each took a verse of the song, in a very Weight-ian fashion, before Mavis returned to help bring it home.


It wasn't the only time in the set that Sammy got a spotlight moment, having taken the lead vocal on Neil Young's Helpless a few songs earlier. He has sung it a few times on the Tweedy Show and as recently as a few weeks ago at one of the Tweedy band's shows at Metro in Chicago, but this one was no doubt special in its own way, given the setting and occasion and the people looking on.


As for the rest of the show, the setlist was very similar to the band's aforementioned recent peformances at Metro — although it was a fair bit different from the Tweedy band set at the first SBS on account of the Love Is The King record that Jeff has put out during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. All but one of the LITK songs were played today, giving probably a lot of folks their first chance to hear them live. With more of Jeff's own material to play now, what this SBS audience got was a little less of this time around were the twangy covers that often concluded their pre-pandemic sets.


Of course that hardly seemed to bother the people watching from the beach cabanas or with their lower halves in the water or while floating on inner tubes in the lagoon. If we're being honest, it was a pretty ridiculous setting for some of Jeff's more serious songs about love or death or addiction. For instance, prior to the delicate Even I Can See (which was played by just Jeff and James Elkington), Jeff couldn't help but mention it. "I love the absurdity of playing this song looking out at you in your inner tubes," he said. "If someone strolled up onto a beach and sang what I'm about to sing and you didn't know who they were, you would call someone to come help them."


And of course I would be remiss if I didn't mention by far the most awkward/amazing crowd interaction of this particular show, which happened after Helpless when Jeff noticed a woman near the front of the stage and asked seemingly out of the blue, "Did I use to drive you to school?" He knew her name immediately and announced it to the bemused audience, joking that "it's nice to know I still have a few brain cells that are still kicking, putting up a fight," before agreeing to a midshow photo with her (though it was just her turning around with her back to the stage and him crouching down a bit from where he was standing) and briefly recounting the circumstances of how he came to give her rides back in his hometown of Belleville, Ill.


At any rate, between that encounter and a small flock of geese (I think?) that executed a couple of attention-getting flyovers during the show, I suppose you can sort of guess how the show went. Seriously, though, it just seemed like Jeff and the — no pun intended — gaggle of friends and sons and colleagues he has assembled to present this music is so enjoying every opportunity they get to perform together. It's very sweet. And when you add a living legend like Mavis into the mix, well, then things probably get even more fun, whether you're on stage or floating in the ocean.


Here was the complete setlist, as played (Tweedy band members James Elkington, Liam Kazar, Spencer Tweedy, Sima Cunningham, Macie Stewart and Sammy Tweedy played on all songs, unless noted; the only change from the printed setlist was Family Ghost and Guess Again being flip-flopped):


Bad Day Lately (no Sammy)

Love Is The King (no Sammy)

A Robin Or A Wren


High As Hello

Having Been Is No Way To Be (no Sammy)

Gwendolyn (no Sammy)



Don't Forget

Even I Can See (Jeff and James Elkington only)

Save It For Me

I Know What It's Like

Low Key

Some Birds

The Red Brick>

Warm (When The Sun Has Died)

Helpless [Neil Young] (with Sammy Tweedy on lead vocals)

Family Ghost

Guess Again

Let's Go Rain

Friendship [Pops Staples] (with Mavis Staples on lead vocals)

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...