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Jeff Tweedy — 5 January 2023, Los Angeles, CA (Largo at the Coronet Theatre) [Night 1 of 4]

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For as long as some of us had waited and hoped for the Jeff Tweedy and Largo universes to collide (and for that collision to produce, if not sparks, then at least a strong mutual admiration), it's important not to take what has seemingly become an annual ritual for granted. Sure, now that Jeff has been playing multi-night solo runs at the beloved West Hollywood venue for a decade, there's less speculation about the format of the shows or wonder at simply seeing him perform on a stage shared by so many musical and comedic legends.


And though there's always a danger with more than a few performances of one blending indistinctly into the next, it's a testament to both Jeff and Largo that each night still leaves room for a special blend of surprise, sincerity, snark and songcraft. Certainly tonight, on the first night of this year's four-night run, we got all of that in spades.


Following an unannounced and rather graphic opening set by comedian Margaret Cho that featured a story about anal sex and the need to clean one's, ahem, rectal opening, Jeff set the tone for his 85-minute show by walking on stage and announcing that he "would've been out sooner, but I needed to wash out my asshole." The first of many well-played comedic segues over the course of the evening. Another came five songs in when Jeff's guitar tech came out for the first time to hand Jeff a different guitar. The tech, Cash, wore a dark knit hat, dark shirt and dark jeans very reminiscent of Jeff's outfit, a fact which the latter could not let go uncommented upon. "I make everyone who works for me dress like me," Jeff quipped, making Cash come back out for a side-by-side comparison as the crowd cheered. "Some people think it's a power trip. I just think he looks nice."


As the show progressed, Jeff had minor flubs with a couple of songs and discussed them as only he can. For instance, after he seemed to stumble on a lyric in New Madrid, he paused briefly and did a few comical lunges as if he needed to stretch out more and then explained that what really happened was he had started to think mid-song about how he had been playing the song on banjo earlier — "because that's something I know how to do now" — and that he started to wonder why he wasn't playing it on banjo during the show, which is something new that people might want to see instead of seeing him play it on acoustic guitar for the five millionth time and that ultimately led to his flub. Jeff suggested that he might indeed perform the song on banjo at some point later in the run.


Of course then came, almost certainly, the musical highlights of the show — but not before a bit more amusing banter. Jeff had put on his harmonica rack, which always draws a few murmurs from the audience and often that leads Jeff to discuss how "stupid" harmonicas are, his belief that anyone in the crowd could play one and that he always feels a bit embarrassed for getting a big cheer when he blows, like, two or three notes. He said he was knocking everyone from himself to Bob Dylan and Neil Young, and someone in the audience mentioned the name of Blues Traveler frontman and harmonica player John Popper. That got Jeff onto a tangent, during which he shared how he had toured with Popper during the late 1990s on the H.O.R.D.E. Festival tour, and how he had developed "one of my steadfast axioms: If you can play Flight of the Bumblebee on any instrument, you should stop." Apparently Jeff got sick of hearing Popper play the Rimsky-Korsakov composition every night during the tour and also shared how Popper had apparently skipped him while handing out cigars to other performers as post-tour gifts. That got Jeff even further down the rabbit hole of saying cigars were bad for you anyway and, like Flight of the Bumblebee, if you smoke them, you should just stop. (He also took a similar shot at golf, haha.)


"I'm sorry, now I'm in a mood," Jeff told the audience. "I fucked up a song and now I'm taking it out on you."


But he more than made up for it, first with a lovely performance of Many Worlds augmented by the aforementioned harmonica around his neck (after a very brief back-and-forth with a front-row nerd, Jeff confirmed that it was the first time he had performed that song by himself). Then he switched to a 12-string guitar and followed up Many Worlds with another Cruel Country deep cut, Country Song Upside Down, and then the crowd-pleasing Pot Kettle Black. The latter, Jeff admitted, was "gonna be hard," but he performed it without a hitch, and I have to say that the 12-string really sounded great within the intimate Largo confines. (Jeff, of course, had to subsequently, and jokingly, chide the crowd for being so "typical" and liking the song off Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and then noted how weird it is that a 20-year-old album is nominated for a Grammy for best historical recording, which made it sound like "it's a wire recording of Carl Sandburg.")


Then, once again, the show shifted gears as Jeff got into his most earnest mode and shared something that I can't remember hearing him say before, which is that he really wanted people to think of some of his newer and quieter songs as being played by himself on a piano. He admitted that he couldn't play the piano very well at all, but that was the effect he was trying to get across on a very gently played guitar. He said this by way of an introduction for a new song that I don't believe he's played before (or at least that I don't remember hearing) that apparently is called "Having A Hard Time," and whose chorus seems to hint at a continuing struggle with mental health: "I'm fine/I'm having a good time/I'm lying/I'm having a hard time, too/It's nothing new." Jeff sang it in almost a falsetto voice, and it really packs an emotional punch (which, naturally, Jeff had to joke about afterward, snapping his fingers sarcastically while saying, "That's a happy little song. I'm gonna pep it up; whistle that on your way home.")


Almost certainly I'm missing some additional visits to Banter Corner or other noteworthy moments — there was, for example, one very well-executed dig at the ongoing circus that is the U.S. House of Representatives — but hopefully I've hit the highlights. Suffice it to say there was a lot of music and chat packed into a relatively short amount of time, and if tonight is an indication of how the rest of this year's Largo run will go, then I'm excited to see what the next three nights have in store.


Here was the complete setlist, as played, for Night 1 at Largo (2023 edition):


I Am My Mother

Cruel Country

The Universe

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


Little Lies [Fleetwood Mac]

Tired Of Taking It Out On You

Dawned On Me

New Madrid

Many Worlds (w/harmonica)

Country Song Upside Down

Pot Kettle Black

Don't Forget

You Are Not Alone

new song-Having A Hard Time


I'm The Man Who Loves You


One True Vine

Laminated Cat (aka Not For The Season)

Passenger Side

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Great write up, as usual. Next best thing to being there. Fascinating to hear about the new song, both lyrically and the way he sang it. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that he shares it on Starship Casual at some point, but there’s nothing like hearing it for the first time in a setting like Largo. 


Keep ‘em coming!

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Perfect write up and always remind me of little things I would have forgotten. One other little remark I thought was funny was after each cover he said something like yeah I just wrote that" and after his lyrical flub interlude during New Madrid he then quipped "yeah I didn't write that one" as if the legitimate excuse for messing it up. In addition to how special it is to see Jeff in really the smallest/most intimate setting on his touring schedule,  it becomes obvious very quickly just how incredibly comfortable he feels there and how he plays off of the comedic feel of the room by always bringing his "A" comedy chops. 

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For the record-- and I believe this has come up before-- Largo is not in West Hollywood. It is in the city of Los Angeles. The West Hollywood/Los Angeles line snakes in such a way that everything on La Cienega from Rosewood Ave. (where Norm's is) south is in L.A.

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59 minutes ago, Brian F. said:

For the record-- and I believe this has come up before-- Largo is not in West Hollywood. It is in the city of Los Angeles. The West Hollywood/Los Angeles line snakes in such a way that everything on La Cienega from Rosewood Ave. (where Norm's is) south is in L.A.

A surveyor I am not. You win.

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22 minutes ago, bböp said:

A surveyor I am not. You win.


It is not a competition. I just think it's important for people to know that, if stuff goes down-- and these shows teeter on the edge of a riot at times-- you'll need to call the L.A.P.D. to respond. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, which polices WeHo, has no jurisdiction at Largo. (Actually, arguably the only entity with jurisdiction at Largo is Flanny, who runs it as a sort of benevolent dictatorship.)


...But seriously, I would probably just call 911 if order needed to be restored but I can never remember the number.

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