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Jeff Tweedy — 27 June 2023, Washington, D.C. (9:30 Club)

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Whaaaaaaat, Jeff Tweedy played four different solo acoustic shows in a tertiary outpost — Brooklyn, I think it was called — just to warm up for this single set in our nation's capital (that everyone could freely purchase tickets to attend without going through a lottery)? Oh, Brooklyn is more of a "quartiary" (quaternary?) market? Hey, Jeff said it...I didn't. B)


During that same bit of bantering about his run-up of shows leading to tonight's 9:30 gig, Jeff joked that what he was playing "are the songs that went over really well in Brooklyn." He had also joked on the final night in Brooklyn about breaking out of his no-repeat pattern there and just playing a "greatest hits of the first three nights" for the majority of the crowd that hadn't heard those songs. It's always interesting to see what ends up coming out on stage, but my thought was that he maybe wasn't entirely kidding about what he had said in either case. Certainly you could argue that this lone 9:30 set definitely resembled the first night at Brooklyn Made — which may have comprised a decent portion of the songs that he wanted to present during any given single show on this tour.


The first seven songs played at Brooklyn Made and the first six at 9:30 mirrored each other exactly with the exception of the new song Out For A Walk added to the sequence in Brooklyn. They both began with The Universe and also included a rearranged version of Box Full Of Letters that could be traced back to someone's request at last month's Vic benefit shows in Chicago for a "broken-down version" of Box that essentially Jeff interpreted to mean playing it in three-quarter time with a harmonica break (although he didn't play harmonica on it either at Brooklyn Made or 9:30). We also got the lovely 12-string guitar version of Country Song Upside Down tonight in Washington, just as the first night in Brooklyn, but that's where things started to deviate a bit, although both sets also included Lou Reed Is My Babysitter as well as singalongs Passenger Side and Jesus, etc.


After Lou Reed..., Jeff noted that "it took me an hour, but I figured out which kind of audience you are. You didn't come here for the beauty. You came here for the communal aspect of what we do. You came here to sing along. You didn't come here to see me finger pick beautifully." Of course Jeff had a little something for everybody, for example turning down a request for other potential singalongs such as California Stars in favor of a beautiful finger-picking tune in Muzzle Of Bees.


Personally, I was thinking during the show that it must be a bit difficult to play four nights in a relatively intimate venue and develop a rapport with an audience which, even though it wasn't the exact same people each night, you kind of got a sense of the room and what the vibe would be like. And to go from that to a bigger venue in a different city and have to get a feel for an entirely different setting. I know I was feeling that just as an audience member, so I have to imagine it was even more amplified for Jeff as the person whose job it was to entertain that room for 90 minutes.


My own feeling was that it was a little too reverential of an audience to create any truly memorable or humorous interactions. I mean, fairly early on different people called Jeff "beautiful" and "the GOAT" and there were a few admiring Tweedy Show clients who made themselves known, but there just wasn't much in the way of silly shouts or clownish behavior to play off. Or maybe Jeff just wasn't in a mood to really go there. One guy fairly early on yelled out a little awkwardly for Uncle Tupelo, and Jeff deadpanned in response, "I see you want the A-list material," before playing New Madrid. And a little later, during Company In My Back, another guy in the balcony yelled out a little too loudly out a couple of times mid-song — clever stuff like, "Yeeeeah!" and "Holy shit!" that Jeff could have at least given some side eye to but ultimately chose to ignore.


One thing I wanted to mention before I forget is that on this tour Jeff has been playing with his guitar plugged in for the first time in a long time. Many people don't even notice this, but typically when Jeff has performed solo in recent years, he has had a setup where there is a vocal microphone and then another microphone set up at his guitar level to amplify it, but the guitar isn't actually plugged in to the PA system. I've mentioned this before, and I'm not sure why it's returned on this tour. My only thought is that it's because these are the first solo shows for Jeff following the retirement of longtime front of house engineer Stan Doty, so perhaps Jeff has gone back to a more conventional setup to make it easier for Doty's replacement, Jared Dotorelli. In any case, I actually prefer when the guitar is plugged in because it has an added richness that is difficult to replace when the guitar is only amplified through a microphone. And though it really wasn't on display at 9:30 with the exception of the one song Jeff played a 12-string guitar on, the plugging-in really makes the 12-string guitars ring out.


I would also be remiss if I didn't also at least briefly mention the short, but sweet opening set turned in each night by Canadian country/folk singer Le Ren, who has been accompanied by her friend and fellow Canadian Fez Gielen on electric guitar and lap steel. I know she has been a favorite of Jeff's for a while now, and it's been nice to finally get to see her play live the past few nights. We even got the debut of a "hot off the presses" new song that she said had just been completed in the dressing room before the set.


As for Jeff, well, he pretty much did what he does and sent the 9:30 crowd home satisfied even without a true encore (it was the only mention of his bad hip all night, and he said at one point this would normally be where he goes off stage for a second while people applaud but he wasn't going to do that). He did pay at least a few visits to Banter Corner, some of which I've already recounted. One early one I didn't mention concerned how his ears were inexplicably plugged for the first few songs and he caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror and thought "my hair really does look Founding Fatherish, especially for D.C. Like, "Man that guy was there when they wrote the Declaration (of Independence)." Later, he went on a brief tangent after one of his beard hairs got stuck in his harmonica during She's A Jar and he wondered if you went back and listened to the tape of that moment would you be able to tell that had happened. "Tears were streaming out of my eyes..it was like a Gallagher show," Jeff quipped about the comedian known for smashing objects with a giant mallet. "We're all gonna get wet."

Here was the complete setlist, as played, at the venerable 9:30 Club:


The Universe

Box Full Of Letters ("broken down version")

I Am Trying To Break Your Heart


Having Been Is No Way To Be

Cruel Country

Country Song Upside Down

New Madrid

One Wing


Family Ghost


A Lifetime To Find

Company In My Back

Radio King

She's A Jar (w/harmonica)

Lou Reed Was My Babysitter

Passenger Side

Jesus, etc.

Ashes Of American Flags

Muzzle Of Bees

Dawned On Me

A Shot In The Arm

I'm The Man Who Loves You

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Great write up, thanks!!


I'd like to see the original setlist vs what was played last night.  At one point early in the set, someone shouted out "Uncle Tupelo" and after some banter from Jeff, he went into New Madrid.  A little later, after the singalong in the Lou Reed song, he said something like, "Ok, so this is the type of audience you are. You like singing along.  It usually takes me a while to figure it out".  And in response to the good singing, he went into Passenger Side and Jesus, etc.   It made me wonder if those three songs were on the setlist or if he just called an audible after interacting with the crown.


The ending of She's A Jar was pretty funny.   After the second bridge, ("Just climb aboard, The tracks of a trains arm, In my fragile family tree, And watch me floating inches above, The people under me"), I guess the crowd thought the song was over, or forgot about the final verse, because the place went nuts.  The crowd totally drowned out Jeff for most of the final verse of "She's a jar...... begs me not to hit her"


It was a fun show.  More mellow than I would have liked, but that's my standing complaint about Wilco/Tweedy for the last 10 years or so!  ;-)

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7 hours ago, Bart said:

Great write up, thanks!!


I'd like to see the original setlist vs what was played last night.  At one point early in the set, someone shouted out "Uncle Tupelo" and after some banter from Jeff, he went into New Madrid.


1 hour ago, Heart full of holes said:

We asked for a setlist immediately afterward and were told "There is no setlist." Was he winging it???? 

Absolutely amazing set from Mr. Tweedy.  


Wow, thanks for calling my one-paragraph lede "great." Haha, I will write some more that hopefully passes as at least fair to middling...


As for questions about the setlist, I always chuckle a bit to myself when people request "the setlist" at Jeff's solo shows because he usually just has a list of songs up there that presumably he feels comfortable playing on any given night. But it's not like he's following a set script. I think he's genuinely trying to feel out the room and the audience and then what he wants to play. That's my understanding of it, anyway. Sometimes he just gets in a mood, whether to talk or to not repeat a song over four nights or whatever it is. That's why I actually secretly enjoy Jeff's solo shows as much as anything he does, because you're getting pure unadulterated Jeff — sometimes that's amazing, sometimes it's amusing and sometimes it's awkward. In other words, the human condition. :lol

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22 minutes ago, Heart full of holes said:

We asked for a setlist immediately afterward and were told "There is no setlist." Was he winging it???? 

Absolutely amazing set from Mr. Tweedy.  


I'm 99% sure there was a set list.  I was up in the balcony and could see a sheet of paper on the table next to the mic.  It looked like a list of words, rather than a lyric written out, so it was either his grocery shopping list, or the set list!  ;-)

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I had a great time at the show last night.  There was some crowd silliness but not too much.  After Jeff remarked that the crowd seemed to want a singalong, he deliberately played Passenger Side and Jesus Etc because both are singalong songs.


But he also pivoted from those to Ashes and Muzzle of Bees, neither of which is particularly singalong-friendly.  I think it was his subtle way of taking back the direction of the show, and it worked.


It was also funny when someone shouted a couple of requests.  I didn’t hear all of them but one was California Stars.  Jeff said something to the effect of, “I’m not going to play those tonight.  I think a lot of folks here have heard me play those a bunch, so I’m going to play some different stuff.”  I for one appreciated his response there.  I don’t need all B-sides or anything, but variety is great.  

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