Jeff Tweedy at the Paramount Theatre, 12-5-13 (photos, review)By Jonathan Gang | December 6th, 2013 | No Comments »
The songs of Jeff Tweedy and the sound of Wilco have a funny relationship. Wilco’s recorded output has, for much of their career, been defined as much by their sonic experimentation as by Tweedy’s often simple folk and alt-country tunes. Albums such as their 2002 musique-concrete meets indie folk masterpiece “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” pushed the boundaries of just how far afield folk-rock’s aural context could be taken in the studio. It also doesn’t hurt that, especially in the incarnation of the band that has been touring and recording for much of the past decade, Tweedy has rounded out his group with virtuoso avant-garde players like Nels Cline and Glen Kotche.
Seeing these songs stripped of all accompaniment, as they were at Tweedy’s solo set at the Paramount Theatre on Thursday, is a great reminder of the fact that Wilco are as much descendants of Bob Dylan, Neil Young and James Taylor as Can and Sonic Youth. Tweedy presented a set that delved deep into his back catalog, drawing mostly on Wilco rarities, unreleased tunes, and even a song from his old band, the alt-country godfathers Uncle Tupelo.
The word “intimate” gets thrown around a lot when describing stripped down acoustic shows of this ilk, but it’s almost an understatement when talking about Thursday’s performance. Tweedy seemed to pick his setlist on a whim, even responding to several shouted requests from the crowd. The songs themselves were presented in a scrappy, off the cuff manner that included a fair share of false starts and missteps (and even an aborted version of the early Wilco tune “Box Full of Letters when Tweedy realized he couldn’t play the song’s bridge on an acoustic guitar.)
In the end hiccups such as this were more endearing than disappointing, reinforcing the casual nature of the gig. Tweedy, who might have been a promising stand-up comedian in another life, spent nearly as much time bantering with the crowd on topics such as marijuana legalization, David Lee Roth and the near-secession of Northern Colorado as singing. The whole experience seemed closer to a campfire sing-along than a packed gig in a big theater, an intimate evening between Jeff Tweedy and 1,800 friends.
Jonathan Gang is a Boulder-based writer and a regular contributor to Reverb.
Evan Semón is a Denver freelance writer and photographer and regular contributor to Reverb. See more of his work.