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Tweedy makes the most of being busy

Berklee Performance Center, Boston, April 6, 2019

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

Jeff Tweedy sure maintains a busy lifestyle. Of course, the singer's main gig is with Wilco, but there's more to life than that thoughtful rock band. Tweedy also has his own social career going with his first solo album entirely of new material, "Warm," out last November, and another one - "Warmer" - about to drop in a week. Not to mention an autobiography last fall as well.

Tweedy does things a lot differently on his own. For starters, this was a true solo gig. Just he and an acoustic guitar in hand in a sold-out show.

At 51, Tweedy has enjoyed a long career, which his song selection emphasized. He played material from the seminal alt.-country band Uncle Tupelo ("New Madrid," "Gun" and closing out the night with "Acuff-Rose"), Loose Fur ("The Ruling Class") and a bunch of Wilco and solo material, including a few from "Warmer."

Tweedy was not all that different than Wilco in concert. With both, while there were a few songs that gained radio play, such as "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart" from Wilco and the upbeat "California Stars," a Wilco/Billy Bragg collaboration with Woody Guthrie lyrics, neither Wilco nor Tweedy could succumb to a hits-laden show. That's not what they are about. (his current single, the buoyant "Let's Go Rain," is the kind of song that could generate commercial play as well. Ditto for "I Know What It's Like" from "Warm").

It's the overall affect of the songs and delivery that make both configurations so worthy. There's earnestness in the delivery.

Tweedy had a keen sense of humor on display throughout the show with a few songs (Wilco's "Heavy Metal Drummer"), but more so with his mouth. It was borderline snarky, but he also was self-deprecating. Catching a pair who came in late, he chided them a bit with a sarcastic "I'm sure you had a good reason." But then he wondered if they would then go on social media to say they were late because of a sick dog with Tweedy looking like the bad guy.

One got the distinct sense that Tweedy enjoyed engaging with the crowd - he did so quite often - while also having a few laughs at the audience's expense. This proved to be a far more intimate show than what Wilco offers. A matter of size dictates that.

Tweedy sure makes the most of being busy, including an evening where the emphasis was on the music.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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