Jeff Tweedy, Vic Theater, Chicago, IL- 2/13
Jeff Tweedy played the first of two shows at the Vic Theater on the night of Friday, February 13. This solo acoustic benefit show was a medley of comedy, folk and rock music. Initial tickets were sold at $250.00 and $300.00 but at that price interest was low and eventually they were rereleased at $50.00 and $100.00. Call it a thermometer in today’s recessionary times but the end result was 1,400 fans being treated to an intimate night of requested songs and comic banter. It was a charity concert for the Montessori School in Chicago which is becoming an annual affair for the Tweedy family. Patient fans were lucky enough to purchase tickets for about $10.00 if they were bold enough to hold out till the last minute. Frustrated scalpers camped outside the Vic hoping to unload their last remaining tickets as the show began.
Tweedy took the stage amidst a backdrop of a guitar cornucopia, ensuring that the night of music would include a variety of acoustic measures. Tweedy has come a long way from his salad days, no longer reticent and suffering from migraines, his stage presence is brimming with confidence. His jovial mood was apparent from the first note as he exchanged greetings with the audience. He joked early and often about everything from the songs requested to his family life, often referencing his wife and some of the quirks they share, including one he parlayed into a looping song that reappeared through out the evening.
The requested song list included the entire gambit of Tweedy’s career path from Uncle Tupelo to Wilco. The new ballad “Everlasting Everything” was one of the first songs played and was warmly received by the seemingly knowledgeable crowd. “Box full of Letters” and “Hummingbird” followed, keeping the slower and mellow theme consistent. Later on in the first set, the popular “Airline to Heaven” got the crowd going as they sang the chorus along in unison, although one fan, who attempted to start a clap along during “Airline” was comically mocked by Tweedy. Eventually the first set was finished up with a marvelous rendition of the title track of Wilco’s third album, “Summer Teeth.”
Tweedy took a short break before he returned to thank everyone for coming out for such a good cause. The young business casual crowd was generally attentive and well behaved with the occasional exception. There was one re-occurring “Jesus, etc.” request that was eventually granted, much to the roar of audience although one wonders if the applause was for the song or for the silencing of the over zealous fan. Either way it was well played and this commercial success is always well received. Tweedy also managed to cover some of the legends that have inspired him. Bob Dylan’s poignant “Simple Twist of Fate” and Brian Wilson’s "Love and Mercy" were welcome additions to the night’s playlist. The show later concluded with Tweedy playing an unamplified “The Thanks I Get” encore, an appropriate way to finish off an outstanding evening.
Jeff Tweedy continues to grow in all facets of life both personal and professional. His ever-increasing confidence is widely apparent and enhances his ability to entertain a crowd. An intimate setting like the Vic Theater is a perfect venue to observe this development. It was an inside look at one of Chicago’s hometown heroes and judging by the crowd’s reaction, his iconic status will continue well into the future.