Jeff Tweedy takes his acoustic interpretations to London Special

Posted Feb 4, 2018 by Tim Sandle
Wilco front-man Jeff Tweedy has been touring over the past few months, playing paired down songs from his various band projects as acoustic numbers. He recently brought his show to London.
Armed only with his acoustic guitar and harmonica  Wilco front-man Jeff Tweedy came to the Barbican ...
Armed only with his acoustic guitar and harmonica, Wilco front-man Jeff Tweedy came to the Barbican, London.
Chris Sikich
Jeff Tweedy is a U.S. songwriter, musician, and record producer best known as the singer and guitarist of the band Wilco. Prior to Wilco, Tweedy was a member of the alt-country band Uncle Tupelo.
Wilco began in the same ‘Americana’ tradition before entering into a Kraftwerk-esque experimental phase. Since then the band have produced guitar-heavy music spanning a variety of different musical styles.
Taking a break from Wilco, and other side-projects like Tweedy (a collaboration with his drummer son Spencer), to reinterpret some of his songs played on different acoustic guitars and the occasional burst of harmonica. Some of the songs played appear on Tweedy’s latest album ‘Together at Last’, an earthy acoustic reassessment of songs drawn from his three-decade old storied songwriting career.
From Americana to Indy Rock - Jeff Tweedy.
From Americana to Indy Rock - Jeff Tweedy.
Taking to the stage of the Barbican in London on February 3, wearing a Stetson and replete with a scraggly beard, Tweedy said at one stage his aim had been to alter the listeners’ perception of his songs, either lyrically or sonically, by playing them paired down and in a more focused way.
Opening with ‘Via Chicago’ the new approach certainly had an intensity, and the approach enabled the audience to appreciate Tweedy’s lyrics which, in the view of this reviewer, are often underrated. Out came:
I dreamed about killing you again last night
And it felt alright to me
Dying on the banks of Embarcadero skies
I sat and watched you bleed
And that was just for openers. Seeming a little disengaged with the capacity audience, Tweedy ran through four songs, each composed of elaborate chord shifts, before engaging with the audience. He then warmed up, positively encouraging banter with the crowd before playing his first Uncle Tupelo number of the night ‘New Madrid’.
The stand-out songs of the evening were Hummingbird:
His goal in life was to be an echo
The type of sound that floats around and then back down
Like a feather
Plus one of Tweedy’s collaborative efforts with Billy Bragg, using the unpublished lyrics of Woody Guthrie, ‘California Stars’.
At the end Tweedy was lapping up the audience interaction and actively encouraged a sing-a-long to the Wilco track ‘Shot In The Arm’. All round it was an entertaining show, with some songs working better away from the full-band sound than others.