Tweedy Solo Set Ends With Surprise Wilco Gig
"I have to warn you," said Jeff Tweedy at the start of his solo set. "I've taken a lot of medication." The crowd at Chicago's Vic Theatre, where Tweedy sold out a three-night stand, whooped, winked, and hollered at the mention of "medicine," but Tweedy wasn't speaking euphemistically. A longtime migraine sufferer, Tweedy's condition has grown worse in recent years, and it's only been through a steady regiment of drugs and treatment that he's kept it under control.
Oddly enough, Tweedy's ailments coincide with probably the most productive time in his band Wilco's career. At the Vic, though, it was just Tweedy and three beat-up acoustic guitars for a series of shows which ended two days before Wilco embarks upon its first-ever tour of Asia and Australia. He saved the best for his final show last night (Jan. 9), bringing all of his Wilco bandmates out from the wings for an impromptu set (and probably the world's fastest set-up).
Playing a loose selection of old songs, unreleased tracks, and, in Tweedy's words, "some pandering classics," Wilco looked like they were having more fun than on their intentionally somber and somewhat rigid dates in support of the "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" album. "Hello Brisbane!" joked Tweedy as the group dug into the fast full-band version of "I'm a Wheel," "Casino Queen," and the night-closing "Outta Mind (Outta Site)."
The first two nights featured Tweedy running through several songs from his rapidly deepening catalog that rarely find their way into Wilco shows. He dusted off a helpful of tracks from the two "Mermaid Avenue" Woody Guthrie adaptations, plus tunes dating back to his Uncle Tupelo days. Seldom-played Wilco songs such as "Candy Floss" (a hidden track on the group's "Summerteeth") left the referential fans grinning ear to ear.
As usual, the shows also featured a number of newer songs, ranging from the rocking "I'm a Wheel" to the surreal "Bob Dylan's Beard" to the Randy Newman-esque "Old Maid," which Tweedy said was an old "Being There" track that he finally got around to completing. "Millionaire" began with the lascivious line "I wish I could f*** you like he thinks he does," which Tweedy proudly delivered despite the presence of his mom and wife in the audience.
-- Joshua Klein, Chicago
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