(photo: Chris Davis)
It’s always good to see Jeff Tweedy in concert. March 1st in Oklahoma City was no different. A great newer use/repurposed venue in the Auditorium (formerly Douglass High School) was the site of the show.
Just Jeff and his guitar made it an intimate evening and a good time. He was feeling good and sounded great, as well. Opening with one of my favorites, “Via Chicago,” it was a lively 90 minute tour through the Wilco catalog, along with some songs off his latest solo record “Warm” and even a couple of songs from the Uncle Tupelo years.
Highlights of the show included “Jesus, Etc.” (Mr. & Mrs. Davis’s favorite), “Misunderstood,” “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart,” “California Stars” (from the Billy Bragg/Wilco collaboration of Woody Guthrie lyrics), the aforementioned “Via Chicago,” “Impossible Germany,” and “Acuff-Rose” (an Uncle Tupelo diamond in the rough).
There was great banter with the crowd, which you don’t get a ton of at a Wilco show, and this kept things light. The crowd seemed to hang on every song, and it made for an overall good time. Opening act Buck Meek was an interesting choice for the tour, but Tweedy is well known for introducing up and coming stylists to his crowd (a Wilco show in Kansas City was the first time I saw Andrew Bird).
But, the overall feeling I took from the night was that the music of my young adulthood is still standing the test of time. Tweedy is fast becoming an elder statesman of the alt-country genre and the role fits him well. He, of course, has the history and the experience that this is a no-brainer.
But, like most things for me, it always goes back to the songs. Wilco and Son Volt, the off-shoots of the Uncle Tupelo breakup were both seminal bands for me during my college years. I still remember buying “AM” and “Trace” at the old Target on Penn & Memorial when I visited my brother who was studying at the University of Central Oklahoma. I thought it was the big-time because it was. Being able to find music like this when I came from small town Oklahoma. This was pre-Internet and way pre-Amazon or iTunes days. Back when you bought the whole album and listened to every track.
Jeff Tweedy’s songs have been there for me for a long time, and they’re still there. When I hear “Name me a song that everybody knows, and I’ll bet you it belongs to Acuff-Rose” or “Tall buildings shake, voices escape, by singing sad, sad songs,” I am always taken back. Back to times, places, people, and experiences.
I still need those songs to help me get through the day to day of life. Thanks, Mr. Tweedy.