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Posts Tagged ‘Jeff Tweedy’

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Sunken Treasure

Jeff Tweedy and Snowblink at The Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThis show was a week ago; I think this may actually be my longest delay between witness and writeup ever and, in fact, Jeff Tweedy’s solo tour is just about over. So if you were waiting on some kind of report from opening night at Toronto’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre to decide if it was worth picking up one of the few remaining tickets for a later date… I’m sorry. Sorry that you would allow anything I say or do to influence your decision-making – you know I’m drunk most of the time, right?

But if I had gotten this review up sooner, I could have exhorted everyone going to any of the shows to arrive early enough to catch Snowblink, as local duo had been tapped to open up every show on the tour – maybe those at Wilco HQ had seen my glowing review of their debut Long Live? Either way, even though it was a tremendous opportunity for them, as soon as the lights dimmed it was clear they weren’t just happy to be there. The pair of Daniela Gesundheit and Dan Goldman took the stage carrying lanterns and eventually set up in their own, white cloth-strewn side of the stage – they were going to put on their show. And what a show it was – Gesundheit’s voice was strong and clear and sounded divine in the theatre’s acoustics, and their simple two-guitar arrangements – including an oustanding cover of Springsteen’s “State Trooper” – were subtly embellished with loops, percussion and electronic flourishes. Gesundheit might be a California native, but Toronto now proudly claims her as our own.

Wilco might have last been here as recently as October 2009, but it’s been much, much longer since Jeff Tweedy has come to town with just his acoustic guitars and songbook – so long that Tweedy himself didn’t remember ever having done so. In fact, it had been almost a decade exactly since he played Trinity-St. Paul’s on March 1, 2001, and when reminded of that by the audience he wryly referred to those as “the bad old days”. And while that may have been true for him from both a personal and professional sense, it’s impossible to deny that those were also some of Wilco’s most creatively fertile years, but also an era not often revisited with the full band.

And for about 90 minutes, alone on stage save for a circle of five acoustics and occasional visits from his guitar tech Steve (who was celebrating a birthday), Tweedy would revisit all eras of his career as well as some of his side-projects to air out some songs which would likely never otherwise be heard in these parts. Such as the original, non-Krautrock arrangement of “Spiders (Kidsmoke)”, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot b-side “Magazine Called Sunset” or Loose Fur selections “The Ruling Class” and “Chinese Apple”. And of course there were the couple of rare forays into the Uncle Tupelo canon – I know “Gun” would have been too much to hope for, but “Wait Up” was a most certainly welcome and the encore-closing, unamplified “Acuff-Rose” was for the ages. And from Wilco proper, there was a “Poor Places” which I thought turned out better than he seemed to, a rousing “Shot In The Arm” and a new song which has been unofficially dubbed “Open Up Your Mind”.

Considering who the Wilco dynamic has changed with the addition of virtuoso players like Nels Cline and Glenn Kotche, it was good to be reminded that without Tweedy’s songs at the core, beautiful and resonant even stripped down to their essences, it’d all be for naught. Tweedy on his own was also a different sort of performer, more inclined to engage and banter with the audience (and not berate us for not standing up this time), debate grammar, vocabulary and requests and crack more than few jokes, his best being that which accompanied the photographic evidence of his visit to local Wilco-themed sandwich shop Sky Blue Sky, and to which he added they “seemed a little safe – why not try some mulch, tinsel or fibreglass?”.

With a new Wilco album likely due out in the Summer, it’s a pretty safe bet that Tweedy will be back with his cohorts in tow for another couple nights at Massey Hall. And it’ll be expansive and filled with amazing musicianship, no doubt, but that just makes simple shows like this one all the more special.

The Toronto Sun, The National Post, The Globe & Mail and Chart were all in attendance; three out of four dentists agreed it was a great show.

Photos: Jeff Tweedy, Snowblink @ The Queen Elizabeth Theatre – March 22, 2011
MP3: Wilco – “What Light”
MP3: Wilco – “Spiders” (live)
MP3: Snowblink – “Ambergris”
MP3: Snowblink – “The Tired Bees”
Video: Wilco – “What Light”
Video: Wilco – “Outtasite (Outta Mind)”
Video: Wilco – “Box Full Of Letters”
Video: Wilco – “I Must Be High”
Video: Snowblink – “Ambergris”
Video: Snowblink – “The Haunt”

From the ashes of The Broken West and to The Drake Underground comes Pasadena’s Apex Manor; Ross Flournoy’s new band will be opening up for Jonny on June 3 and 4. Their debut The Year Of Magical Drinking is out now.

MP3: Apex Manor – “Under The Gun”

With the May 10 release date of their new record Burst Apart not really all that far off, The Antlers have put together a North American tour that includes a June 14 stop at The Mod Club with Little Scream supporting. She had to bail on the last few dates of her tour with Sharon Van Etten, including the April 12 date at The Drake, to go to Europe with Junip so this will be her next local date. Not that you needed the extra incentive to go see The Antlers, of course. The band performed the whole of the new record live at SxSW and NPR has the stream.

MP3: The Antlers – “Two”

There were here no less than four times last year, and they’re totally coming back for more – that’s Phantogram, and they’ll be at 69 Bathurst on July 28 in the company of The Glitch Mob.

MP3: Phantogram – “When I’m Small”

The Village Voice talks to Amy Klein of Titus Andronicus, who are in town for a show at The Horseshoe on April 1 and again on June 10 at The Phoenix supporting Okkervil River.

Exclaim, Billboard, The Baltimore Sun, The Washington Post and Mother Jones all have features on The Mountain Goats. Their new record All Eternals Deck is out now and they’re at The Opera House on April 3.

MP3: The Mountain Goats – “The Age Of Kings”

Blurt, The Huffington Post, Fogged Clarity, Los Angeles Times and The Von Pip Musical Express have profiles of Wye Oak, in town at The El Mocambo on April 9.

Sharon Van Etten is featured in The Phoenix New Times, Spin and Georgia Straight while NPR is streaming one of her SxSW performances. She’s at The Drake Underground on April 12, and yes that’s her doing backing vocals on The National’s contribution to the soundtrack for the film Win Win, which is now available to download.

MP3: The National – “Think You Can Wait”

Spinner, Pedestrian TV and Vanity Fair have interviews with The Kills, whose new record Blood Pressures is out next week. NPR is streaming one of their SxSW performances so you know what to expect when they hit The Sound Academy on May 1. The new album is also streaming in whole at their website.

Stream: The Kills / Blood Pressures

Low have made available a new MP3 from their forthcoming C’Mon, which is out April 12. They’re at The Mod Club on May 2 with Memoryhouse supporting.

MP3: Low – “Especially Me”

CNN has an interview with Shonna Tucker of Drive-By Truckers, who have a date at The Phoenix on June 15.

PopMatters and Blurt have interviews with The Dodos, who’ve put out a new video from No Color. They’re at The Phoenix on June 16 for NXNE.

Video: The Dodos – “Black Night”

Exclaim reports that My Morning Jacket have assigned a May 31 release date for their new record Circuital. They will be at The Kool Haus on July 11 to support.

Metro Pulse talks high fidelity with Asobi Seksu.

Paste and Blurt have interviews with J Masics, who has released a new Chad Van Gaalen-directied video from Several Shades Of Why

Video: J Mascis – “Not Enough”

MTV Hive has an interview with Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes while NPR is streaming their show from Auditorium Shores at SxSW.

NOW interviewed those involved with the Elephant 6 Holiday Surprise Tour that rolled through town a few weeks back, while NYC Taper has a recording of one of the New York shows.

eye and The Georgia Straight check in with Warpaint.

The Los Angeles Times, Spinner, The Boot, The Telegraph and Publishers Weekly all talk to Steve Earle about I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive, which is both the name of his new record, out April 26, and first novel, out May 12.

Rolling Stone chats with Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, who has set a June target for their second record.

Spinner, The Phoenix and The Fly have interviews with Buffalo Tom.

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart discuss their new record Belong with The Line Of Best Fit, The University Observer, Jambands and Exclaim. And oh hey new video.

Video: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – “Heart In Your Heartbreak”

Pitchfork pays tribute to the hanging-it-up LCD Soundsystem with an exhaustive analysis of the band’s catalog. Seriously, it’s exhausting.

Austinist and The Huffington Post interview Liz Phair.

NYC Taper has posted a recording of Yo La Tengo’s show at Maxwell’s in New Jersey last week.

NPR doubles up on The Head & The Heart, streaming both one of their SxSW sets and a World Cafe session. The Big Takeover has an interview with the band, whose self-titled debut gets a reissue on April 16.

Sunday, March 13th, 2011

"Lookin' For A Love"

Jeff Tweedy covers Neil Young

Photo By Austin NElsonAustin NelsonWilco shows tend to be pretty planned-out affairs – it’s hard to be too spontaneous with song selection with six band members and attendant gear and sound changes – but get frontman Jeff Tweedy out on his own and apparently it’s a much more open-ended affair.

Witness this live solo recording – undated but I suspect it may come from an acoustic 1999 show at Chicago’s now-departed Lounge Ax, confirmation or other info welcome – he indulges some audience requests for a Neil Young cover by going back to 1975’s Zuma, if just to silence them. It will be interesting to see if he’s so patient or obliging when he sets out on a short solo tour next week, kicking off with two nights at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Toronto on March 22 and 23. You think anyone in Toronto would want to request some Neil Young?

Wilco are wrapping up work on album number eight, due out later this year. Neil Young is getting ready to tour last year’s Le Noise and while that doesn’t include a T.O. stop, he will be in town on March 27 to pick up a special humanitarian award at this year’s Junos, where he’s also nominated for Artist Of The Year and Adult Alternative Album Of The Year.

MP3: Jeff Tweedy – “Lookin’ For A Love”
Stream: Neil Young – “Lookin’ For A Love”