The gentle father-and-son hug was a touching moment at the end of this stirring performance. It clearly showed that Jeff Tweedy and his 18-year-old drummer boy, Spencer loved each other, being on stage together and had put on one helluva show.
Over two hours of Tweedy, Wilco and Uncle Tupelo songs sated an enthusiastic band of fans, huddled together in the front stalls enthralled by the flawless and intimate collection this excellent band had brought to Celtic Connections.
Jeff’s vocals were as good as they’ve ever been while his players – guitarist Jim Elkington, bassist Darin Gray, and Tweedy junior’s High School chum, Liam Cunningham on keyboards/guitar – bumped and chunked with gusto and no little power with shades of The Band seeping in.
Tweedy and son’s collaborative album, Sukierae hogged the early part of the show and tracks that stood out were the louche, deep drum driven World Away and the haunting, heartfelt and melodic Nobody Dies Any More, sung with an endearing, gentle edge. Sukierae is named after Tweedy’s wife, Sue who is battling lymphoma. The songs were not complex. They were simply loving and emotional.
Overall there was a more predictable ambience than you’d fine at a Wilco gig – there were neither major wig-outs nor knuckleheads scrapping in the balcony, as Tweedy recalled from his last visit to what is the poshest venue in the city. The mood was pitched perfectly.
When Jeff let the band take a break, he conjured up solo magic from Wilco albums such as Yankee Hotel Foxtrot’s formidable I Am Trying to Break Your Heart as well as a ripping, straight down the highway New Madrid from the Uncle Tupelo classic Anodyne from 1993. It was a perfect way for him to showcase why he’s revered as a leading singer/songwriter of this time.
No outing sadly when the band returned for Handshake Drugs but the gorgeous California Stars – from the 1998 album, Mermaid Avenue by Wilco and Billy Bragg based on Woody Guthrie lyrics – made up for it, bringing the show to an end and the enthralled crowd to its feet. It was a deft, fulfilling and outstanding performance, knitting together new family-forged material with songs from a back catalogue that’s hard to beat or ignore.
Celtic Music Radio 95FM