Jeff Tweedy — 8/4/11, Honolulu, HI (Hawaii Theatre)
Contrary to popular belief, or at least my belief, not everybody is automatically greeted with a lei around their neck the minute they step off their plane in Hawaii. As it turns out, apparently almost no one is, except those on tour groups (and probably celebrities and other VIPs). But if the lei is the traditional Hawaiian symbol of welcome, then Jeff Tweedy certainly received a warm reception many, many, many times over for his first-ever performance in the state.
It started almost from the moment Jeff took the stage when one woman marched to the stage and draped a lei over one of his monitors, telling him, “We’ve waited a long time.” That opened the proverbial floodgates, as a number of other people who had also brought leis took their cue and proceeded to drape theirs over the monitor as well until there was a tangled pile of the flower necklaces at Jeff’s feet. A few songs into the show, Jeff finally remarked, “Thank you for the leis. I don’t often get to say that with a straight face.”
If you didn’t know that this was Jeff’s first performance in Hawaii, you wouldn’t have been able to tell by the crowd. The audience was surprisingly boisterous, behaving the way most audiences at Jeff’s solo shows do — yelling out requests, conversing with Jeff between songs, displaying some poor cell phone etiquette and clapping (mostly arhythmically).
The latter tendency came to a head during “Hummingbird” when Jeff called out one particularly determined clapper. “Sorry, you poor clapping fool,” Jeff said, as he expressed his displeasure at the practice of clapping during songs. It resulted in a, shall we say, erratic performance of the song as a few determined clappers persisted and Jeff found it difficult to keep a straight face. When a few people subsequently began to clap at the start of the next song — a new one, “Dawned On Me, ” no less — Jeff said he “didn’t expect you guys to be so defiant,” while making it clear that he preferred people not clap.
Another funny moment came when Jeff flubbed a lyric during “New Madrid,” and explained afterward that the reason was he had been thinking about a psychedelic depiction of himself using a number of Hawaiian motifs on the cover of the Honolulu Weekly. Someone produced a copy from backstage, which Jeff proudly showed off and kissed, saying it looked nothing like him but was nevertheless amazing.
Jeff also poked a little fun at what he called the island attitude in which everyone responded to everything by saying, “No worries.” Back home in Chicago, he joked, it was the exact opposite: the response to everything was “Worries.”
For me, though, the highlight of the show might have been the first encore when Jeff invited bandmate Pat Sansone (who had opened the show — see below) on stage to play a few songs. Pat has been a prolific sideman for much of his career and has a co-producing credit on the forthcoming Wilco record, “The Whole Love,” so he was an ideal person to accompany Jeff. The duo started out with a pair of songs from The Whole Love, “Born Alone” and “Open Your Mind.” The former featured the full-band arrangement though it obviously was played with just two acoustic guitars, likely marking one of the few times the song will be played exactly that way.
Jeff and Pat seemed to enjoy the relatively rare opportunity to play together as a duo, extending the encore probably beyond what had been planned. On “California Stars,” Pat added some nice guitar work between verses and excellent harmonies throughout. And on “Heavy Metal Drummer,” which Jeff didn’t play on a 12-string guitar as he usually does, Pat filled in the “ooo…hey” vocals and added some nice little flourishes.
So all in all, I’m obviously delighted to have been able to make the trip — and I suspect that Jeff and Pat were as well. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the other two-thirds of Wilco join them back here before too long.
Here was the complete setlist, as played:
Remember The Mountain Bed
You And I
Muzzle Of Bees
Via Chicago (started and restarted)
Dawned On Me
You Are Not Alone
Someday, Some Morning, Sometime
Not For The Season
So Much Wine [The Handsome Family]
I’m Always In Love
I’m The Man Who Loves You
A Shot in the Arm
Born Alone (w/Pat Sansone on acoustic guitar and backing vocals)
Open Your Mind (w/Pat Sansone on acoustic guitar and backing vocals)
California Stars (w/Pat Sansone on acoustic guitar and backing vocals)
Please Be Patient With Me (w/Pat Sansone on acoustic guitar and backing vocals)
The Late Greats (w/Pat Sansone on acoustic guitar and backing vocals)
Heavy Metal Drummer (w/Pat Sansone on acosutic guitar and backing vocals)
Walken (performed at edge of stage w/o PA system)
Prior to performing with Jeff, Pat did a too-rare solo acoustic set to open the show — he said it was just the second time in maybe 15 years that he had done it, and I think it was the first during that time in which he played solely acoustic guitar — and it was a definite treat to hear him play some of his songs from the Autumn Defense and, especially, covers of songs by Miracle Legion’s Mark Mulcahy (“Even Better”) and Big Star’s Chris Bell (“You And Your Sister”).
Here was the complete setlist for Pat’s opening set:
Tell Me What You Want
Don’t Forget Me
Even Better [Mark Mulcahy]
This Will Fall Away
The Swallows Of London Town
You And Your Sister [Chris Bell]