We secretly hate it when a work colleague brings their child to the office. It’s even worse when they are musicians: the catalogue of parent-sibling hook-ups in pop is long and inglorious. In the case of Jeff Tweedy, frontman of cult rock group, Wilco, however, the picture is more complicated: the singer and guitarist’s 18- year-old son, Spencer, is happy to remain in the margins as drummer.
Indeed, familial smugness was in scant supply as the pair brought their well-received Sukierae album to Vicar Street. In essence a solo project by dad, the LP is less fussy and overwrought than recent Wilco records — in places, the notoriously tortured Tweedy sounds as if he might be vaguely enjoying himself (perhaps it is the liberating effect of not being required to live up to Wilco’s 15-year legacy).
This was literally a concert of two halves. The opening segment was a track-by-track reprise of the Sukierae, with Tweedy Snr and Jnr manning guitar and drums, respectively, backed by an enthusiastic supporting ensemble (most of whom had adopted Tweedy’s unofficial uniform of checked shirt and two-day whiskers).
Because it sounded vaguely like Wilco, the new material was respectfully received by the near-sellout audience.
It helped that Tweedy the Elder was a wry raconteur, his between-track banter a counterpoint to the existential bleakness that often dripped from his songs.
But the real enthusiasm was reserved for the closing sequence, a whistle-stop overview of Wilco’s outstanding moments. There were versions of ‘I Am Trying To Break Your Heart, Spiders (Kidsmoke)’ and ‘Jesus Etc’ — soulful dirges that balanced ennui and craftsmanship and contained occasional glimmers of genius. Any misgivings that you were along for alt.rock’s answer to Steptoe and Son had thoroughly dissipated.
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