Jeff Tweedy, Union Chapel, London
Friday 02 July 2010
"This song is about Jesus smoking crack," smiles a wry Jeff Tweedy, the frontman of Chicago rock band Wilco, who stands solo in front of the pulpit at the beautiful Union Chapel. "I keep getting invited to churches to play this song, so I'm guessing it's theologically sound."
A shy Tweedy is clearly nervous when he first takes to the church's stark stage (he admits to "screwing up the words" within seconds of shakily commencing opening track, "Someone Else's Song", and starts again).
Standing in front of a line of six acoustic guitars, there is no stage paraphernalia to hide behind. It's just Tweedy, his strings and his mic, until British singer-songwriter Bill Fay joins Tweedy for some moral and vocal support on his third offering to the crowd – Fay's delicate song "Be Not So Fearful". Aptly, this track seems to be Tweedy's turning point as he gains control of his nerves and is soon firing off signature comic asides as he relaxes into the intimate surroundings. He chats with the crowd, and fans even shout questions up to him, giving a friendly, close atmosphere that is further intensified by the summer heat.
As Tweedy serenades the seated audience with "One Wing" from Wilco's newest 2009 self-titled album, the light in the Chapel begins to fade in perfect unison with his charmingly jaded vocals. Later, he takes requests from an "asshole called David, who wants 'anything by Dylan'". "I've written like a million songs!' Tweedy protests, before strumming Simple Twist of Fate.
Sadly, the echoes of the overly loud PA drown the nuances and delicacy of Tweedy's voice – which he thankfully shows the crowd by performing his last song, Uncle Tupelo's "Acuff-Rose", without his mic.
Raucous isn't usually a word that best describes the congregation in a church, but this crowd of thirty and fourtysomethings salute Tweedy with a thunderous applause and a standing ovation that is thoroughly deserved.
Arts & Ents blogs
Apple's Tim Cook: Business isn’t just about making profit
Thousands of young people forced to go without food after benefits wrongly stopped under 'draconian' new sanctions regime
Ukraine crisis: New navy chief 'defects' and surrenders Crimean HQ as Putin claims ultranationalists forced intervention
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Ukraine crisis: Russia dismisses '3am ultimatum' as 'total nonsense'
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
- 1 The future of sex: The first female condoms were derided, mistrusted and shunned - but will their modern counterparts catch on?
- 2 South African rhino finally put down after roaming Kruger park for days with horn hacked off and bullet in brain
- 3 Italian pensioner hires an escort who turns out to be his son's girlfriend
- 4 Orgasm machine to deliver climax at the push of a button
- 5 Liam Neeson turned down James Bond role to marry Natasha Richardson