Jeff Tweedy Honors Biz Markie & Welcomes Nels Cline At MASS MoCA

Watch video from both shows, including Jeff Tweedy's "Just A Friend" tribute to the late Biz Markie.

By Scott Bernstein Jul 19, 2021 8:49 am PDT

Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy reunited with band mate Nels Cline as part of two concerts held at MASS MoCA’s Hunter Center in North Adams, Massachusetts on Saturday and Sunday. Additionally, Tweedy paid tribute to rapper Biz Markie, who died at age 57 on Friday, by covering some of “Just A Friend” at both shows.

Jeff Tweedy’s band for the performances saw him joined by his son, drummer Spencer Tweedy and multi-instrumentalist Liam Kazar on bass. The concert on Saturday was originally slated to be held outdoors but was moved indoors to the Hunter Center due to weather and a Sunday performance was added. Cline opened both shows and joined Tweedy towards the end of each as per a full report posted by Via Chicago’s bböp.

Nels went heavy on improv for his support sets before Jeff took the stage with Spencer and Liam. The trio focused on material from Tweedy’s solo albums during the first portion of each set. Then, Jeff went solo for a string of songs that included Wilco classics “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart” and “Reservations” on Saturday and “Jesus, Etc.” and “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart” on Sunday. Tweedy also unveiled new material during these segments with debuts of songs entitled “Hints” and “Please Be Wrong” coming at the first show and “Story To Tell” and “Say It Plain” at the second.

Spencer and Liam returned to accompany Jeff on a portion of “Just A Friend” following each solo segment. The audience sang the chorus along with Tweedy before Jeff discussed the loss of Biz Markie. Here’s what Jeff Tweedy said after “Just A Friend” on Saturday:

I know it wasn’t related but we’ve lost a lot of really, really amazing pop stars since December. It’s fucking crazy. Anyway, one of my favorites, such a beautiful, beautiful, spirit. I just wish he could be around for a lot longer. So thanks for singing along.

Not many people make records where their spirit comes through in every single thing, every single moment of their entire recorded output. Not many people do that. Not many people are themselves the whole fucking time. I’m not. For sure. This is a persona I’ve been working on for 30 years.

Nels emerged at the end of Jeff Tweedy’s set on Saturday to join the three musicians for “Love Is The King,” the title track from the Wilco frontman’s 2020 solo studio album. Jeff and Nels returned to duet on “The Lonely 1” off Wilco’s Being There LP as the encore on Saturday. Sunday’s concert ended in similar fashion as Cline joined the trio for “Half-Asleep” and “Love Is The King” at the end of the set while the encore consisted of another “The Lonely 1” duet and Nels with the band on “Airline To Heaven.”

Jeff, Nels and all of Wilco return to MASS MoCA for the next installment of the band’s Sold Sound Festival May 27 – 29, 2022. Video of both performances was streamed by Jeff’s wife, Susan Tweedy, on her @StuffInOurHouse Instagram page. Watch Saturday’s show with “Just A Friend” starting around the 21:05 mark followed by Sue’s video from Sunday’s concert:

Setlists (via bböp)

Saturday, July 17

Set: Having Been Is No Way To Be, Opaline, New Moon, A Robin Or A Wren, Bombs Above > Some Birds, I Am Trying To Break Your Heart*, Please Tell My Brother*, Hints*^, Please Be Wrong*^, Reservations*, Just A Friend (fragment)^, Evergreen, I Know What It’s Like, Half-Asleep, Don’t Forget, Gwendolyn, Desert Bell, Guess Again, Low Key, Love Like A Wire, You Are Not Alone, Family Ghost, Love Is The King&

Encore: The Lonely 1**

  • * – Jeff Solo
  • ^ – First Time Played
  • ** – Jeff and Nels only (Nels on lap steel)
  • & – full band and Nels (on lap steel and/or electric guitar)

Sunday, July 18

Set: A Robin Or A Wren, Don’t Forget, Having Been Is No Way To Be, Opaline, Ten Sentences, Bombs Above > Some Birds, Guaranteed, I Know What It’s Like, Jesus, Etc.*, Story To Tell*^, New Madrid*, Say It Plain*^, I Am Trying To Break Your Heart*, Just A Friend (fragment), You Are Not Alone, Evergreen, Guess Again, Family Ghost, Love Like A Wire, Gwendolyn, Half-Asleep&, Love Is The King&

Encore: The Lonely 1**, Airline To Heaven&

  • * – Jeff Solo
  • ^ – First Time Played
  • ** – Jeff and Nels only (Nels on lap steel)
  • & – full band and Nels (on lap steel and/or electric guitar)
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