I realized as I was watching Jay Farrar play on Thursday night that I’ve been watching him play music and sing songs for 14 years now. I’ve liked other bands for well over a decade. Bands like R.E.M. for example. But I there is no connection with a huge band like that like there is with the small band that you see every time they come into town. Tammy has a parallel to this in Tina and the B-Sides.
Farrar was billed at First Avenue, but was rescheduled to the Cedar Cultural Center after First Avenue shutdown. The concert would have been much different at First Ave. More energy I’m sure. But on the plus side you can’t smoke at the Cedar which is really nice and it is a much more intimate venue.
Farrar played a good set, almost entirely from his solo catalog. He played three Son Volt songs and no Uncle Tupelo songs. I liked this, even though I really love those old songs, there is something a little sad about someone playing songs a decade old to an audience yearning for the ‘glory days’. The fresh material was welcome and very good.
Farrar is a reluctant performer. He always has been. Very different than his Uncle Tupelo bandmate Jeff Tweedy now fronting Wilco. Tweedy seems to love the stage and attention. Farrar draws away from it. He’s gotten better since the early days of Uncle Tupelo where he would never say any thing and just looked at his shoes while he sang, but he’s still not one to banter with the crowd. It makes his solo live performances somewhat awkward, but the music is that good and that real.