Thursday, February 28, 2008

Wilco @ 9:30 Club - 2/27/08

SETLIST: Sunken Treasure / Remember the Mountain Bed / Company in My Back / You Are My Face / Side with the Seeds / She's a Jar / A Shot in the Arm / Nothing'severgonnastandinmyway (Again) / Handshake Drugs / Pot Kettle Black / When the Roses Bloom Again / Impossible Germany / It's Just that Simple / Someday Soon / Box Full of Letters / I'm Always in Love / Pieholden Suite / Jesus, etc. / Hate it Here / Walken / I'm the Man That Loves You / Hummingbird / On and On and On // Via Chicago / California Stars // Casino Queen / I'm a Wheel / Monday

GH: This show -- like a few others of theirs I've seen -- is kinda like the Freewheelin' Jeff Tweedy, with a band. The set's opening third seemed filled with songs that could've essentially been solo vehicles, but, as per usual, the band dressed them up pretty well. The setlist had great variety, though they left out most of my personal favorites; I'd say "Walken", "Hate it Here", or "Pieholden Suite" were the night's best tunes. Much like GL, I was really hoping for Red Eyed and Blue --> I Got You, but they set that one aside last night after playing it a number of times this tour. Other thoughts: 1)Tweedy was typically hysterical. He went after Dave Groehl for his Grammy acceptance speech and played up his "Carmen Miranda" hat to the NPR-stream listeners. 2) Stiratt is the McCartney of indie rock bassists. His parts are consistently more melodic and interesting than your average player, and he also sings good harmony. 3) Was Glenn Kotche wearing a tuxedo shirt? 4) Nels Cline is over 50. What if he was your dad? GL, what say you?

GL: Ha, Freewheelin' Jeff Tweedy. I like that a lot. I'd have to agree with my esteemed colleague in that they left out a lot of personal favorites, though it was fun to hear some songs that don't typically get a lot of live love. John Stirrat singing "It's Just That Simple" was a cool moment, not only because he's the bassist and doesn't really get a lot of attention (or any), but also because that song has the distinction of being the only one in the catalog not sung by Tweedy. Kind of shocking, yet not at all. The slow burning and soulful "Side With The Seeds" was a highlight for me as was the always enjoyable "I'm Always in Love". Also, as I mentioned to GH last night, I really don't like Sky Blue at all...but the songs off that album are pretty damn enjoyable in a live context. "Impossible Germany" and "Hate it Here" were also tours de force, mainly due to Nels Cline's ferocious fretwork and even more ferocious wardrobe. Seriously, what's up with the manpris and combat boots? He kinda scares me. Staying with the sartorial theme here, Glen Kotche was indeed wearing a tuxedo shirt. A pale yellow, frilly tuxedo shirt.

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mm from 'stock said...

A question to the Rockist Society - have you ever heard Wilco playing with more confidence than they've been displaying on this tour?

I had the pleasure of catching the band during their "Winter Residency" at the Riviera Theatre in Chicago and I came away impressed with, more than anything, the swagger the band seems to be carrying. Not sure if I just caught them on a good night (night 4 of 5 which was also broadcast live on XRT) or if they’re really just that together right now, but they managed to breakout the best cut at Spiders I’ve ever heard, threw in 3 or 4 songs with audience talk-backs, absolutely blew apart 4 Sky Blue Sky tunes (GL - I fully agree that while the record is dull those songs quickly turn into the highlight of their live shows) and book-ended everything with Outta Mind / Outtasight. All in one night, no opener, 2 1/2 hours in total.

Has their dusting off their entire catalogue caused their collective testicles to enlarge, or am I just crazy?

G.H. said...

Loyal Reader -

I'd say is a variety of factors, but yes, undoubtedly the band is about as comfortable as they've ever been. I think Tweedy's finally got the exact lineup he wants: Kotche has range like no other drummer, Cline can obviously do the arty-noise stuff as well as play lap steel, and Stiratt is a fine bassist with superb backup vocals. I'd venture to guess that most band-leaders would be jealous of that lineup.

As for the back catalog stuff, I think it gives the band a chance to goof off and little. There are lower expectations for them pulling out "I Thought I Held You" than there would be if they're touring on a brand new album -- fans are just excited to hear those tunes and they're maybe not as critical towards them. And then, of course, a little goofing off suits Tweedy pretty well.

I know some of us at this blog have pined for the days of Jay Bennett and Leroy Bach, but I'd say it's hard to argue that this lineup is firing on all cylinders.

mm said...

right on G.H.!