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"I was Changed By Rock and Roll"

Musings on shows and introspective resolution. Yeah right.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Wilco, Chicago, Night 1

(photo from Santa Barbara Bowl, last year)

Wow. I can't believe it's been over a year since I posted.

Well, I'll be better.

I'm in Chicago for five nights of Wilco, who're playing their entire catalog in 10 sets. I'm covering for Relix, The Orange County Register, and The Chicago Sun Times. I thought I'd post setlists and my unedited notes here, for posterity.


Setlist (thanks to BigShoulderSporter):
Shot in the Arm
Side with the Seeds
You are my Face
I am Trying to Break Your Heart
Pot Kettle Black
At Least that's What You Said
What's the World Got in Store
When the Roses Bloom Again
Airline to Heaven
Ashes of American Flags
Either Way
Jesus Etc
Too Far Apart
Can't Stand It
Sunken Treasure
Spiders (Kidsmoke)

Far, Far Away
Why Would you Wanna Live
Impossible Germany
Sky Blue Sky
Please be Patient with Me
Cars Can't Escape

Hate it Here
I'm the Man who Loves You
Heavy Metal Drummer
Outtamind (outtasite)

Night one of 5 was a reminder that what Wilco does best is subtlety: even in their loudest moments, it's all about the minor details (and sometimes the mistakes) that an enhance a song: Nels soloing in “Why Would You Want to Live In This World?,” enhancing the ending with a melody that's hidden before, or the near-whisper of jeff's voice in “sky blue sky.” I started thinking that Mikael was the most underrated member of the band; every single thing he does is subtle, yet, take him out, and all of a sudden the songs would sound empty.

Much of the night was spent with Mikael and Pat both on keys, hiding Pat from view and hiding his musicianship, sometimes, from the songs. Watching him play shaker on “Heavy Metal Drummer,” though, only enunciates the point about subtlety: even on an instrument meant to hide, it's used so sparecely that you only hear it when you're trying too.

The horn section was underused; hopefully they'll come back tonight (I'd love to hear them on “I Got You”). Lots of Motown touches throughout; are wilco the only american band that successfully can draw from Dylan, The Temptations, The Beatles, and Sonic Youth equally? I say yes. “Can't Stand It” should be played way more: it was embued with an urgency that the recorded version's missing, thanks (again) to Nels Cline's aptly trained ear.

One thing that was very very interesting about night 1: most of Sky Blue Sky was played, and almost none of AM was. It should be fascinating to see how they mix up the remainder of the catalog over the next few nights.

Wilco Sliding Scale: 7.5

Some notes:
Horns on Cant Stand It/Walkin/I'm The Man Who Loves You
Pat on Keys for almost all the first set
Pat on Banjo! for What's the World Got In Store
I'm the man who loves you dedicated to Suzie
Jeff told an antecdote about Spencer calling the Foo Fighters the Poo Fighters, since they beat him at the grammys.