Monday, November 27, 2006

Radio Cure - Wilco in Chicago 11-25-06

Wilco amazed me once again last Saturday night at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago, a spectacular venue for any type of show, but one especially well suited to the sonic display this band has to offer. I don’t get around much any more, but I think these guys are among the most exciting live bands I’ve ever seen, and perhaps the most accomplished musicians. By keeping their touring schedule to a series of short stints throughout the year interspersed with side projects and solo tours, Wilco manages to keep things fresh and the energy level high. On stage, they come across as a tight, well rehearsed ensemble with just the right amount of rock and roll abandon. Quite an accomplishment, as their music has grown increasingly complex. Plus, these guys are a joy to watch on stage, whether it’s a sonic dogfight between the avant-garde Nels and Jeff Tweedy, or the phenomenal percussion of Glenn Kotche. I swear you could watch nothing but Glenn for the entire show and be entertained.

At a Wilco show, you never know what to expect. The show began with a 10 minute ambient electronic solo by a guy in a bunny suit. The bunny (or was it a bear?) turned out to be Bobb Bruno, a friend of guitarist Nels Cline. The intro caught everyone off guard and succeeded in getting the stragglers to their seats before the band took the stage (to the Bob Newhart Theme, I think). Never a band to hit you over the head with a hard rocking opener, Wilco eased into the set with two of their more difficult and brooding tunes. The music seemed to slowly unfurl, culminating in the feedback frenzied coda of Handshake Drugs.

Over the course of the evening, Wilco played 5 new tunes, hopefully destined for their 2007 album release. Side with the Seeds (the apparent song title) was the first band performance of the tune (Jeff Tweedy may have played it at a solo show recently). During the encores, the new tune Let’s Not Get Carried Away really impressed me, and came complete with an honest-to-God drum solo!

At some point Jeff remarked that this was the first time he could remember that he didn’t know when the band would play again. This may have alarmed some of the crowd, but what he meant was that nothing was immediately scheduled. This band is soaring right now, and I fully expect 2007 to be a huge year for them.

Set List

Radio Cure/I Am Trying to Break Your Heart/Handshake Drugs/Shot In The Arm/Impossible Germany/Poor Places/Shake It Off/She's a Jar/Airline To Heaven/Jesus, Etc./Side With The Seeds/Forget the Flowers/Walken/Theologians/I'm The Man Who Loves You

Encore One:The Late Greats/Ashes of American Flags/Heavy Metal Drummer/Let’s Not Get Carried Away/Kingpin/Passenger Side

Encore Two: Hummingbird

The photo is from an earlier show in Wichita, by ksmoke. See more here
Buy Kicking Television - Wilco Live in Chicago

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