In the past several years Wilco's continued to expand their audience and gain critical acclaim as the quintessential American rock band. While Jeff Tweedy and his band always give their all for live shows, recently I felt they were getting predictable. But last Friday they sounded revitalized and even offered a few surprises.
The show consisted of three movements. They entered the stage with a vintage 70s light show behind them and went on to play Star Wars straight through. Jeff Tweedy and company whizzed through the ever changing styles of Star Wars ranging from Lennonesque pop to New Wave grandeur.
During the second phase of the show they played straight up versions of their older material, showcasing the breadth of their catalog. Lead guitarist Nels Cline really took over with virtuoso playing on many of the songs including "Impossible Germany" "Hummingbird" and "Either Way." Two of their signature songs "Via Chicago" and "Handshake Drugs" were also highlights.
The last and most satisfying part of the concert consisted of an impromptu unplugged performance. With Jeff Tweedy and John Stirratt on acoustic guitar, Nels Cline on steel guitar, Mikael Jorgensen on piano, Pat Sansone on banjo, and Glenn Kotche on percussion, Wilco performed "Misunderstood" "Bull Black Nova" "Jesus Ect.." "California Stars" and "A Shot in the Arm." Thus ending the concert on a poignant note.
Tweedy now takes on a Neil Young stage persona: unassuming, determined, the occasional dry joke. Allowing his band to showcase themselves more prominently seems a step in the right direction.
Over 20 years ago Wilco released their debut album A.M. and they show no signs of settling into an oldies act.