Photos by Merideth C. & review by Dave G.
The stage at Hill Auditorium was packed from side to side with the band’s amps, speaker cabs, keyboards, microphones, and the drum kit, which featured the cover of Wilco’s latest album “Star Wars”. On one of the speaker cabs sat a nearly foot tall ceramic version of the same cat from the album cover. On each end of the stage a supply of guitars was set up with techs ready to rotate in new and take away old instruments. Hanging from the ceiling were three walls of vine-like LED lights: at the front of the stage, hanging down about 5 feet; in the middle of the stage, hanging down about halfway to the ground; and behind the stage, hanging to the floor.
As the chaotic “EKG” played through the speakers, the lights blinked various colors and patterns. As “EKG” came to a close, Wilco took the stage, and without a word to the crowd, played through the full ~35 minutes of “Star Wars”, an audacious move that they seemed to pull off with typical aplomb. Before moving into the rest of the soaring, nearly 2.5 hour set, lead singer and guitarist Jeff Tweedy, in a rare moment of banter for the night said he, “thought [the album] would be called ‘Cease and Desist’ by now, but it’s called ‘Star Wars’.”
The rest of the set was a magical mix of early classics like “Misunderstood”, “Shot in the Arm”, and “Via Chicago”, newer favorites like “Art of Almost”, and fan favorites from what many consider their peak like “Jesus, etc.”, “Hummingbird”, “Heavy Metal Drummer”, and “Company in My Back”. One particular highlight for me was when they played “You are My Face” which I requested on their website a few weeks before the show. Since it’s a song they have rarely played in the last 5 years, I obviously have to assume it was my request that landed it in the set.
There is nothing quite like a Wilco show. I have been to many concerts over the years and the 2 Wilco shows I’ve been to stand-out as favorites. The cool sincerity with which Tweedy approaches every song he sings combined with the exceptional talent from the rest of the band, particularly guitarist Nels Cline whose small bursts of genius in every song and occasional otherworldly solos, make Wilco one of the best acts out there.
Download songs from this set list by clicking the iTunes icon!
Set One - Star Wars:
- Random Name Generator
- The Joke Explained
- You Satellite
- Taste the Ceiling
- Pickled Ginger
- Where Do I Begin
- Cold Slope
- King of You
- Magnetized Set Two:
- Company in My Back
- I Am Trying to Break Your Heart
- Art of Almost
- You Are My Face
- Handshake Drugs
- Via Chicago
- Jesus, Etc.
- Born Alone
- Impossible Germany
- The Late Greats
- Heavy Metal Drummer
- I'm the Man Who Loves You Encore:
- Spiders (Kidsmoke) Encore Two:
- War on War
- True Love Will Find You in the End (Daniel Johnston cover)
- Give Back the Key to My Heart (Doug Sahm cover)
- California Stars (Billy Bragg & Wilco cover)
- A Shot in the Arm