State Palace Theatre
April 21, 2005
In between songs Jeff Tweedy said Wilco's concert at the State Palace Theatre Thursday night was his first show with the band as a non-smoker. The lead singer/guitarist said that, with all the nicotine patches covering his body, he looked like a quilt underneath his clothes. Tweedy's story was interrupted when people up front threw cigarettes onstage. He said, "What the f---? I'm trying to quit." That's how we say we love you in New Orleans. It's all a part of the beautiful, twisted web we weave. You've got a temptation, Jeff Tweedy? Here's some cigarettes to help you.
State Palace was an exceptional setting for Wilco. The sound was great, a floor allowed for dancing, and seats allowed for meditation. People could fall into the delicate arrangements in "Jesus, etc." like rain falling through a grill. The crowd was reverent. When Wilco went into the many soft moments of their last two albums, anticipation from the audience greeted them. There was a great, positive vibe in the room. Very comfortable. Like people were concentrating on the words, the music. They had seen the fireworks before, but they wanted their heartstrings pulled.
This is where Tweedy came in. Easily one of the top five songwriters in the U.S., Tweedy penned songs that were angry, reflective, sensitive, resigned, and most importantly, post-everything. Songs that were created with an attitude and that had a subtext of, "Tell me something I don't know." Songs that said, "This is all I have left to say." Thankfully, the Wilco concert wasn't a weepfest. There was also rock n' roll celebration in the songs. The more obvious rockers like "Shot in the Arm" and "Monday" came from Wilco's back catalog. With its funky synthesizer, tambourine, and anthemic hooks, "Monday" had the crowd shouting along with Tweedy.
Rock explosions came out of nowhere on songs from the last two albums. This made the songs more aggressive. Guitar twang that was stuck in the past cut through the silence and was re-born on "At Least That's What You Said." The guitar, piano, bass, and drums pulsed together before settling into a medium-paced guitar freakout colored by piano notes here and there. As the four stacks of vertically aligned, orange drag race lights flashed in time with the psychedelic breakdown of "Poor Places," the band morphed into "Spiders(Kidsmoke)," which was much more rockin' than on the album. That song is supposed to be heard live. It might feel tedious on record, with its repetitive rhythm, but it broke into pogo-inducing patches of joy that were anything but boring.
"Spiders(Kidsmoke)" ended the set, which was
populated with songs from "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" and "A Ghost is Born," except for "A Shot in the Arm." It was impressive how they were able to re-create the intricacies of these two albums live. The two encores dug deeper into the past with "Monday," "Passenger Side," "Outtasite(Outta Mind)," "Kingpin," and Misunderstood." The night ended with the John "Speedy" Keen-penned Thunderclap Newman classic, "Something in the Air." The crowd went crazy for this one.
The band was very tight. They had to re-start a song once, but their show was on par with Radiohead's intensity. Like Radiohead, they were able to play and express complicated(in structure and message) music with success.
1. Muzzle Of Bees
2. At Least That's What You Said
4. I Am Trying To Break Your Heart
6. Company In My Back
7. Hell Is Chrome
8. Handshake Drugs
9. A Shot In The Arm
10. Jesus, Etc.
11. War On War
13. I'm The Man Who Loves You
14. Poor Places
15. Spiders (Kidsmoke)
17. Ashes Of American Flags
18. The Late Greats
19. I'm A Wheel
22. Outtasite (Outta Mind)
23. Passenger Side
24. Something In The Air