March 04, 2008
BY JASON SONGE
I walked out of the Wilco show at Tipitina's Tuesday night trying to think of any other band around that sounds so comfortable together that can pursue so many different dynamics and subgenres(alt country, noizebo, AM '70's sleaze, southern rock majesty, dustbowl folkie, etc--how has Nels Cline made himself such a student of so many different types of music?). Radiohead? Amazing live, but not diverse enough(though they're getting there). The White Stripes? They come close, but the fact remains that I'm most impressed with Wilco.
I keep coming back to lead guitarist Nels Cline when I think of the show. A friend asked me how the show was, and the one aspect I made sure to mention before he had to quickly return to work was Cline. The Allman Brothers would be LUCKY to have him, and that may sound like sacrilege to a many, but really? Really?! Have you ever seen Cline and Tweedy create a lead guitar harmony? It's an amazing southern rock stereotype, a hammer of sonic gold that the Drive-By Truckers probably salivate over. The great thing about the show is that it's helped me fall in love with the new album, and I'm lovin' the many Cline fingerprints on it. People might say he's overbearing, but those people are dumb. When you have Cline, you overuse that motherfucker.
I got to Tips at 9 and got in the back of an already long line. I think I got into the venue at 9:30, got a good spot in the middle halfway back, and before I knew it, John Doe was hitting the stage exactly at 10. I didn't expect anything from him, but he and his band were good. Naughty, dark rock and roll peppered with country. A good jumpstart, even though I didn't think anyone needed one.
The band hit the stage with "(Was I) In Your Dreams," one of many songs I wouldn't recognize but would enjoy, nonetheless. I came into Wilco with Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and A Ghost is Born, so most of the older stuff is nice but not really in my heart.
1. When "Walken" reaches the instrumental apex and funks out--MAN! They threw down with that part.
2. During "You Are My Face," specifically "I have no idea how this happens/All of my maps have been overthrown," I looked around and so many people were screaming that part. Awesome! Such a good part.
3. Waiting for the guitar break at 4:08 in "Impossible Germany," and it turned out it was only Tweedy performing it, while Cline continued freaking out. I was on my tippie toes waiting for that break. They stretched it out as far as they could before they relinquished it.
4. "Jesus, Etc."--The song that everyone rallied behind, though "Late Greats" was really popular, too.
5. Not so "great," so to speak, but to see Tweedy keep looking up at the balcony during a song, worried they were gonna spill beer on the equipment. Weirdly enough, Tweedy wasn't 1/10 as funny or relaxed as he was during his solo show here a while back, but who cares? He could have said nothing.
6. When multi-instrumentalist Pat Sansone said "Total Pros(the name of the three-piece horn section relegated to the balcony)" in a Chicagoan Italian accent.
7. When bassist John Stirratt's Louisiana heritage was acknowledged by Tweedy.
I was surprised more people didn't rock out. Were they tired by the end? Wilco proved themselves to be a ROCK band, and I loved it, even though there was little elbow room. I got a lot of head bobbing in.
I'm gonna get something to eat, and then I'm off to night #2. Life could be worse, and then better and worse and better and worse and...
SETLIST(THANKS TO WILCOBASE.COM):
1. (Was I) In Your Dreams (w/Total Pros horns) 2. The Late Greats (w/Total Pros horns) 3. I'm Always In Love 4. A Shot In The Arm 5. At Least That's What You Said 6. You Are My Face 7. Side With The Seeds 8. Box Full Of Letters 9. Airline To Heaven 10. California Stars (w/Total Pros horns; dedicated to John Doe) 11. Impossible Germany 12. Via Chicago 13. Blood Of The Lamb (w/clarinet only) 14. Forget The Flowers 15. Someday Soon 16. Summer Teeth 17. Jesus, Etc. 18. Walken (w/Total Pros horns) 19. I'm The Man Who Loves You (w/Total Pros horns) // E1: 20. It's Just That Simple 21. Hate It Here (w/Total Pros horns) 22. Can't Stand It (w/Total Pros horns) 23. Kingpin 24. Red-Eyed And Blue 25. I Got You (At The End Of The Century) 26. Monday (w/Total Pros horns)