Last wednesday night marked my fourth time seeing Wilco live and wow, what a show it was. The show had a large mix off of their latest album “The Whole Love” but they played something off of each of their studio albums as well as some obscure tracks during the evening.
The opening three songs were a bold and wonderful way to start the show. They started with the slow burn opener of “One Sunday Morning” transitioning into “Poor Places” that starts so innocently and then breaks into sonic chaos at the end transitioning right into “Art of Almost”.
“Via Chicago” & “Bull Black Nova” were another great back to back pairing and there was a pretty funny moment right at the start of “Born Alone” where there was an issue with a guitar and the Jeff had to fill in for a couple of minutes. He made some comments about “Portlandia” making fun of the town on TV and almost danced a bossanova.
Things picked back up again with a seven minute version of “Impossible Germany” that was absolutely divine. The solo by Nels Cline on this version was much more controlled that his past performances. Hopefully he was saving himself some neck pain this time around compared to his stunning performance in Mobile Alabama:
His solo this time was much more controlled but still rode the edges of his signature chaotic guitar sounds.
As amazing as the opening three songs were (especially finally getting to see them perform “Poor Places” live), the highlight of the evening for me was hearing their acoustic arrangement of “Spiders (Kidsmoke)” half way into the show. I have many recordings of Jeff Tweedy performing this song by himself on an acoustic guitar but I’ve never heard the band do it that way. My most memorable moment from the first time I saw them at the Edgefield in 2007 was the twenty minute version of Via Chicago and Spiders that blended together. It blew me away to hear them both stretched out and merged. Hearing Spiders so stripped down was a whole different kind of thrill in itself.
The second half of the show was a pleasant mix of old and new with songs from their latest as well as their first few albums. I personally didn’t enjoy the middle section of the encore when they played the rather obscure tracks “Just a Kid” and “Kicking Television”. Compared to the rest of the set these choices seemed out of place and a broke the flow for me. This is a minor complaint compared to the rest of the show.
The whole evening ended with the quiet sounds of “The Lonely 1″ and it was a perfect bookend to the show opening. All in all, it was a great solid show from my favorite living band. I just hope it doesn’t take them another two years to come back to town to share their art.
Setlist for Feb 8, 2012 at Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland, OR
Art Of Almost
Bull Black Nova
Can’t Stand It
War On War
Box Full Of Letters
Dawned On Me
A Shot in the ArmOuttasite (Outta Mind)
Just A Kid
The Lonely 1