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In Which I Review Last Night’s Wilco Show

May 17, 2008

Last night was Night 2 of Wilco’s three-night stand at The Pageant. After the awesomeness that was the Radiohead show on Wednesday night, they were going to have to put on a good show just to not make me feel let down. After reading the reviews of the Thursday night show, though, I was confident that they could pull it off.

I rolled into the Pageant about halfway thought Retribution Gospel Choir’s set, which was unfortunate since I really liked what I heard of them. I love Alan Sparhawk’s voice, which doesn’t have the greatest range, but he has incredible control over it and the harmonies he produced with drummer Eric Pollard were outstanding.

After a short break between bands, Wilco took the stage and immediately started the show off on a good, if low-key, note with “Via Chicago” (make of that choice what you will…). The crowd response was great and only built when they next went into “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart”.

Throughout the whole set, the band seemed loose and seemed to genuinely be enjoying themselves onstage. Tweedy was quite talkative, asking how many people had been there the night before (before noting that they hadn’t played the next song, “Kamera”, at that show), mentioning his dad and calling out every little Illinois-side town he could think of (before “Casino Queen”), and repeatedly interacting with a (drunk?) girl that apparently had a tendency to invade the space of those around her as she danced. The same girl also was not shy at all about shouting her love for multi-instrumentalist Pat Sansone, who on this night was looking straight our of 1965 mod London (Tweedy, regarding the girl’s love of Pat: “Well this has never happened before…”).

Nels Cline might be one of the most entertaining people to watch in music right now. Not only is he an incredible and innovative player, he just exudes energy and excitement when playing, even when he’s playing the lap steel. He added so much to songs like “Muzzle of Bees”, “Handshake Drugs”, “Spiders (Kidsmoke)” and “Impossible Germany”.

The six gentlemen of Wilco are masters at structuring a setlist, as the flow of the show was perfect and many of the some pairings were sublime. The one-two punch of “Jesus, Etc” into “Impossible Germany” was, along with the slow-burn groove of “Handshake Drugs”, one the highlights of my evening.

I expect two encores from Wilco, but the third encore was a real treat, especially since I wouldn’t have been entirely happy if they had ended the show on “Hoodoo Voodoo”.

I don’t now how Thursday night could have been better, as this was one of my favorite Wilco shows yet (out of about 10). Those of you that were there both nights – how did the two compare?

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