Saw Wilco play Merriweather last night. A fine time, at least as much due to the company as to the music. I've seen Wilco at least four times in the last seven years, with at least three different lineups, and my impression is always the same: They're a great band, but seeing them perform live is not essential to the task of getting them the way it is for most musicians that I love. They never dissapoint. They just never blow me away. And that continues to surprise me, because, the snoozy Sky Blue Sky aside, Jeff Tweedy is a fine a songwriter as anyone of his generation. (He's also quick as a rattlesnake with a left jab, and with an explanation, too.) And he always believes in what he's doing, which is an admirable thing. Last night's 25-song set included only five from the 20th century; only two from before 1999's summerteeth. The band played two-thirds of Sky Blue Sky and surprisingly, just as much of yankee hotel foxtrot (seven of 11), which is what they were touring the last time I saw them, probably in 2002. (The fact that my usually-infallible concert memory is hazy where Wilco gigs are concerned is telling in itself.) The Sky Blue Sky tracks seem to get a pretty favorable crowd response (and even the folks on the lawn, where I was, stood for the entire show), so maybe the vox populi does not share my tepid record for the album Tweedy said he made so his wife would could hear him sing a few nice songs for a change.
The set, since I bothered to write it down:
01 A Shot in the Arm 02 Side with the Seeds 03 You Are My Face 04 I Am Trying to Break Your Heart 05 Kamera 06 Handshake Drugs 07 Via Chicago 08 Shake It Off 09 War on War 10 Sky Blue Sky 11 Impossible Germany 12 Jesus, Etc. 13 Hate It Here 14 Walken 15 I'm the Man Who Loves You 16 Hummingbird ENCORE 17 California Stars 18 Poor Places 19 Spiders (Kidsmoke) ENCORE 20 Heavy Metal Drummer 21 The Late Greats 22 I'm Always in Love 23 Outtamind (outtasite) 24 I'm a Wheel ENCORE 25 What Light
I've no idea why Tweedy decided to leave things on that odd note. It was 10:55, and the band had gone on at quarter 'til nine, but I'm guessing Merriweather's curfew is 11 p.m., which would have left time for one more. I thought he'd close with "Sunken Treasure," but I was hoping for a wack-ass cover ("Don't Fear the Reaper," anyone?) if not a complete curveball like, say, "Remember the Mountain Bed." But noooooooooooooooooooo.