No “Shot in the Arm” needed; Wilco at the 9:30 Club
It looks like Wilco may finally be ready to settle down—for now, at least. The latest incarnation of the band has been together for over three years and with Sky Blue Sky last year, Wilco decided to forgo their constant experimentation in favor of a straightforward though enjoyable folk/rock record. On Tuesday night at the 9:30 Club, Wilco’s comfort with their current situation shone through. Jeff Tweedy and Co., dressed in black button-downs (Tweedy added a tan cowboy hat to the ensemble), hit all the right notes as they made their way through the better part of Sky Blue Sky, along with twenty songs from older albums.
Tweedy calmly jigged about on stage, even during upbeat numbers as Nels Cline wildly wielded his guitar, looking like a man who has nothing to prove. When an audience member handed him a fake Grammy statue during a break between songs, his first reaction was to bite it (“making sure it’s not food,” he said). “Thanks for the Grammy,” he added. “We already decided we didn’t want one.” (Tweedy should have said “another one”; A Ghost is Born, released in 2005, won two Grammys.)
Critics who felt Sky Blue Sky lacked the innovation of earlier Wilco albums are right, but its simplicity showcases the sincerity of Tweedy’s songwriting. During “Side with the Seeds,” Tweedy looked as vulnerable and as his lyrics as he sang, “Well I’ll side with you … if you’ll side with me,” holding his hat to his heart and staring straight into the audience.
Not that he has to ask; Wilco has already built up a devoted following throughout the years that was in full force last night. The crowd requested obscure B-sides and sang along with older songs like “Summerteeth,” “War on War,” and “I Got You (At the End of the Century)”. Wilco’s popularity isn’t just confined to hardcore fans, either; they postponed their Feb. 29 show in Charleston, South Carolina to be able to perform on Saturday Night Live.
Wilco’s energy was present last night too, especially whenever one of Tweedy’s delicate songs would deconstruct into cacophonous turmoil, Cline’s riffs skidding over the noise of the band. But in some ways, the band was more toned down than usual. In previous shows in which that Wilco played “Misunderstood”, Tweedy would sing “I’d like to thank you all for nothing” and repeat “Nothing!” longer than seemed possible, the band stuck in a loop behind him. Last night, Tweedy chose a more hopeful refrain to pick up on: “We can make it better” from “Is That the Thanks I Get?” When the song ended, Tweedy made the political statement of the night, adding “The last section of that song is known as the Obama fight song.”
Wilco plays again tonight at the 9:30 Club. Good luck getting a ticket if you don’t already have one, though if you have a lot of spare cash lying around, this might be a good place to look.
You can check out Wilco’s almost complete setlist after the jump (it’s missing a few songs towards the end).
Was I In Your Dreams?
Blood of the Lamb
You Are My Face
Pot Kettle Black
Shot in the Arm
Side with the Seeds
Sky Blue Sky
Too Far Apart
I’m the Man Who Loves You
Magazine Called Sunset
Red-eyed and Blue
I Got You (At the End of the Century)
Hate It Here
Can’t Stand It
Is That the Thanks I Get?
Just a Kid
War on War
Heavy Metal Drummer
Photos by Sam Sweeney, Blog Editor