Saturday, May 03, 2008

Wilco - May3, 2008 - Burton Cummings Theatre

Wilco May 2, 2008 Burton Cummings Theatre

This was my third time seeing the band, each time up close, confirming my view that they are one of the best live bands that I've ever seen.
Photo courtesy of Kathryn Yu.

They are not a pop band, and they are very entertaining when they play extended jams. In this sense, they are a bit like Los Lobos and other
bands that have longevity based on the fact that they can really play. Your typical pop artist will be popular so long as they have hits. Wilco have up to three guitar players. Lead singer Jeff Tweedy plays rhythm and occaisionally lead guitar, ditto for keyboardist Pat Sansome. Virtuoso lead guitar player Nels Cline is the newest and oldest Wilco member and is a bonafide star in his own right. He's like an erupting volcano with the music twisting his body as it finally emerges out of his fingers and onto the strings. He was spellbinding. After receiving an avalanche of applause for playing an incredible extended solo, he just kept right on soloing, causing some folks at the front of the stage to become absolutely transfixed with awe.

Wilco's live shows have everything from quiet, slow material to thrashing, intense rock, all played with attention paid to craft and intensity. Tweedy spoke and joked around with the audience, calling some of them douche bags as they were rocking out to quiet songs. He threatened to call his lawyers to check out three teens who were apparently wearing home-made unofficial Wilco t-shirts.

A photographer from the Free Press suddenly appeared beside me at the front of stage, early in Wilco's set. He apologized and I promptly gave him some elbow room, knowing that he would only be there for a short period of time. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw this short woman and her equally short male companion muscle their way towards the front. She actually confronted the photographer about what is doing blocking her view when she paid money to attend the show, etc. He replied that he would be leaving in five minutes. As soon as he was finished, he turned around and gave her a nod and she zipped into the place where he was, elbowing this teen who was leaning on the front of the stage and who expected to reclaim the room she vacated for the photographer. The short woman got into a brief argument with this poor teen, causing the teen to politely mention twice that she was there first. I have two thoughts about this. It's a concert and if you choose to leave your seat to stand at the front, you may or may not get a good view. On the other hand, I totally expect people to move around to get a better view. I've had my view obscured by taller people before so I know the feeling that she must have had. But I wouldn't elbow my way around and not apologize for upsetting anyone I bumped into who became visibly upset. If you sitting in the first few rows at the Burt and people stand up at the front of the stage, your view may be blocked. I have been to some shows there where everyone sat down, allowing good views for all, but such behavior isn't likely at a rock show, and a crowd at the front makes the show look a bit more exciting.

I have to commend these guys for playing for 2 hours and almost 15 minutes, including a 2-3 minute break between sets.

Openers Retribution Gospel Choir are not a choir but a indie rock power trio, if I can describe them that way. The lead singer plays a mean guitar and he drew a small crowd of teens and twenty-somethings to the front of the stage, about 30 minutes into the show. I think I will check them out.

Wilco's last two studio albums have been somewhat mellow, but live, these guys are exciting.

You Are My Face
Company In My Back
Impossible Germany
Handshake Drugs
Jesus Etc.
Pot Kettle Black
Shot In The Arm
She's A Jar
Side With The Seeds
Shake It Off
One By One
That's Not The Issue
Via Chicago
I'm The Man Who Loves You
Poor Places

Christ For President
Hate It Here
Heavy Metal Drummer
Red-Eyed And Blue
I Got You
Casino Queen
Outtasite (Outta Mind)

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