2002’s ‘Yankee Hotel Foxtrot’ was the album that got me interested with Wilco. Hearing ‘War on War’ for the first time is as vivid memory as any of my big, life changing events.
Last evening’s concert will be the event that turns me from an intense interest in Wilco to a rabid obsession.
Every member of the band is amazing. Along with Tweedy and Stirratt’s pedigree, Nels Cline and Glenn Kotche are both admired and respected in their fields – both for their work outside Wilco (Cline once playing with Sonic Youth), as much as for their work with the band.
Seeing Wilco play live makes apparent the fusion the band has together (the current line up sees the above four joined by multi-instrumentalists Pat Sansone and Mikael Jorgensen) – such a tight display is testament to their hectic touring schedule and the fun they obviously have together. Without a doubt, Tweedy is the ‘reluctant’ frontman, but everyone in the band shows why they are there; Cline with his amazing solos and slide work (all lifted perfectly from the respective albums), Stirratt for his versatile bass and vocals (a perfect foil to Tweedy’s raspy pipes), Sanson and Jorgensen’s subtle additions to the colour of each track, Kotche’s unbelievable groove.
As you want from a band with 13 years material (and four grammy nominations), a wide range of their catalogue was covered; songs that I already loved (‘Jesus. Etc’ and ‘Hell Is Chrome’ especially) sounded amazing, while the ones I ‘kind of liked’ (‘Hummingbird’, ‘Monday’ and ‘The Late Greats’) sounded incredible.
Wilco seems to be that kind of band. For the most part, their sound is not one to get someone interested straight away (though luckily for me, ‘War on War’ is one track that bucks this trend)- their music is too complex and meticulous to appreciate with a solitary listen – but with Tweedy hitting every note with near perfection, and the band chugging along behind him, you would have to be deaf not to be amazed and converted (and even then, if you could see Kotche, you would still be amazed!).
Easily the best of the three bands I saw this weekend, and in my mind, the best to play in Wellington in an age (Tweedy cracking a joke at aging rockers only exemplified the point). As far as I can remember, this concert is the best I have seen.