Let’s start this review by stating the obvious, I really like Wilco. The last (and first) time I saw them was in a minor league baseball stadium in Wilmington, DE. It was an excellent show, but it felt a little disconnected since it was such a big outdoor venue. When I received word about a show at the Electric Factory I jumped at the tickets. Normally I start a concert review with my thoughts on the opening act, but Wilco did not having an opener. Did I mention how much I love this band?
We attempted to get seats in the upper section of the Electric Factory but it was packed. On my way down I saw the security officer from my Cranberries review. We exchanged pleasantries and I went off to find a suitable place to stand. We found a nice spot off to the side next to another staircase.
Tweedy and company went on stage at 8:30 PM. No chatty introductions, just a quick hello and down to to the rock. They opened with “Wilco (the song)” and it became clear in those opening moments that while Wilco is Jeff Tweedy’s band, Nels Cline has become the whole show. Tweedy is certainly no slouch, churning out tune after tune (we left at the three hour mark), but Nels Cline was a sound monster the entire night.
After the third or fourth song, an older gentlemen in a red sweater and tan hat start to smoke up (weed) right on the staircase that we were all standing next to. I was kinda shocked he wasn’t trying to hide in the crowd a bit more; he was out in the open with his cheap skunk weed (and security was most definitely in force last night). The pot head was not the issue but I decided to call him “original sin” because as soon as that smoke hit the air, every degenerate loser in the place converged on the staircase next to us. A small group of middle aged women (that I am convinced didn’t even know the band) talked the entire night. Tweedy (politely) told the crowd to be quiet a few times, these women didn’t take the hint.
The band played just about every song I could think of including material from “Mermaid Ave” I love the current line up’s reinterpretation of older material (with Cline and drummer Glenn Kotche) as it sounds infinitely better: tighter, better fills, and of course more practiced.
At the 90 minute mark, the stage crew came out (with Wilco not taking a break) and added some lamps and mood lighting. The show shifted to softer, acoustically driven material. This is when the situation with the talking ladies came to a boiling point. One of the members of my group politely asked them to listen to the music and they balked. After some words exchanged, the loud mouths finally stifled themselves and we really set into a nice undisturbed grove. Going into the evening, I was secretly hoping they would play “Airline to Heaven” which I have heard only live tracks and I really like the work that Cline does on slide guitar. As we entered 150 minute mark, I didn’t think it was going to happen (because the music start to pick up the pace), but then “There’s an airline plane…” – I was now satisfied.
As I mentioned, at the three hour mark, we decided to go. I heard every song I wanted to hear and then some. The band sounded unbelievably great. I also want to mention Pat Sansone who is Wilco’s other guitarist and while he may be overshadowed by Cline, he is a tremendous guitar and keyboard player, I was watching this guy all night and he was working his ass off. If you haven’t seen the band play live via concert or the multitude of DVD’s that are available, you don’t know this band. I would tell you to go out and get tickets, but they are probably sold out. Go buy this