Last week was Wilco’s homecoming, the capstone to their North American tour if you will. The two Chicago shows were the first shows the band had played here since the release of their latest,Wilco (the album). They were also the climax of their US tour and nothing short of epic.
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Back in early March, I saw The Airborne Toxic Event perform at the Mod Club in Toronto. Despite being flu-stricken, lead singer Mikel Jollett sang his heart out. I remember later reading that the band had cancelled multiple dates prior to the show and that Jollett had vehemently refused recommendations from his doctor to cancel the Toronto gig on the grounds that Toronto simply wasn’t a city you cancelled over the flu. I also remember thinking to myself that he didn’t seem that sick to me because the show was so good.
Time is definitely on Ian McCulloch’s side. Even at 50 years of age, the front man of 80’s post-punk sensation Echo & The Bunnymen didn’t look a bit out of place on stage with a microphone in hand. In front of a respectable turnout at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, McCulloch addressed the crowd wearing his trademark shades, announcing it was good to be back in Canada. “I like it colder” he stated. “Can you make it colder?”
Three time Grammy Award singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams dazzled Chicago fans over the course of three nights at the Park West in Lincoln Park. Each concert celebrated Williams’ 30-year musical career, highlighting a specific period of work each night. The first night covered 1979 to 1989, the second 1992 to 2001, and the third installment relayed 2003 to the present.
The Vancouver two-piece, Japandroids, did not put on much of a show in Philadelphia. The whole experience felt like being stuck in some sad version of Limp Bizkit’s “Break Stuff” video. But these guys were singing about French-kissing French girls and getting drunk in the basement, rather than breaking a human face. I’ll gladly take the former over the latter, but that’s not much of a compliment. It was also pretty upsetting to see these guys almost break down on a tour that does not seem to be going their way. I was one of the eight lonely guys in the so-called mosh pit trying my best to love it. In fact the show itself was an exercise in save-the-show CPR for one man in attendance. It only took one swell young George-Michael look-alike Starbucks barista dude up front to save the night. He single-handedly kept the band going with his ebullience. Whatta man, whatta man, whatta mighty good man…