9.April.2010 - Hartford

by Zach Schonfeld

22 April 2010

Wilco pulled out one of their classic, epic, three-hour sets in Hartford, CT.

Wilco (The Band) has run the gamut through an extensive range of identities on record: from alt-country heroes to conspicuously anti-commercial sonic manipulators and back again, sort of, to upbeat dad rockers. That they can do each distinct musical character justice in concert is impressive. That they can manage to weave each segment of their discography into one cogent, if sprawling, three-hour set with success is something more. They did precisely that the other week in Hartford.
The band’s marathon 36-track set list seemed fashioned from three loosely defined mini-sets: the first steeped in noisy, electric catharsis (extended soloing on “Bull Black Nova”, “You Are My Face”, and “One Wing” led the hour, as well as Yankee Hotel Foxtrot highlights “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart” and “Ashes of American Flags”); the second an intimate Wilco Unplugged hour (see: “Poor Places”, “Either Way”, “You and I”, and a particularly harrowing “Sunken Treasure”); and the third a breezy roots-rock-driven grab-bag seamlessly interspersing recent material with A.M. cuts.

But there were surprises along the way, too: an acoustic rendering of “Spiders (Kidsmoke)”, lost YHF outtake “A Magazine Called Sunset”, and a rowdy take on Big Star’s “Thank You Friends”.  Whether singing happy birthday to a drum technician or bashing a theater usher for being disruptive, frontman Jeff Tweedy remained both cordial and cantankerous throughout.  But it was Nels Cline who, again, revealed himself as the real unsung hero of a Wilco performance.  His soloing was always textured and soulful, and his accompaniments continually captured Yankee Hotel Foxtrot’s chaotic abandon and Sky Blue Sky’s sunny classic rock spirit with equal fervor. 

My only sincere qualm? Lose the “Jesus, Etc.” sing-along.  Talk is cheap, but so is karaoke.  This one deserves better.


Wilco (The Song)
I Am Trying To Break Your Heart
Ashes of American Flags
Bull Black Nova
You Are My Face
One Wing
Shot in the Arm
One By One
Either Way
Handshake Drugs
Deeper Down
Impossible Germany
California Stars
Poor Places
Spiders (Kidsmoke)
Sky Blue Sky
That’s Not The Issue
You and I
Forget the Flowers
Sunken Treasures
War on War
Passenger Side
Airline to Heaven
Via Chicago
Box Full of Letters
I’m Always In Love
A Magazine Called Sunset
Jesus, etc.
You Never Know
Hate It Here
Heavy Metal Drummer
I’m The Man That Loves You

Thank You Friends (Big Star cover)

Hoodoo Voodoo
I’m A Wheel

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