Wilco: 9.April.2010 - Hartford

Zach Schonfeld

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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