photos by Matt Ziegler, words by Zach Pollack
"Thank you for having us here, whoever is responsible for that," said Tweedy. "It's good to be home, we'll catch up later... oh lord have we seen some stuff."
As he's being doing for a number of weeks, musician/producer/legend Nick Lowe played an engaging opening set (of music and jokes). "As Tom Waits once said, being an opening act is quite like being a rectal thermometer; it's up to you to take the temperature of the audience," he cracked during his set that included a cover of Elvis Costello's "Allison" (that he produced) and "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding" (that he wrote, but was popularized by Costello). He recalled the times he spent in Chicago with his band Rockpile (active 1976 - 1981), and proceeded to play "When I Write The Book" from their 1980 LP Seconds of Pleasure. Both Lowe's swagger and mark on popular culture is undeniable.
Wilco took the stage around 8:45PM to a raucous hometown crowd of over 3,500-people. The band kicked things off with the 12-minute track "One Sunday Morning (Song for Jane Smiley's Boyfriend)" from their recently released album The Whole Love. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot's "Poor Places" came next, followed by an excellent version of "Art Of Almost." With psychedelic color splashes of light behind him, guitarist Nels Cline got downright evil on the track. A few songs later, during "Misunderstood," misunderstood frontman Jeff Tweedy screamed its refrain "nothing" 32-times (according to photographer Matt Ziegler who counted). Fan-favorite "I Am Trying To Break Your Heart" followed while security searched for the people lighting up in the old opera house .
Cline ripped out the tasteful solo in "Impossible Germany" (one of my personal favorites), but in a way ten-times more twisted and demonic than on Blue Sky Noise. Tweedy blurted out "We're at the opera, these are all opera songs... Isn't that what they're called? Oh, it's 'arias,' yeah okay." Other arias of the evening included "Jesus, Etc" ("a song you may have heard of"), "Capital City", "War on War" (when things started to pick back up), "Box Full of Letters," "Pot Kettle Black," "Dawned on Me," and "A Shot in the Arm" which came before the band left the stage pre-encore.
Wilco's 5-song encore included snow falling on the stage (Tweedy asked if "anyone checked the forecast") and hit single "Outtasite (Outta Mind)." For a second encore, they returned to the stage with Nick Lowe to help him perform Nick's hit "Cruel To Be Kind." "We asked our hero Nick Lowe to join our band... we're going to rename it 'Wilc-lowe'." The biggest surprise of the evening came in the form of the great Mavis Staples (who Tweedy produced an album for last year). She joined them to perform the title track from her album, "You're Not Alone", and for an everyone-on-stage epic show ending cover of "The Weight." 27-songs later, night one of Wilco week came to a close.
Things continue tonight at The Riv. More pictures and the setlist from last night, below...
Wilco - 12/12 Civic Opera House Setlist:
One Sunday Morning (Song for Jane Smiley's Boyfriend)
Art of Almost
I Am Trying to Break Your Heart
Rising Red Lung
Far, Far Away
War on War
Box Full of Letters
Pot Kettle Black
Dawned on Me
A Shot in the Arm
Heavy Metal Drummer
I'm the Man Who Loves You
Outtasite (Outta Mind)
Cruel to Be Kind (Nick Lowe joined)
You're Not Alone (Mavis Staples joined)
The Weight (with Staples and Lowe)