Wilco Hits a Home Run

April 5th, 2010

Wilco – The Wellmont Theatre – April 3, 2010

(Photo: Autumn de Wilde)

(Photo: Autumn de Wilde)

Baseball season, the great American pastime, started this weekend. Rock and roll, that other American pastime, was also in full effect this weekend as Wilco came to The Wellmont Theatre for nine innings of killer music and raucous fun. One of their shows is the live-music equivalent of heading to the ballpark with a combination of heavy hitters, attention to the fundamentals and utter consistency. Is there a more consistent live show out there? Opening Saturday night with “Ashes of American Flags,” drummer Glenn Kotche got things going with a pounding beat that paved the way for a solid lineup. The first four batters set the tone for the game, and the band, with their fine-tuned show, delivered, following up “Ashes” with “Wilco (The Song),” “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” and a dark, tense version of “Bull Black Nova.”

Jeff Tweedy was his normal self, riffing between songs all night on New Jersey and the “Boo-yah!” that someone shouted early on. Nels Cline was electric on guitar, packing more explosive firepower into four-minute songs than would seem possible. Midway through the marathon set, after smacking “Impossible Germany” and “Poor Places” out of the park, Wilco moved to a semi-acoustic mode. The lights dimmed and the sold-out rock palace became a cozy, intimate theater again. An acoustic “Spiders (Kidsmoke)” was an interesting twist, pulling the lyrics to the forefront of the usually jam-techno vibe.

Back to full electric, the perfectly calibrated arc of the Wilco show continued, highlighting almost every album from the catalog, every mood and style in their arsenal and likely most of the requests the packed crowd could have wanted. Another night, another perfect game from Tweedy and the boys—but no lingering, because they’ve got something like 161 more of them to play. —A. Stein