Monday, April 5, 2010

Wilco @The Wellmont Theatre, Apr. 3rd

Saturday night started off with a bump when halfway to meeting Wawa, I realized I left our tickets sitting on my coffee table back at home. What a rookie mistake -- shows you how out of sorts I am with going to concerts with this crazy early work schedule that usually puts me in bed by 10pm most nights. Oy. But we still managed to walk into the doors and find Artie on the floor just before the lights dimmed. As annoying a shlep it might have been to get out to Montclair, and as much as this show furthered my sleep-deprivation, tonight's Wilco show was so worth it.

(More words and pics after the jump.)
We knew that there'd be no opener and that the band would be hitting the stage around 8:15. And for 3 glorious hours they played 37(!) songs. They had a nicely balanced setlist that spanned all their albums, including a whopping six songs off of Summerteeth (including "Candyfloss"), and four off of Being There (including "Dreamer in My Dreams," and "Outtasite (Outta Mind)" and "Outta Mind (Outta Sight)").

For me, the highlight of the concert occurred in the middle of the main set -- a stellar acoustic portion of eight songs, which gave new blood to concert standards like "Spiders (Kidsmoke)." I was particularly amused by lead guitarist Nels Cline, who still managed to coax out some of his manic playing despite being unplugged. They also threw in a seldom-heard Loose Fur nugget ("Laminated Cat"). It was also nice hearing them finish the main set with a tribute to Alex Chilton by covering "Thank You Friends" and "In the Street" by Big Star.

Despite the length of the show, the energy remained intact for the duration, with an enthusiastic crowd that ate up all of Tweedy's banter. We even gleefully sang the first half of "Jesus, Etc." before he jumped in to rescue us. This show completely erased my memory of the last time we came to Jersey to see Wilco, and I managed to leave without feeling the usual sense of self-loathing that comes with being a native. Plus, the Wellmont Theatre seems to be a very nice facility, acoustically speaking, provided you have the wheels to get you there.

Saturday night demonstrated how polished Wilco's game is now. For them to do this mini-tour and consistently play at least 35 songs each gig (with a good number of changes -- supposedly around 60 different songs over two nights in Montclair) is no small feat. As Wawa put it, they've evolved into a true rock band. I do wonder how long these boys can keep it going, especially after having recently watched the documentary "Ashes of American Flags" in which several members described how physically taxing each performance is. Wilco most definitely remains on my list of bands to revisit again and again.

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