Wilco at Wang Theatre Boston 9/20/2011

Last night Wilco took the stage at the sold-out Wang Theatre as part of a tour to promote their new record The Whole Love which is due out next week.

They kicked off their set with three tracks from their latest release including album opener “Art of Almost,” and what better way to grab your audience’s attention than melting their faces off and leaving them speechless after your first song?

Listening to the record I thought that the band may have a difficult time translating “Almost” to their live performances, but then I realized– they’re Wilco. Led by the vigorous pace of Nels Cline’s guitar, the band screeched through the 7 minute epic jam and that was only the beginning.

From there the band delivered a set that was heavy on new tracks along with a balanced mix of cuts from their 7 previous albums. Throughout the set there was plenty of room for Cline to show off his impressive guitar playing skills whether it was trying to blow up the speakers on “Bull Black Nova” or trying to blow up people’s minds on “Handshake Drugs,” Nels was on point. The real treat though came on his eloquent yet aggressive solo on “Impossible Germany.” Every time I see Wilco, Cline has something new up his sleeve for this one and last night wasn’t any different.

Right when you thought it was Cline’s time to steal the show, Jeff Tweedy showed why he wasn’t about to let Cline one up him on the guitar with one of my favorite Wilco tracks, “At Least That’s What You Said.” This is one of those songs that I can listen to over and over again and the live version is no different, because much like “Impossible Germany,” it evolves with each show.

While we are on the topic of musicianship, drummer Glenn Kotche may be the most underrated member of Wilco. He is the one who holds everything together through Tweedy and Cline’s shred sessions and his penchant for incorporating various percussion instruments (the occasional cowbell or gong are staples of a Wilco show) adds another layer to the band’s set. Kotche shined most on Yankee Hotel Foxtrot standouts “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” and “I’m the Man Who Loves You.”

Of course no Wilco show would be complete without a little banter from Tweedy and the crowd couldn’t help but laugh when Cline brought out his double neck guitar for “Dawned on Me” at which time Tweedy remarked, “You might catch a venereal disease from that thing.”

Classic Tweedy

What makes Wilco so special is that no matter the setlist it is hard for the crowd to be disappointed. With such a large catalog of fan favorites to choose from I wasn’t even let down when the band didn’t play the requests we submitted via the Wilco World website (“Spiders”, “Via Chicago” and of course the song that gave us our name “Sunken Treasure”).

Although they didn’t play 39 songs like they did on their last trip to Boston, no one was complaining when they ended their set with “Outta Mind (Outta Sight)” bringing the total to 20 face-melting jams on the night.

All we can do now is wait for Wilco to come back around and pray for another Solid Sound Festival at Mass MoCA this summer. In the meantime check out the setlist from last night’s show and a video from this year’s Solid Sound below.

1. Art of Almost

2. I Might

3. Black Moon

4. I Am Trying to Break Your Heart

5. One Wing

6. Bull Black Nova

7. At Least That’s What You Said

8. One Sunday Morning (Song for Jane Smiley’s Boyfriend)

9. Shouldn’t Be Ashamed

10. Whole Love

11. War on War

12. Born Alone

13. Handshake Drugs

14. Impossible Germany

15. Dawned on Me

16. A Shot in the Arm

Encore

17. The Late Greats

18. I’m the Man Who Loves You

19. Monday

20. Outta Mind (Outta Sight)

Posted on by Eric in Concert Review

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