Sunday, September 25, 2011

Wilco at the Wang!

I don’t have time to write a proper review of Tuesday’s Wilco show at the Wang Theatre in Boston, but I wanted an excuse to post the cool poster from the gig. This one, by Massachusetts artist (corrected) Stephen Bowman, is perfect. So obvious, in fact, it’s amazing that it hasn’t been done before. But that’s part of the beauty of creativity isn’t it, discovering the obvious that’s yet to be realized?

A few quick notes on the show:
The set featured lots of new songs, expertly performed. Maybe it came across as a bit heavy on new material to casual fans, but for those of us who have seen Wilco live many times over the years, it’s welcome to hear a generous sampling of new stuff – presuming it’s up to par, which these tunes certainly are. Of course, hearing many of the old favorites is great, too!

Since, Nick Lowe opened the show with a solo set, the headliner’s performance was limited to 20 songs, which is quite abbreviated by Wilco standards. Bandleader Jeff Tweedy even remarked that the last time the band played Boston, they played 39 songs! (“Ain’t gonna happen,” he noted wryly, adding his view that it’s better to be able to bring Lowe along for the ride than to hear that much Wilco. Many fans would disagree, but the sentiment was sincere, and we still got our money’s worth of Wilco.) Of the 20 songs the band played Tuesday, seven were from the yet-to-be-released-but-widely-previewed (on NPR and elsewhere) new CD, The Whole Love.

Standout aspect of the 90-minute performance were:
• Guitarist Nels Cline, as always, and, increasingly, multi-instrumentalist Pat Sansone.
• Tweedy channeling Neil Young during his electric guitar solo on “At Least That’s What You Said.”
• The incomparable menace of “Bull Black Nova” – talk about setting a mood with sound!
• “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” emerging as one of the “classic standouts” of Wilco’s live set.
• The rockin’ climax of “One Wing.”
• The absolutely sublime rendition of “One Sunday Morning” – an understated epic in the making.
• “Handshake Drugs” taking things even higher late in the set.
• Nels going interstellar on his jazzy, Allman-esque, Skydog flights of fancy building up to a frenetic climax on “Impossible Germany.”
• “Born Alone” sporting a nuance and aggressiveness not quite captured on the new record.

It was also interesting to hear songs from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot that were being debuted when I first saw Wilco live 10 years ago now firmly established as much-anticipated staples of the show. I wonder which of the new songs we heard this time will be the classics a decade from now? I’m sure a few of them will be.

WILCO – Wang Theatre, Boston 9/20/11

Art of Almost

I Might

Black Moon

I Am Trying to Break Your Heart

One Wing

Bull Black Nova

At Least That’s What You Said

One Sunday Morning

Shouldn’t Be Ashamed

The Whole Love

War On War

Born Alone

Handshake Drugs

Impossible Germany

Dawned On Me

A Shot in the Arm

The Late Greats

I’m The Man Who Loves You


Outtasite (Outta Mind)


  1. Hi Bill,
    Just found your review of the Wilco Boston Sept 25 show. I am the poster artist, Stephen Bowman. I am actually from Massachusetts, not Kentucky. Thanks for the nice comments about the poster.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Stephen. Sorry about the faux pas, but thanks for pointing it out. The Wilco site didn't provide any info about the tour poster artists (it should have). My own searching for an artist named Stephen Bowman suggested you were in Kentucky. There's lots of Bill Lindsay's around too, some in Kentucky, no doubt! Anyway, keep up the good work! Your Wilco reigns over Kenmore Square creation is superb ... and nicely framed in my house.