In this review of Wilco's performance at Seattle's Paramount Theatre Tuesday, Feb. 7, Tom Keogh reports that the band came across in the grand tradition of "bonding with faithful," delivering a special concert that had even lead singer Jeff Tweedy applauding the band's guitarist, Nels Cline.
Concert Review |
For the two hours veteran rock ‘n’ roll band Wilco was on stage at the Paramount Tuesday night, it was a seemingly unstoppable force of power-pop brilliance married to avant-garde leanings and a deep well of folk-rock legacy.
Imagine vintage Elvis Costello and the Attractions mixing it up with the Velvet Underground’s John Cale and the Byrds’ Roger McGuinn — then add orchestral breadth, ferocious inventiveness and a willingness to push daring arrangements to a breaking point — and you get an idea.
In other words, the nearly two-decades-old Wilco, whose current, six-member lineup has lasted eight years, sounded like its collective history, from an early reputation as alternative country through the dazzling sonic stretch of its 2002 album “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” to the assured, stylistic variety on its 2011 release “The Whole Love.”
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Frontman and singer-songwriter Jeff Tweedy and the rest of Wilco offered a long set of old and new music, presented in the best concert tradition of ritually bonding with the faithful — and there were plenty of Wilco superfans in attendance.
The show began with a suite of some of Wilco’s most experimental and even challenging material, including the long “One Sunday Morning (Song for Jane Smiley’s Boyfriend).”
John Stirrat’s fluid, understated bass, Mikael Jorgensen’s elegance and honky-tonk accents on piano, and Tweedy’s wintry, deep vocal gradually dissolved into a widening, delicate mist. By the time the psychedelic-flavored “Art of Almost” finished, however, it was time to bask in major pop hooks.
Indeed, the show’s glory was its endless stream of Tweedy’s simple melodies wrapped in dense arrangements, hypnotic rhythms (drummer Glenn Kotche has a touch of the shaman in him), the string filigrees of multi-instrumentalist Pat Sansone and the barbed poetry of guitarist Nels Cline.
There are moments in some concerts where you can feel everything lift from good to great. On Tuesday, that moment came when Cline completed the spectacular, heart-rending solo that upends the lulling sweetness of “Impossible Germany.” Tweedy stopped and applauded — not only for his guitarist, but to acknowledge, with the crowd, that the show had just turned a corner to something special.
Tom Keogh: firstname.lastname@example.org.