Wilco - Hollywood Palladium - 1/24/12
See also: Our Wilco slideshow
Better than: A swimming pool full of Banana Split Dippin' Dots.
Few contemporary American bands command Wilco's critical and fan adoration. Jeff Tweedy and Co. managed to sell out the Palladium in a flash, and they have two more shows (at two different venues) in the next three days. What inspires this kind of adulation? Top-notch songwriting, musical chops honed from 20-plus years of touring and, of course, a tremendous live show.
Tweedy took the stage in a
Timothy Norris cowboy hat, denim shirt and blue jeans (two of the three pieces which make up the classic "Canadian tuxedo"). He was in cut-up mode the entire evening, which made for a pleasant contrast with his often somber lyrics. The group led off with "Art of Almost," a 7-minute mid-tempo piece with spliced percussion and buzzing electronics. The chilly atmosphere plays like a Kid A for Americans obsessed with spaceships and aliens, rather than for depressed Brits who think machines have made modern life absurd.
Wilco's newer, more abstract material served to make the brash, country- and soul-influenced pop-rock of A.M. and Being There all the more infectious in contrast. Speaking of
A.M. Being There, "I Got You (At the End of the Century)" is a ray of radio sunshine for the young and sugar-rushing. It may be a far cry from what the group is doing now that it has aged and changed personnel several times, but it incapsulates encapsulates the rock 'n' roll sprit of the eternally youthful. It also proves that, before he started his own career, Tweedy was listening to as much Cheap Trick as he was the Minutemen or Hank Williams.
The rest of the group (bassist-for-life John Stirratt, indie guitar god Nels Cline, keyboardist Mikael Jorgensen, percussionist Glenn Kotche and multi-instrumentalist Pat Sansone) shined on "Impossible Germany," from 2007's sublime Sky Blue Sky. Despite the title, the song hails from the deepest, darkest part of Middle America. It's a reverb-driven meditation that the ensemble stretched out into one of the longest jams of the evening, but it never felt strained.