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Wilco at the Arlington Theatre

Paul Wellman

Wilco at the Arlington Theatre


Wilco at the Arlington Theatre

The Chicagoans Played a Two-Hour-Long Set on Friday, February 10


Popularity should never gauge the caliber of a concert, but last week, Wilco proved just why they can sell out a 2,000-seat venue in a span of minutes. The Chicago folk rockers—and we use the term lightly—took to the stage without so much as a “hello” on Friday night, chugging through “Reservations,” “Art of Almost,” and “I Might” before crossing the banter bridge. Fittingly, it was “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” that finally brought frontman Jeff Tweedy out of his shell. Sonically, the song mixed Wilco’s twangier qualities with their precision-like ability to jam out, and after it was over, Tweedy sweetly guffawed his impending Grammy nod, encouraging folks not to watch, as the band’s category would not make the live broadcast cut.

Wilco at the Arlington Theatre
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman

Wilco at the Arlington Theatre

Throughout the night, Tweedy offered modest asides to the crowd, as if to break up the chugging musical onslaught that he and his bandmates were putting forth. Among the highlights, “Impossible Germany” rang out the loudest, moving from a gentle, melodic, and vocal-heavy exercise for Tweedy to a psychedelic mélange of guitar noise, galloping drum work, and dueling keyboards and organs. It also stood as a prime example of Nels Cline’s dizzying fretwork, and his undeniable status as one of this era’s great guitar heroes.

Wilco at the Arlington Theatre
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman

Wilco at the Arlington Theatre

Still, that was only a fraction of Friday’s 25-track offering, which featured catalog cuts as glorious and wide-ranging as “Capitol City,” “Handshake Drugs,” “I’m the Man Who Loves You,” and raucous night-ender “Hoodoo Voodoo,” which featured a guest appearance by a shirtless and shaker-wielding White Denim. It was a lengthy, but never lulling, affair, and an affirming testament to the state of popular music as we know it. n

By Paul Wellman

Wilco at the Arlington Theatre

Setlist:

01 - Reservations

02 - Art of Almost

03 - I Might

04 - I Am Trying to Break Your Heart

05 - One Wing

06 - She’s a Jar

07 - Impossible Germany

08 - Born Alone

09 - One By One

10 - California Stars

11 - Capitol City

12 - Handshake Drugs

13 - Box Full of Letters

14 - Heavy Metal Drummer

15 - I’m the Man Who Loves You

16 - Standing O

17 - Misunderstood

18 - Dawned On Me

19 - Shot in the Arm

Encore:

20 - Whole Love

21 - Hate It Here

22 - Red-Eyed and Blue

23 - I Got You (At the End of the Century)

24 - Outtasite (Outta Mind)

25 - Hoodoo Voodoo

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