Mar 19, 2008

Wilco @ Enmore Theatre

There are certain inevitable facts in life. The sky is blue. The grass is green. Nickelback are terrible. That sort of thing. Well, please add to the list this fact. Wilco are always, always great live. This should not come as a surprise as they are truly one of the great bands of the world. An act of supreme quality. One that always delivers. Big time. Last night at Sydney's Enmore Theatre they played the first show of their latest Australian sojourn and they were absolutely superb. A little under 11 months ago they played the very same venue and damn it, I think they were even better last night. In this quite unique year of live music in Sydney, Wilco showed that their live show is as good as anyone else's. Without question, no doubt.

To say this show started perfectly would be an understatement. I was hoping madly for "Sunken Treasure" and they opened with it. Basically just Jeff on acoustic, it was sublime. Startling. Delirious and beautiful. My heart was beating hard. I loved that they opened with a subdued threesome too. The wonderful "Reservations" and the touching "Remember The Mountain Bed" followed. Bliss was cascading through the venue, reaching out and smothering our hearts. Then to remind us all that they are a rock band, they then opened up and let loose the guitars. This reached its climax on "Handshake Drugs", which blistered and then caught fire. By now the place was rocking, hard, and Wilco had us in the palms of their hands. Highlights flowed easily. "A Shot In The Arm" was a call to loosen the vocal chords, whilst "Via Chicago"'s mournful tones resonated strongly. If the heat could be turned up a notch, it occurred during "Impossible Germany" which turned into an orgasmic fury of guitar. Nels Cline quite possibly made his guitar catch fire as he played with an almost maniacal zeal on the side of the stage. I loved how the band jammed on one side, whilst Cline did his thing. Now seems a good time to mention the band. They are quite extraordinary. Professional to the extreme, they never miss a beat, playing with true passion and fire. They also seemed to be having a ball. After all these years, I find it refreshing that they still play with such joy and wonder. As mentioned, Nels Cline is a wonder on electric and slide guitar, adding something special to each and every song. Glenn Kotche was a whirlwind on drums, his long hair becoming a sweaty mess soon after the start, whilst John Stirratt is forever the bedrock, his steady bass and harmonies providing the required touches thoroughly. The surprise though was Pat Sansone. I think last night his inner rock god was unleashed. When he stepped out from behind his keyboards he attacked his guitar with extreme fervour, providing every manner of rockist pose. A sheer delight.

Then there is Mr Jeff Tweedy. What more can one add. His voice has such earthy texture. It is universal and timeless, a voice of everyman and for everyman. His guitar playing, probably under rated, was stunning again. Whether on acoustic or electric, he plucked and strummed with great skill, evoking every required note. He was also his usual humorous self. He seemed to be in a good mood too, complimenting the audience on their attentiveness and conversely ignoring requests as he struggled to understand a single word anyone was yelling out. I loved how he pronounced Bondi (more like Bondy) and like seemingly every international visitor he is fascinated by our Flying Foxes. Also, he seemed a bit heftier. I don't know if it was the denim jacket he was sporting, but I think he has been in a good paddock.

Back to the night. It was a pleasant surprise to hear so much early stuff. Two songs off "AM", including John Stirratt taking lead vocals on "It's Just That Simple" were sheer delight. If your face wasn't aching from smiling by the time "Jesus, Etc." came then I would seriously doubt you were at the same show. Then a storming "I'm The Man Who Loves You" was the perfect closer. But this is a Wilco show, so there is always more. And there was, the set lasted for over two hours. The encore seriously rocked. "Heavy Metal Drummer" and "The Late Greats" had the whole crowd humming and dancing, before they launched into a four song closer from "Being There". These songs were basically jammed into one another, providing a fusion of power and ecstasy. Although surely played a million times, they sounded as fresh as ever. Then it was over, we all hoped for a second encore, but who can complain. Witnessing one of the truly great world bands play with such skill and passion was a wonder to behold. Complete satisfaction guaranteed.

Set List
Sunken Treasure
Remember The Mountain Bed
Company In My Back
You Are My Face
Hell Is Chrome
Handshake Drugs
Pot Kettle Black
A Shot In The Arm
Side With The Seeds
Via Chicago
Impossible Germany
It's Just That Simple
Pick Up The Change
Nothing'severgonnastandinmyway (Again)
Jesus, Etc.
I'm The Man Who Loves You

Hate It Here
Heavy Metal Drummer
The Late Greats
Red-Eyed And Blue
I Got You (At The End Of The Century)
Outtasite (Outta Mind)

Support act Bridezilla confirmed one thing for me. They are one of this country's most exciting and original acts. A some what surprising choice for the support, I hope they won over the audience with their considerable skill and passion. Playing a couple of new songs, I always enjoy the maelstrom they seem to concoct on stage. If I could offer one piece of advice, maybe it would be nice to say a few more words, especially thanking Wilco for the support slot.

I have some more shots of the night at Flickr.


  • At March 19, 2008 , Anonymous mick said...

    was great. bridezilla were definitly an odd choice but im glad they were there, the enmore suits them perfectly. the drums sounded incredible especially.

    Nels ripping out the solo from side with the seeds has to be one of the most ridiculous things i have ever seen.

  • At March 19, 2008 , Blogger Nik said...

    Great review, you've got me drooling in my lap until I get to see 'em myself Sunday in Auckland.

  • At March 19, 2008 , Anonymous Ad said...

    Nice review. They sure gave you a great set. I am green with envy (as it always seems I am when I visit ONL). I would have loved to have seen 'Impossible Germany' live, that's possibly my all time favourite Wilco tune. I can only imagine how cool that jam at the end sounded.

  • At March 25, 2008 , Blogger Nick said...

    Now I can't wait to see them tomorrow. I can't believe they didn't play Trying to Break Your Heart though....

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