Concert Review | A weird, wonderful night with Wilco

***** (5 stars out of 6); February 28 at Falconer Salen

There’s something about Wilco’s music that is not only quintessentially American, but Midwestern. A bit surreal then for this Iowa boy to see his former Chicago ‘neighbours’ at Frederiksberg’s Falconer Salen, especially given that this was a seated concert.

Once the lights dimmed, however, and Jeff Tweedy and company came out to the simple but elegant lampshade-infused stage, their music largely transcended time and place.

Opening the show with the 12-minute subtle number ‘One Sunday Morning’ from 2011’s The Whole Love was a bold but effective choice for the band. The sombre theme of a conflicted relationship between father and son suited the theatre-like setting of the evening perfectly and settled the appreciative crowd deep into their seats. When it was followed by the equally down-trodden ‘Poor Places’, one was almost lulled into the sense that this was going to be one very low-key evening.

Luckily, all of that changed when the band tore into the lush and experimental ‘Art of Almost’ followed by the poppy, up-beat ‘I Might’ – the opening one-two combo off The Whole Love.

The pace and energy continued to build during ‘Bull Black Nova’ – an unexpected highlight of the night – and an inspired version of ‘Spiders (Kidsmoke)’ before taking a turn back to the surreal.

Up until this point letting the music speak for itself, the notoriously chatty Tweedy finally addressed the crowd, asking if “something weird” had just happened when it appeared that a young man had been escorted out of the show just in front of the stage. Encouraging the guy in question to “settle down”, Tweedy and band continued on with a romping version of ‘Impossible Germany’ that included a scene-stealing shredding guitar solo from Nels Cline.

The easy-going vibe of the concert’s opening was firmly put to bed, but the weirdness would live on.

A few songs on, another man in the audience – perhaps put off by the seated arrangement – shouted out that he wanted to dance to Wilco.

“You want to dance?” Tweedy responded. “What exactly are we doing to stop you? Well, besides playing Wilco songs?”

He then warned that, looking at the playlist, it wouldn’t be a particularly good time for dancing. And he was right. The concert hit a bit of a lull before being revived by the sing-along friendly ‘Jesus, Etc’ and then moving on to the strangest, most entertaining crowd interaction yet.

Saying that early in the show he heard someone yell out: “F**k you, Tweedy”, Wilco’s frontman asked the audience if they were sure everything was okay. The offending concert-goer responded that he had actually shouted: “Rock you, Tweedy”, an explanation that elicited chuckles of disbelief from the band.

Tweedy then dryly responded: “Well, rock you, Copenhagen!” to roars of approval and the show then built towards a climactic performance of old favourite ‘A Shot in the Arm’ from 1999’s Summerteeth. After a short break, the band came out to play a five-song encore that succeeded in getting a least a few people out of their chairs, especially the penultimate tune ‘Heavy Metal Drummer’.

That the bulk of the near-capacity audience remained seated throughout the evening was no reflection on the band. On the contrary, the arrangement allowed the crowd to fully absorb a masterful performance of career-spanning songs. "Rock you, Copenhagen" indeed.


One Sunday Morning
Poor Places
Art Of Almost
I Might
Bull Black Nova
Black Moon
Spiders (Kidsmoke)
Impossible Germany
Born Alone
You and I
Forget The Flowers
Box Full Of Letters
I'm Always In Love
Jesus, Etc.
Capitol City
War On War
Dawned On Me
A Shot in the Arm
Whole Love
California Stars
Heavy Metal Drummer
I'm the Man Who Loves You

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