Sign No. 4,878 You've Found Your People: You pick up exactly where you left off three days earlier!
Wilco, Northrop Auditorium, October 10, 2007: The short answer as to how this trip, which started off with plans to visit B's new condo and to see Wilco in Kansas City and Iowa City, came to encompass Minneapolis as well: the red-eye and those aforementioned People.
I always thought a concert at the legendary First Ave. would bring about my first ever visit to Minneapolis, but alas, the subjects of my rock tourism aren't about to grace the venue soon, though for entirely different reasons. Reserved seating wouldn't normally draw me to a faraway town either, but B's amazing ticket karma landed us in the third row of the pit, at the far left on Nels Cline's side--no complaints here!
I'm not going to tell you that the band has radically reinvented itself in the month since I last saw them. But this leg of the tour, like its predecessors, isn't a carbon copy of earlier outings either. Of course, tracks from Sky Blue Sky enjoy an edge, and at this point, certain songs have emerged as the live powerhouses, perhaps none more so than the peerless "Impossible Germany," though "Side with the Seeds," "Hate It Here," and "You Are My Face" easily qualify as well, and they all dazzled tonight in the Twin Cities.
But one of my favorite parts of every show is seeing how the band makes use of its back catalog. I love that "Too Far Apart" has settled into the regular setlist, but by the end of the night, the spotlight rested on my favorite Being There, starting with the opening track "Sunken Treasure" and once again for the first half of the single, long encore--which leads me to the requisite Nels Cline Appreciation Hour.
Back in August and September, Nels's playing grew stronger with each passing night as he shook off the chicken pox, though you'd be hard-pressed to find him slacking on the tunes. A month later and with the ailment behind him, Nels made clear the benefits a full recovery when he interjected the older tracks with some feverish guitar work that made even his fellow band members look over to see what he was up to.
Being slightly farther than usual from the stage, we noticed other details as well, such as the tour's former star, the macrame owl, now tucked away behind Mikael's station or, in a completely contrasting vein, the awesome, rolling beat Glenn brings to "Jesus, etc.", to name two. I also need to mention Jeff's bright, silly mood (showing off his falsetto at the end of "Too Far Apart") and the guest appearance of Gary Louris for "California Stars," which he picked up quite well, confidently punching up the melody with slashes of heavy, distorted guitar.
Opening the show, Andrew Bird and his band bathed the room with a gorgeous, adoringly received set that served as a perfect Cliff's Notes version of their full show. I actually have a ticket to their gig here in San Francisco scheduled for December, but that date is now questionable, due to other potential plans. Lucky for me, this tour with Wilco may render those scheduling concerns moot.
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