I’m having pretty mixed feelings about the show last night in Madison. The music was great, as always, but I was finding it very hard to enjoy myself fully. Maybe I’ve become a bit curmudgeonly over the years and I just can’t be in a crowd this large anymore without getting annoyed by the people surrounding me. I haven’t nailed it down yet, but here’s hoping when we see them again here in Chicago at the end of the year I’ll have a better time.
A big problem for me may have been that just before Nick Lowe took to the stage as opener, I saw on Twitter that Steve Jobs had passed away. That’s a rough way to kick off any evening, but to have that followed by Lowe’s slow, often somber tunes didn’t do anything to help. Toward the end of the set he decided to play a couple Elvis Costello numbers and I almost started to cry I hated them so much. His rendition of “Alison” is one of the worst things I’ve ever heard in my life. During his own famous tune, “Cruel To Be Kind,” some idiot was clapping loudly just slightly off the rhythm, ruining the song for everyone that could hear him.
After about 40 minutes, Lowe finally finished up and Wilco started setting up. I was hoping they would open with the 11-minute slowburn “One Sunday Morning,” but instead Madison was first treated with “Capitol City.” I’m not the biggest fan of that song, but I know quite a big number out there that think it’s great. I just love the idea of opening a rock show with a long song that builds but never explodes. They opened this way at most of their shows on this tour, but I’ll get over it.
The setlist was fairly balanced, but did lean pretty heavy toward the new stuff. I looked over the setlists for other shows, and it looks like six or seven tracks off of The Whole Love have been played. We got nine from what I remember: “Capitol City,” “One Sunday Morning,” “Art Of Almost,” “I Might,” “Black Moon,” “Dawned On Me,” “The Whole Love,” “Standing O,” and “Born Alone.” All those, and my favorite song from the album, “Open Mind,” got left out. For the remainder of the songs, the band crossed over their entire catalog, playing “Box Full Of Letters” all the way through “Bull Black Nova.”
Surprisingly they played a great deal off of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. I’d never complain about that, but I was expecting more from A Ghost Is Born than any other old record. Off Foxtrot they played “Jesus, etc.” “Poor Places,” “War On War,” “I’m The Man Who Loves You,” and “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart.” Only “Handshake Drugs” was played from Ghost Is Born.
Of all the songs that got played, one of the very few that got a proper introduction was “Standing O.” When I put up my initial reaction to the 24-hour stream of The Whole Love, I included “Standing O” in my favorites, and was promptly told I was a dolt. When Tweedy talked about it before going forward, he said “Get this while it’s hot. We probably won’t be playing it much longer. It’s very difficult to play and makes us really tired.” It was a really good performance of this song, and one of the few times the music blocked out all the yokels around me that kept dragging my focus away from the band.
Overture Hall in Madison is a gorgeous facility. The sound system is very good, and I would recommend anyone go see a performance there. The seats look very cold and modern, but they’re actually quite comfortable. Which makes me wonder why more people chose to avoid them all together and stand up for the entirety of the show. It’s not like we paid $12 to see a band play at a bar. These were decently priced tickets for a show at a really nice venue. Sit down. Also, don’t spend the whole show talking/texting. If you wanna do that, just put the record on at home and save yourself the fifty bucks.
If you’d like, Kari got us some great pictures that you can find over on our facebook page.