Here’s a silly thing I thought of as the concert came to a close last night: “The show began with the smoldering, quiet intensity of Benedict Cumberbatch and ended with the rollicking energy you’d expect from early 80’s Robin Williams.” Oddly, I feel like that describes it pretty well.
Night 2 of Wilco’s 6-night stand at The Riviera was a treasure trove of rarities mostly from the band’s early days. Night 5 was a complete 180, featuring crowd-pleasers from beginning to end. The audience was way more into the set, and hardly took the time to chat amongst themselves during songs.
They opened with a brilliant rendition of “Sunken Treasure.” Nels was highlighted often during the first few songs, especially his lap steel work during the breakdown of this first song. Like that other show we attended, this one started off with some slower, more intricate tracks. Unlike that show, last night’s set kept getting bigger and bigger. There was the occasional deep cut, like “Blasting Fonda,” but mostly they stuck to the hits-albeit in alternate versions.
For example, “Camera” took on a drum-heavy industrial feel with Jeff’s vocals playing second fiddle to the guitar work of Pat and Nels. Jeff pointed out that their performance of “Panthers” on this night was a repeat (they also played it on Saturday), but this one featured Glenn playing with casual detachment, and Pat was thinking about Christmas. It was revealed that Mikael Jorgenson is actually a robot, so he plays the same every night no matter what. Jeff referred to the animatronic Chuck E. Cheese Band or the Country Bears as a reference for Mikael’s playing style.
The biggest surprise of the night may have been the version of “Born Alone” they played. I would have never expected that song to get such a huge applause from the crowd, but they played it like a huge arena rock jam and the crowd ate it up. Between that and the sing-a-long on “Hummingbird,” this may have been the best crowd I’ve seen Wilco with.
They ended the show with four acoustic numbers. Jeff and John on guitar, Nels on a lap steel, Pat on banjo, Glenn with just a snare and brushes…not sure what Mikael was playing. Looked like a melodica, but it was probably just a tiny keyboard or synth. You couldn’t really hear it from where I was, way in the back.
It was another great Wilco show, which at this point is the least surprising thing ever. The band never disappoints and I never tire of seeing them play.
In A Future Age
Remember The Mountain Bed
Why Would You Wanna Live?
Pick Up The Change
Magazine Called Sunset
Should’ve Been In Love
I’m Always In Love
Outta Mind (Outtasite)
Dreamer In My Dreams
Someone Else’s Song (acoustic)
Airline To Heaven (acoustic)
Whole Love (acoustic)
Shot In The Arm (acoustic)