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Wilco @ Radio City 10/05

Posted by evankessler on October 6, 2004

I just got back from a wonderful evening of live music at Radio City Music Hall. Rich Burrier, Maureen Hoban, Laura Renga, and myself had tickets to go see Wilco with the Fiery Furnaces opening up. Laura and Maureen hated the Fiery Furnaces but I didn’t mind them so much. I have the album on recommendation from Ross Alvord, and I kind of like it. Not all of it, but most of it. That being said, we only caught about half of their performance.

Jeff Tweedy, John Stiratt, Glen Kotche, and the rest of the revolving sidemen known as Wilco took the stage a little after 9, perhaps 9:30 with the light piano pop bounce of Hummingbird complete with video monitors showing apropos images. The band rattled off two more songs off of their most recent release A Ghost Is Born. During Muzzle of Bees the monitor showed Bees (crazy!) and during Hell is Chrome the screen showed pictures of earth. Not that it’s too interesting, I just thought I would tell you more of the video images. After showing off some of their new material the crowd really seemed to respond to “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” which was followed by one of my Summerteeth favorites “A Shot In The Arm”. I thought we’d hear a long string of new songs after the band went back and played a song off of “A Ghost Is Born” but they mixed up nicely after that point. The highlight for me was “Via Chicago” which is one of my favorite songs of all time. I had never heard it played live and this was probably my 5th or 6th time seeing them. It really hit me by surprise because I heard the opening chord and I knew it but I never expect them to sing a song with the word “Chicago” in it when they are in New York, which seems really stupid, I know. Why wouldn’t they. Anyway, It was perfect. It may have been even better than on the album. There’s something about the sour heartbroken guitar solos in that song that seems to put me in this weird plane of consciousness where it’s the only thing I’m aware of at the moment.

Shortly after “Via Chicago” Jeff spoke to the audience saying that he was hesitant to play in New York when the band played Town Hall on September 26th of 2001. At first I thought maybe he was talking about “Ashes of American Flags” but then they broke into “Jesus, Etc.” and I could understand what he was talking about seeing as the lyrics are “Tall buildings shake, voices escape singing sad sad songs…” and another part which contains the lyric “…skyscrapers are scraping together…”. “Ashes of American Flags” followed immediately.

Jeff had also mentioned at one point that his family was in the crowd. I actually think they were sitting two rows directly in front of us. Unfortunately, one row in front of us were the Biologically Engineered Superfans who jumped up everytime they heard a rock guitar and drums but slumped back in their seats every time there was a slow song they didn’t know. Which managed to piss off the crowd behind them who just wanted to sit and enjoy the show.
However, Jeff passively urged the crowd to stand up before they broke into “Theologians” and the crowd obliged. He said that this portion of the show would rock and we took his word for it. It’s hard to argue when the lead singer asks you to get on your feet and everyone else stand up blocking your line of sight. The band held up their end of the bargain and burst into “I’m the Man Who Loves You” followed by “Poor Places” and “Reservations” Before finally closing out the set with “Spiders (Kidsmoke)”.

Before the band took the stage Fred Armisen from SNL took the stage and did a little bit as his Latino Comic with a drum. If you’ve seen the Wilco documentary than you know why he was on stage. He didn’t really stay out for too long, maybe two minutes at the most and then the band was back on, kicking off the encore with “Candyfloss” and ending the 1st encore three songs later with “I’m A Wheel”.

The crowd’s craving for live Wilco was not sated yet as they held out for a second encore. The band opened with “Passenger Side” off of their debut album A.M. and continued with “California Stars” which I think I’ve heard every time I’ve seen them. Jeff Tweedy then went on a short political rant about the importance of voting and passively urged the audience to vote for Kerry. Well, maybe not so passively, he said, and I paraphrase, that if you are thinking about voting for Bush, maybe you should seek therapy. The band then appropriately segued into “War on War” and closed the show with a song that they said Jim O’Rourke turned them on to. I’m not sure what it was called. I think it was called “Be Not So Fearful” or something like that. I’m going to look it up.

Overall it was a fantastic show. Probably the best Wilco show I’ve seen since the Bowery Ballroom show when Yankee Hotel Foxtrot came out in April of 2002. Good times everybody good times. I really need to thank Marie Camaya for coming up huge with the tickets. You are the fucking best. I owe you big time. PJ Harvey on Thursday!!!!!

Here’s the Wilco Setlist. I might be off a little bit.

Wilco@ Radio City 10/5/04
Muzzle of Bees
Hell Is Chrome
I Am Trying To Break Your Heart
A Shot In The Arm
At Least That’s What You Said
Via Chicago
Handshake Drugs
Jesus, Etc.
Ashes of American Flags
I’m The Man Who Loves You
Poor Places
Spiders (Kidsmoke)

1st Encore:
The Late Greats
I’m A Wheel

2nd Encore:
Passenger Side
California Stars
War on War
Be Not So Fearful (Bill Fay cover?)

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