Wilco Get Raunchy @ The Hollywood Palladium, LA 1/24/12

Wilco Get Raunchy
Review of Jan 24 Hollywood Palladium Show
By Gerry Gomez, Staff Writer

Wilco front-man, Jeff Tweedy asked three or four times how everyone was doing and tried inciting the Palladium crowd on Tuesday evening, as the band stormed through a high energy set which included a selection of songs from their whole career. Tweedy was affable and charismatic, with his usual “aw-shucks” kinda demeanor. He interacted with the crowd often. It was obvious that band and audience were rhetorically doing well, thank you.

As the band hit the stage, the smell of reefer came on strong. While the  fumes died down, Wilco kept up their full sonic assault with the opening track off their eighth studio album,  The Whole Love, which is as much a progression over the past studio albums, as is their current line-up. The beloved band set the tone from the onset that they were fit, at the top of their game and as tight as a unit as ever. Not bad for what some critics have labeled “Dad Rock.”

When Wilco romps through a set, the audience is left with no doubt about how musically talented the band is. Guitarist, Nels Cline says he wants to levitate during their performances. To the degree that he masters his instrument is proven by the 4th bar of the set opener, “Art of Almost.” That song alone brings all the years of playing together to a fountainhead. The  seven minute plus, modern rock specimen catapults Wilco forward and leaves one breathless. To think there was another hour-and-a-half left of the show remaining, was a high induced not just induced by the smoke haze of the ballroom.

One thing Wilco does as well as anyone and much better than other Roots Rock  bands,  is play for the audience while still doing it for themselves. Over the years, the band has progressed and won over new fans with their expansive musical expressions. On record, Wilco is known as a hard working band with unrelenting attention to detail, who often push their musical boundaries to capture their elusive musical zenith.

For some, their advances are to be taken or left. Understandably, Wilco makes albums to satisfy their creative muse. But live, they always are in tune with what is entertaining for their fans.  And that tends to make up a “greatest hits” sort of show, while not ever feeling like as trite. Tuesday night was no different. In fact, their set-list was consciously crafted to be most things to all people. At least that’s how it seemed.


With a catalog so large, surely ones’ favorite song doesn’t get played but they played favorites from most albums. Among the set were:  “I Might,” “Bull Black Nova,” “Impossible Germany,” “I Must Be High,” “Always In Love,” “Jesus, Etc.,” “Handshake Drugs,” “War on War,” and “Humingbird.” While “Candy Floss,” “Monday” and “Outtasight (Outta Mind)” were the closers of the first encore.

Of particular note Tuesday night were the version of “Whole Love” and “Impossible Germany.” Perhaps it was the newness of “Whole Love,” but the feel of the song was responded to with excitement. It seemed to have a little something extra enduring about it. “Impossible Germany,” has one of the best guitar parts of the past ten years and hearing that done live by Cline, is simply awe-inspiring.

Adding to the fun of the show, as always, was Tweedy. At one point, he tried pitting the front right of the stage’s crowd to show the band as much love as the front left side of the stage had been displaying. While maybe a corny gimmick, the crowd still surged and cheered to vie for the Stetson wearing lead singers attention.

So at ease was Tweedy, that he admitted to never saying “pussy” on stage. Not content to just say “pussy,” he proclaimed that it had to be said in a Sammy Hagar fashion of “Pusss-saaayyy!!,” which he described as “a lot more enthusiastic.” And he added just before the band ripped into “Dawned On Me,” “I feel like a big weight has been lifted off of my shoulders.”

Well, in most respects Jeff Tweedy and Wilco have matured a long way since playing the Troubadour some twelve years ago in pajama bottoms. In some ways, not so much.

Wilco are playing tonight at the LA Theatre and February 10 at the Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara. Tickets can be purchased at Stub Hub.

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