Live review: Wilco @ the Fillmore Auditorium

On Thursday night at the Fillmore, Wilco proved that yes, its most recent studio material can stand up against its hallowed back catalog. Indeed, new songs like “Art of Almost, “I Might” and “Dawned On Me” charged forward with ferocity, and could have easily been mistaken for “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” B-sides. However, even if choice cuts from 2011’s “The Whole Love” peppered the 26-song performance, there was a notable absence of the band’s previous two efforts.

Now in its 16th year with its most consistent lineup to date, Wilco no longer needs to prove itself, for better or worse. That’s not to say Tweedy and co. have thrown in the towel in favor of greatest hits victory laps, but they know to give the fans what they want. Thursday’s set stemmed mainly from the aforementioned “YHF” and 1996’s “Being There.” Guitar solos wandered, Tweedy crooned much and bantered little. And that was fine with the largely jacket-around-the-waist-receding-hairling-$9-dollar-beer-crowd. Wilco fans do not shell out $50 on a school night to hear the hits — they go for the nuggets.


Rare versions of “Poor Places,” “Pot Kettle Black” and “She’s A Jar” highlighted the evening — the latter of which saw Tweedy fudge the mouth harp solo, if nothing else, because he never plays it. In lieu of its usual double encores, the band opted for one mega curtain call churning out a whopping eight songs in less than 30 minutes. Fans were given a four leaf clover in the form of a continuous “Red-Eyed and Blue” > “I Got You (At The End of the Century)” > “Outtasite (Outta Mind) > “I’m A Wheel” sprint to end the night, one of the greatest combos I’ve ever heard them play.

However, when leaving the shoulder-to-shoulder Fillmore, I couldn’t help but feel a bit underwhelmed. They played long and hard, like they always do. Nels shredded more than a few solos, like he always does. Glenn Kotche hammered complex patterns and flailed his limbs with each percussive hit, like we’ve seen him do in two documentaries. But Tweedy and the others did not seem fully engaged. Perhaps with instant venue sell-outs and strong vinyl sales, there’s no longer much at stake. Wilco grows less “cult” by the day as its core fans show up with a new wrinkle and bigger beer belly every show.

Is it too early to be nostalgic about Wilco? Maybe, maybe not. For now, many are just thankful that the Chicago sextet is still road-dogging — even if that means we’re all home and fast asleep by midnight.

Set list:

“Poor Places”
“Art Of Almost”
“I Might”
“Side With The Seeds”
“I Am Trying To Break Your Heart”
“One Wing”
“She’s A Jar”
“Impossible Germany”
“Via Chicago”
“Born Alone”
“Capitol City”
“War On War”
“Box Full Of Letters”
“Pot Kettle Black”
“Dawned On Me”
“A Shot in the Arm”


“Whole Love”
“Heavy Metal Drummer”
“I’m The Man Who Loves You”
“Red-Eyed and Blue”
“I Got You (At The End of the Century)”
“Outtasite (Outta Mind)
“I’m A Wheel”

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John Hendrickson is the managing editor of Reverb and a multimedia journalist for The Denver Post. Follow his rants on music and more on Twitter.

Evan Semón is a Denver freelance writer and photographer and regular contributor to Reverb. See more of his work.