Wilco at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, 6/22/12 (photos and review) - Reverb

Wilco at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, 6/22/12 (photos and review)

Wilco opened its weekend stand at Red Rocks Amphitheatre on Friday night with a an elongated and frustratingly static version of “One Sunday Morning (Song For Jane Smiley’s Boyfriend).” The song, a fitting album closer to 2011’s “The Whole Love,” set a lifeless tone for what began as one of the most dispassionate Wilco performances in memory.

Luckily, the set turned around, though not before the 12th song of the 24 total played Friday night. Indeed, Jeff Tweedy and Co. appeared lifeless through the first half of the show, trudging through forgettable newer songs like “Born Alone” and a half-speed acoustic version of “Spiders (Kidsmoke)” that effectively turned one of the most rousing works in Wilco’s extensive catalog into a perpetually plateaued sleeper.

The band found its groove mid-set with a four song sprint that began with twangy rocker “I Might Be High” from 1995’s “A.M.” Lively takes on “I’m Always In Love,” “Heavy Metal Drummer” and “I’m The Man Who Loves You” followed — juxtaposing the strength of these canonical Wilco numbers with the weakness of the late-era output.

The conventional double encore featured a few memorable nuggets: “Remember The Mountain Bed,” “Theologians” and a rarely-seen “Monday.” Tweedy invited openers Punch Brothers out to pick and jam on “California Stars,” and while the string band added beautiful accompaniment, mandolin maestro Chris Thile and his jacket-and-tie partners seemed to soften what’s already a bedtime lullaby of a song.

Compared with Saturday’s brilliance, Friday night felt more like Tweedy and his five teammates had just arrived at Spring Training — enjoying the warm weather, shaking the dust off and saving some energy for tomorrow’s game.

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John Hendrickson is the managing editor of Reverb and a multimedia journalist at The Denver Post. Follow him on Twitter, if that’s what you’re into.

Glenn Ross is a Denver-based photographer and regular contributor to Reverb. See more of his work here.

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  • Teamdahl

    Lifeless???  Are you kidding, the One Sunday Morning>Poor Places intro is one of my all time favorites.  I’ll agree that Saturday was epic, but Friday was a great show for a tour opener.  Nels doesn’t need to shread every song, subtle works too.

  • Nardalus

    Dispassionate performance? Wow, I was at both shows and thought Friday night was the better show. Jeff was having a lot of fun on Friday, cracking jokes all night. I personally enjoyed the new version of kidsmoke. Via Chicago > Hoodoo Vodoo was the best hour of the weekend.

  • guest

    I couldn’t disagree with this reviewer more.  The show was mellower than most Wilco shows I’ve seen, but fit the beautiful summer night perfectly.  One Sunday Morning is a great opener, and the acoustic Spiders (Kidsmoke) (which Tweedy has been playing in solo shows for years) is one of my favorites.  The fact that the reviewer even managed to try to qualify his praise of “California Stars” tells me a lot. 

    I laughed when I read that one of the highlights of the supposedly far superior Saturday show was “Born Alone,” while one of the low points of Friday’s show was the band’s “trudging through forgettable newer songs like “Born Alone””.