“I keep looking up at the rocks,” he said, “feeling kind of lucky.”
Wilco was hardly out of focus, though: one of America’s best rock bands delivered a big, sprawling rock show on the second date of a summer tour that began at the Morrison venue the previous night.
With guitarist Nels Cline anchoring the strongest Wilco lineup in its 18 years, to some extent you know what you’re going to get: a grown-up band comfortable in its own skin, picking and choosing from a catalog that has solidified the Chicago band as one of the most adventurous and interesting around.
So the wild card is the setlist. And after leaning more heavily on its newer material at Friday night’s show, Wilco dug deeper into the catalog and played a surprising volume of older stuff. The band ended up about as many songs from “A.M.” and “Being There” as from its last three albums combined.
The set opened with “Misunderstood,” a slow builder that ends with Tweedy stuck like a broken record on the “nothing” part of, “I’d like to thank you all for nothing at all.” Those who had seen Wilco before had heard it before, but it isn’t any less nice to hear it again.
The song is from “Being There,” the double album that signaled that a band tagged as “alt-country” (remember that term?) would be something special.
Other high points included one of the prettiest songs from the “Mermaid Avenue” collaboration with Billy Bragg (“One by One”), the band’s very first single from 1995 (“Box Full of Letters”), the best song on its best album (“Jesus Etc.” from the career-defining “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot”), the strongest song on its latest (“Born Alone”) and a rarity from the Loose Fur collaboration of the early 2000s (“Laminated Cat.”)
Veteran rock/pop band Dr. Dog played a strong opening set that was well received by the big crowd. The Pennsylvania band’s latest, “Be the Void,” is crisp, catchy and worth checking out.
Eric Gorski is a staff writer at The Denver Post and occasional contributor to Reverb.
Tina Hagerling is a Denver photographer and regular contributor to Reverb. Check out more of her concert photography.