A Tuesday afternoon email from Screws reminded me that we (Screws, Pete and I) had the distinct pleasure of seeing Wilco the following night. I’d totally forgotten! Well, I knew the Wilco gig was for the 18th but surely we weren’t that close to the date already?!
[Sorry to the folks that I’d double-booked the dinner with for the night of the 18th. I hope you can understand that I wasn’t about to miss Wilco! We will reschedule soon.]
After meeting the lads at the venue we wandered to our seats waaaaay back up in the dress circle. Should have brought binoculars. Glenn Richards (of Augie March fame) was supporting and had just started his set – he was but a tiny dot at the extremity of our vision. We could just make out someone with a guitar. Sounded wonderful though; even with a "loogy he’d caught in Brisane" the man can sing. The loogy forced him to struggle with the high notes but the clarity and quality of his voice was unmistakeable.
About half-way through that set we received a pleasant surprise from our usher; he had a few tickets left over for seats much closer; would we like them? Hell yes. Decent seats; on the floor, thirty rows back. We could actually recognise Richards from here!
Kiernan Box (also of Augie) joined Richards onstage with his harmonica for the last few songs. It definitely helped as some sounded quite empty without the band (the closer This Train Is Taking No Passengers sounded just weird without percussion). Decent set, enjoyable.
The air had a palpable sense of excitement as it drew time for Wilco to start. After hearing Richards’ pared-back set, when Wilco opened (with You Are My Face) I was blown away; the sound was so full, rich and mixed perfectly that it just sounded amazing. A grin appeared on my face, and there it remained all night.
They played for close to two and a half hours. Every second was enjoyable. Tweedy was a charismatic front man and really engaged the audience (even the obligatory pissed hecklers). He made an offhand comment: "We don’t even need an audience; we have so much fun playing music!". You didn’t have to listen to them for long to realise that he wasn’t exaggerating at all – this band loves to play.
Highlights included I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, Handshake Drugs, I’m the Man Who Loves You, Hummingbird, Spiders and many more. Plenty of new songs from their upcoming album Sky Blue Sky which sounds like a ripper.
The most memorable part of the night had to be the last song. After a two and a half hour gig, pumping out 23 great songs – with two encores – Tweedy appears alone onstage asking for a request. Someone calls out something unintelligible. He starts playing. Acoustically, no amplification, no mics, just him and a guitar in the Palais. Every single person in the audience was dead silent as he played the old Uncle Tupelo song Acuff Rose. When the last couple of notes were plucked the whole theatre erupted. Fantastic stuff.
In short, one of the best gigs I’ve been to.
Thanks to Screws and Pete for organising and sharing the experience! And a further thanks Screwsy for the photos. 🙂
You can download the entire show for free (legitimately apparently). And here are a few other recaps I found from the same night:
- Wilco at the Palais, Melbourne
- Wilco! 18/4
- My Date with Jeff
- Wilco (18th April, Palais Theatre)
- too old for band teeshirts? :: Wilco (again) at the Palais Theatre
- chrome canyons