Leaning on its latest album, “Schmilco,” as well as the milestone “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot,” Jeff Tweedy and band’s return to State Theatre proved to be a special night. (Review, photo gallery)
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“You’re at least a Thursday night audience, better than some Saturday audiences we’ve had. Don’t let that go to your heads though; don’t get cocky.”
The playful banter came about late in Wilco’s 26-song set dominated by cuts off of the band’s 2016 release “Schmilco” and 2002’s “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.” For the most part, however, Tweedy and his mates let the music do the talking.
The Chicago alt act took the stage following a mellow opening set from Louisville’s Joan Shelley, who Tweedy has helped along in the studio, and dove right into the politically charged “Ashes of American Flags” off of “Foxtrot.”
Nels Cline, who put on an absolute show, wasted no time showing off his prowess on lead guitar and drummer Glenn Kotche took his first turn in the spotlight as well, letting the crowd know they were in for a special night.
A sign of the times, and a perfect lyrical transition, Tweedy – sporting a T-shirt that read, “We’re all in this together” – then expressed his hatred for those “Normal American Kids” as the band went into the first of three consecutive songs off of “Schmilco.”
It appeared the band and audience were still feeling each other out for a bit, but after following “Normal American Kids” with “If I Ever Was a Child” and “Cry All Day” the band launched into “I am Trying to Break Your Heart,” one of the hardest rockers off of “Foxtrot” that really got the crowd going.
PERFORMING SONGS FROM NINE OF WILCO’S 11 STUDIO ALBUMS
While Wilco went on to play a total of eight tunes off “Foxtrot” and six off of “Schmilco,” it was some of the band’s deeper cuts such as “Misunderstood” and “Outtasite,” both off of 1996’s “Being There,” that were among the most powerful and most well-received.
And despite being heavy on “Schmilco” and “Foxtrot,” Wilco still managed to perform songs off of nine of the 11 studio albums released over the course of its 23-year career.
Tweedy, who at one point said he sensed “a lot of unemployment in the building, a lot of drinking going on for a Tuesday,” knew right where he was, saving 2004 cut “Spiders” for the second encore. And as each verse closed with “…on a private beach in Michigan” the crowd went nuts.
There were plenty of moments during “Via Chicago,” the only song played off 1999’s “Summerteeth” that also sent the West Michigan crowd into a frenzy, as most everyone in the southwest part of The Mitten obviously know what it feels like to be “going home, via Chicago.”
Those who came got exactly what one should expect from a Wilco show: a little bit of heartfelt, a little bit of thought-provoking and a little bit of rock n’ roll.
While the light show didn’t kick in until a few songs into the set, it was on full display mid-show as Kotche stood atop his kit and was saluted by his bandmates and the crowd following a raucous “Heavy Metal Drummer.”
And despite their successes in alternative circles, the set-closing “Late Greats” reminded the crowd exactly what they came for — the best songs, you “can’t hear them on the radio.”
PHOTO GALLERY: Wilco, Joan Shelley at State Theatre
Photos by Derek Ketchum
1. Ashes of American Flags
2. Normal American Kids
3. If I Ever was a Child
4. Cry All Day
5. I Am Trying To Break Your Heart
6. Art of Almost, Pickled Ginger
8. Someone to Lose
9. Pot Kettle Black
10. Via Chicago
11. Bull Black Nova
13. Impossible Germany
14. We Aren’t the World
16. Heavy Metal Drummer
17. I’m The Man Who Loves You
19. The Late Greats
20. Random Name Generator
21. Jesus etc.
Copyright 2017, Spins on Music LLC