Thursday, May 7
Murat Theatre at Old National Centre
While initial feelings about Wilco’s cancelled-then-reinstated show in the wake of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act were somewhat mixed between those strongly supporting and those who felt they were being punished for the ignorance of a minority of Hoosiers, few argued that Wilco’s performance was a welcome end to that initial fallout. And, while the subject was never addressed directly during the show, singer and lead Wilco-er Jeff Tweedy made several vague references to the theme of togetherness that would reverberate throughout the Murat Theatre.
After a short set by opener Steve Gunn that all but 50 or so people missed, Wilco strolled out onto a stage that was simply, but splendidly lit with a simple textured background.
Opening their set with “Via Chicago” from 1999's Summerteeth
, the band performed a mix of well-known hits, lesser known album cuts, and songs from their collaborations with Billy Bragg. The depth of their catalog was evident, from the swooning harmonies of the Woody Guthrie-penned “Secrets of the Sea” to the punchy pop of “Heavy Metal Drummer” to the stirring fan favorite “Impossible Germany," one of the highlights of the night.
Wilco covered their 20 years across 30 songs, so it’s hard to imagine that any fan of the band could walk away disappointed. But, there were still requests along the way, to which Tweedy lightheartedly responded, “I don’t know what you said but, sure, you got it!” More than likely, they probably did.
Drummer Glenn Kotche bashed his kit vigorously through a fantastic rendition of “Art of Almost” that swelled into storm of sound, one of several songs where his drumming, always strong but never overdone, really came alive. One of his kits is on display at the Rhythm Discovery Center downtown, just a few a few blocks away from the Murat.
That same song was one of many that saw guitarist Nels Cline unleash his heavily effect-laden playing that would, at times, seem more in line with Radiohead or My Bloody Valentine.
After ending the main set with “Dawned on me”, the band came back with an encore of “Hotel Arizona” and “Monday”. That, however, wouldn’t be the end.
Beginning with “Misunderstood” from 1996’s Being There,
the band rounded out their nearly two and a half hour long performance with a stripped-back, six-song acoustic set. Tweedy and company went all the way back to “We’ve Been Had” from Wilco’s prior incarnation, Uncle Tupelo, before ending the night with 1999 single “A Shot in the Arm”, a good analogy for a night with Wilco.