Wilco digs deep into its catalog at the Bushnell in Hartford
Nearly every Wilco shows ends up being an overview of the band’s catalog, but Wilco’s catalog has grown large enough that you never know just what kind of overview you’ll get.
The Chicago band drew most heavily from a pair of albums Wednesday night at the Bushnell in Hartford, surrounding songs from last year’s “The Whole Love” and 2002′s “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” with plenty of supporting material that showed not only the band’s depth, but a versatility that remains fresh and startling eight years into the current lineup’s tenure.
Wilco made sure to hit plenty of fan favorites, including the disconnected anthem “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” and “Impossible Germany,” a showcase for lead guitarist Nels Cline’s virtuosic freakouts, while digging up a few less frequently heard tunes, such as the roots-rock stomper “Too Far Apart” from the band’s 1995 debut, “A.M.,” and “Pot Kettle Black,” among the least performed of the songs from “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.”
The band jumped on newer songs as if they were electrified, whirling through “Born Alone” with feverish energy and letting the tension build into a powerful explosion on the 7-minute avant-rocker “Art of Almost.” Wilco’s not afraid to rearrange older songs, either, and a recent adjustment to “Spiders (Kidsmoke)” has made the song hypnotic in a different way, trading the propulsive drone for an acoustic-based arrangement that brings singer Jeff Tweedy’s subtle melody to the fore.
Tweedy, often a voluble frontman given to wry pronouncements from the stage, was noticeably less talkative Wednesday. Given the band’s gargantuan tour schedule this summer, he’s probably exhausted. In fact, all of Wilco rode a fraying edge of adrenaline that seemed to lend extra spark to the sleek, dark “Laminated Cat,” a song by Tweedy’s Loose Fur side project with drummer Glenn Kotche; and to the high-octane rockers “Monday” and “Outtasite (Outta Mind)” that closed the show.
They were the last songs of two generous encores, which also including the band’s stormy version of “Via Chicago,” concert mainstay “Heavy Metal Drummer” and the tongue-in-cheek celebration of obscure music “The Late Greats.”
Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo opened the show with 45 minutes of songs drawn from his recent solo album, “Between the Times and Tides.”
— Eric R. Danton