Wednesday, April 27, 2005

WILCO!

Just some stray thoughts about the Wilco concert I saw in Albuquerque last night.

I hadn't seen Jeff Tweedy and the boys in 10 years -- they came to Santa Fe's tiny Club Alegria in May 1995, soon after releasing AM. (Besides stuff from their first album, I remember them playing a great cover of The Texas Tornados' "Who Were You Thinking Of" and a botched, aborted stab at Neil Young's "Albuquerque.")

They were supposed to come to the Lensic in Santa Fe last year but cancelled due to Jeff Tweedy's rehab stint. "I was indisposed," Tweedy said from the stage last night.

I don't know if it was "worth the wait," but Wilco certainly didn't disappoint last night.

Though they started off slowly last night, opening with a questionable choice -- a slow,delicate "Muzzle of Bees" -- things soon picked up. By the third or fourth song, "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart," the spell was cast.

Nels Cline is a great addition to the band. From some stray reports I'd heard I was afraid he'd dominate, but that's not the case. The two keyboardists also fill out the sound. (Anyone know their names? Post 'em on the comments section here.) Sometimes they suggested The Band, sometimes Brian Wilson.

Most the songs, unsurprisingly were from A Ghost is Born -- which is far from my favorite Wilco album, though I appreciate some of the songs better after hearing them live -- and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. They also reached back for at several songs from Summerteeth ("A Shot in the Arm" and "Candy Floss" stood out),at least one from Being There ("Kingpin") and several quasi-acoustic tunes from the Mermaid Avenue records including a beautiful (how could it be otherwise) "Remember the Mountain Bed," "Another Man's Done Gone" and "California Stars."

For me the transcendental highlight was when the cacophony at the end of "Poor Places" melted into a lethal version of "Spider (Kidsmoke)"

It also was good seeing The Handsome Family. Unlike other times when I've seen them, they had a full band including Brett's brother Darrell on banjo and bass (switching off with Rennie) and Eric Johnson on drums (Both are from the Albuquerque group The Rivet Gang.) Rennie's raps about the various Wal-Marts in Albuquerque are getting even more funny.

The whole show made me happy.

By the way, at this writing it looks like nobody's posted the set list from last night's show on WilcoBase yet. If anyone was taking notes last night (not me -- I'm off work this week!) please share with the world.

Speaking of fine shows I had a great time Saturday night at Al Faaet's Martini Prophecies at the High Mayhem Studio. It was an evening of true New-Year's-Eve-in-the-nut-house music. The type of show that the devil inside of me fantasizes about seeing on The Plaza frightening unsuspecting tourists ...

(Full disclosure time, Al's a good buddy of mine and is in fact the drummer of my long dormant CHARRED REMAINS. The show included my baby brother Jack too. And for the record, deep in my heart, I do believe that J.A. Deane actually is the 14-year-old Perfect Master. Other than that, I'm completely unbiased.)

And as much as the music, I appreciated the sense of true community created by High Mayhem master Max Friedenberg and his sinister cohorts. It's a friendly, welcoming little scene and I hope it thrives.

I picked up a copy of the High Mayhem Festival 2003 CD and it's a great sampler of this kind of experimental, improvisational music. (I haven't had a chance yet to fool around with the CD-ROM, which includes complete performances of the artists on the CD.)

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