Wellington Opera House
Monday 24th March
After spent almost 15 years pleasing audiences all over the world, releasing Grammywinning albums and refusing to wash their hair, Wilco delivered Wellington the show that everyone expected them to – and what a great show it was.
Support act Miriam Clancy tried her darndest to warm up a totally uninterested crowd with her altcountry wailing, and was doing an ok job for the first few songs. After a while, though, the sheer blandness of her songs just made the crowd restless and impatient. It’s a pity, really – her voice has a real personality to it, just not enough to compensate for the lack of personality in her songs.
Warming up with the shimmering crowd-pleaser ‘Sunken Treasure’, Wilco got off on the right foot, with self-proclaimed front man Jeff Tweedy pitching his hushed vocals and hypnotic acoustic playing at the crowd like a well-kept secret.
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For the first half of the gig, Wilco simply ran through their songs, with little acknowledgment of the sold-out crowd. We were treated to the bright ‘Company in My Back’, the solemn restraint of ‘Hell is Chrome’, and crowd anthem ‘I am Trying to Break Your Heart’. The band took the chance to mix a bit of dissonant noise in, too, especially on ‘I am Trying’, with drummer Glen Kotche making use of samples and direct manipulation of his cymbals to create tense noise.
Once Tweedy acknowledged the crowd, though, there was no end to his banter. Highlights included an Ozzy impersonation, and a general send-up of the metalheads in town for Rock 2 Wellington (“is it custom in your country to put on your metal t-shirts the day after Easter?”).
Delivering a wide range of songs from their varied palate, Wilco chose not to focus too heavily on their most recent album, Sky Blue Sky, which was a real relief, as the songs are, in my opinion, far too smarmy and self-assured for their own good. Although I must admit to getting caught up in the sweet, lilting tones of ‘Impossible Germany’.
Although Tweedy kept the humour up with his crowd banter, it was guitarist Nels Cline who threatened to steal the show with his blistering guitar work and intriguing stage presence. Complete with tight red felt pants, you just couldn’t ignore the guy.
All in all, it’s safe to say that very few in the audience would have been disappointed with the show. As one of the most established and respected bands around, expectations for this show were running very high, and Wilco delivered.