Wilco: What They Once Were Isn't What They Want To Be Anymore
It's come to this - Wilco is now a band that inspires mid-song clapping after an especially impressive guitar solo. This isn't the most terrible thing in the world. Nels Cline is a world-class guitarist and his skills are worth applauding. But when that becomes the highlight of just about every song by a band that was responsible for some of the best, beer-soaked shows I've ever seen, it's a bit disappointing.
This isn't to say that Wilco isn't worth seeing anymore. It's just that Jeff Tweedy may have assembled a band that is simply too good. It's a well-oiled machine; there's no spontaneity to anything that happens on stage. Even without their glorious past to make the current version seem lackluster, new songs like "Walken" and "Hate It Here" are simply boring on every level, musically and lyrically.
Jeff Tweedy still has a fantastically raspy voice and the stoned shuffle of "Handshake Drugs" was the best single performance of any song I've seen today. And it's not like I just want to hear a set of oldies. "Monday" and "Outta Site (Outta Mind)" were great to hear, but it seemed like band was running through the motions a bit, understandable since the songs are 12 years old and only Tweedy and bassist John Stirrat were in the band when those songs were written.
Set closer "Hoodoo Voodoo" was a standout for a simple reason - it was fun. Wilco's still a very good band. They just aren't that much fun anymore. And that's too bad.
-- David Malitz
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