Friday, September 4, 2009

Wilco - review of the 2 Dublin shows, August 2009

So, another two stunning nights from the band that keeps getting better!

Having always loved music but being unable to purge a constant nagging feeling that all the best music was really made long before I was born, Wilco perennially manage to put this feeling on hold.

They really are our generation's Beatles. With a splash of Dylan. And Neil. The Band, etc. Even Radiohead. However, there are plenty of other decent (and not so decent) bands around who hark back to those sort of roots; but what Wilco bring to the table is something much more original, adding their own contemporary twist to forms of music that have never really been bettered.

Anyway, to the music. Touring on the back of their 8th disc, 'Wilco (the album)' a decent follow up to what I think was their career best ('Sky Blue Sky'), this time they have achieved even better results than usual in the live incarnations of the new songs. Only out a few months, the new songs have evolved naturally into really fine arrangements, and all fit in well alongside older material. Songs like One Wing, You Never Know, I'll Fight, Sonny Feeling were all excellent, and not surprisingly went down very well with the Dublin crowd - a town Wilco play so much, these almost feel like being at hometown gigs.

The Sky Blue Sky songs continue to impress, from the by now show stopping 'Impossible Germany' to gorgeous quieter country-ish numbers like You Are My Face.
I think all 8 albums got a look-in over the 2 nights, with I think about 15 different songs the 2nd night, and some real rarities, such as John's turn on lead vocals ('It's Just that Simple') to 'Magazine Called Sunset' and older ones like 'Passenger Side'.

As has been well covered in the media, this is the most stable Wilco lineup to date, and each musician brings something to the table, with the music wonderfully layered, yet never sounding convoluted. From amazing vocals, guitars, drums , to swirls of 60s sounding keyboards, combining everything from exquisite country to experimental rock blow outs; plus the two Krautrock-esque regulars ('Bull Black Nova' and 'Spiders'), there's never a dull moment seeing such a genre-bending band. And most importantly, I really don't think there's ever been a band who know how to 'build' a live version of a song better than Wilco, using dynamics that always feel natural, yet avoiding some of the (slight) self indulgence of the 'Yankee' and 'Ghost' tours. The longest song (excepting 'Spiders') is about 6 minutes, and both Dublin setlists just work perfectly, playing a good smattering from the new album, some rarities, plus all our favourites really. And Jeff was in very good form, funny and engaging, actually the whole band looked to be having a great time, not to mention the audience.

I know I write a lot of positive reviews, but this time, believe me! Two great shows! Both now available for download on

Finally, a positive mention also for support band, Blitzen Trapper, who are well worth checking out.


1 comment:

  1. Spot on! Judy and I just got back to New Mexico from a whirlwind weeklong trip to Dublin where we attended both of the Vicar Street shows and sat in the second row for Present Laughter. Had to agree with all your reviews and wish we had a time machine so we could go back and join you to compare notes. Ah well, something to look forward to for our next trip to Dublin.

    Meanwhile, we're plotting to see Wilco when they resume in (of all places) Iowa City, on October 1.