Review: Wilco – Lyric Opera House, Baltimore

Set: Sunken Treasure / You Are My Face / War On War / Handshake Drugs / Impossible Germany / It’s Just That Simple / Forget The Flowers / Box Full Of Letters / Jesus Etc. / I Am Trying To Break Your Heart / Spiders / Hummingbird / A Shot In The Arm / Hate It Here / Walken / I’m The Man Who Loves You
Encore 1: Via Chicago / California Stars / Kingpin
Encore 2: The Late Greats / Heavy Metal Drummer / Red-Eyed and Blue / I Got You / Outtasite

I picked up the travel bug a few weeks ago and began looking for a show to see in a place I hadn’t been. Truth be told, I had to take one more flight to maintain my frequent flier status for 2009. Baltimore was cheap, Wilco was playing, I bought the ticket. The Lyric Opera House is a beautiful theater, built in 1894. The foyer of the building is misleading. You really can’t appreciate how large it is until you’re inside. The sound is pristine, one of the best sounding Wilco shows I’ve seen, period. The band was all in high spirits, the crowd was moving and dancing, and it turned out to be a pretty nice 24-hour getaway. Below, a review of sorts….

10 Highlights/Reflections/Remembrances of Wilco in Baltimore

1. “It’s Just That Simple” – Bassist John Stiratt assumes lead vocal duties for this lost treasure from the AM era.

2. “Box Full Of Letters” – I’ve seem Wilco more times than I can remember. What I do know is that this was the first time I’d heard this song live. A huge favorite of mine, great to hear, crowd loved it.

3. Pat Sansone has a beard. The multi-talented keys and guitar player is sporting a nice think beard. Normally, not newsworthy, but it was definitely the chatter amongst all the female attendees around my seats.

4. “I’ve watched all 5 seasons of The Wire in the past 6 days” – After butchering the lyrics to “Jesus, Etc,” Tweedy confesses that he’s been on a binge of the HBO hit series The Wire. He admits to wondering if Omar or McNulty are in the crowd, causing him to lose place during the song. (Update: video here)

5. Interlude between “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart” & “Spiders” Lots of noise, sounded like Sonic Youth. I wasn’t really sure where it was going, but knew that I liked it. “Spiders” is a song I’m always disappointed to hear surface in a set list, but end up loving by the time those big chords come in.

6. “Via Chicago” Still remains one of my favorite live tunes by the group. I’ll never tire of hearing it.

7. “Neil Young” Jeff talked about how awesome it was to open for Neil Young. He was conscious each night that they sometimes sound a lot like Neil. He went on to say that he “borrowed” a few things from Neil on “Hate It Here.”

8. “Neck brace” A guy in the front row was in a car accident and sporting a neck brace. That resulted in some back-and-forth banter between him and Jeff. Jeff asked to wear it, then saw how much pain the guy was actually in. It all ended with Jeff sporting said neck brace for the entirety of “Kingpin.” Pat Sansone took a great Polaroid headshot of Jeff during the song.

9. “The Late Greats” Another live favorite. It evokes so much joy and fun. A definite live staple.

10. No New Material – I’ll admit I was a little disappointed there was no new material road tested last night. It’s easy to forgive though when you get two superb encores and two hours of rock and roll.

Update: Check out the stellar shots of the show by Brandon Wu.

Myspace: Wilco

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