Wilco @ Barrowlands, Glasgow, 26 Sep

Wilco energise a packed Barrowlands with a two hour set that takes in 26 songs spanning their 25-year career

Live Review by Lewis Wade | 02 Oct 2019
  • Wilco

Kicking off with a couple of new songs (from new album Ode to Joy), just the novelty of Jeff Tweedy and co being onstage brings a buzz to the excitable, expectant audience. Then comes I Am Trying To Break Your Heart, an absolute giant of a song complete with Nels Cline's first foray into the free jazz guitar stylings that will come to define large portions of the night. Suddenly the crowd is not just alert, but energised, and after another couple of crowd-pleasers (Kamera, Handshake Drugs), they're ready to follow the band anywhere.

The way in which they manage to combine slick (and immense) technical proficiency – Cline and Tweedy switch guitars after every song – with a languorously laid-back demeanour shows a band truly at ease with each other, and ready to concentrate on the matter at hand. Tweedy is tight-lipped throughout, just offering the odd “thanks” or exhorting the audience to buy beer for multi-instrumentalist Pat Sansone. And with good reason – there's a lot to get through in just two hours, with a 26-song set that spans the full 25 years of Wilco.

The yearning, contemplative lyricism is understandably front and centre, but this is far from The Jeff Tweedy Show, with Glenn Kotche providing a range of flourishes beyond the typically chugging alt-country drums. Cline is frequently the true star, unleashing some apocalyptic skronk all over Via Chicago that is legitimately startling (though not to the unflappable Tweedy) and demonstrating his technical prowess, seemingly falling into a trance during some impossibly intricate soloing on Impossible Germany.

The hits come thick and fast as we race towards the finale, with new songs weaving their way amongst the likes of Jesus, Etc., I'm the Man Who Loves You and a superlative Misunderstood. Though not incongruous, there's a certain sparkle that comes with the old songs that the new ones simply can't match up to (despite their evident polish). A three-song encore culminates in alt-country all-timer The Late Greats, yet another reminder of the depth of the Wilco back catalogue, a towering behemoth that shows little sign of subsiding.