Wilco Impresses Hard Rock Live Fans
Illinois natives WILCO stopped by Tuesday to grace the Hard Rock with rock and twang, the mellow and explosive stylings of the group led by Jeff Tweedy had a big night planned for Orlando.
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Opening act ROYAL THUNDER started off the night with their rock revival style harrowing Joen Jett in a modern twist. Lead woman Minny Parsonz covered the room in loud riffs and piercing vocals as the crowd mingled around the bar and slowly filled into the venue. Royal Thunder protrude rock out of every orifice. Well done yet they have yet to make it their own, give them a bit more time and and perhaps another album. Big sound mixed with big attitude, Royal Thunder sound like the band in your neighbors garage that should be playing the Hard Rock. Good thing they got out.
The first band ended and I made a lap around the venue, The Hard Rock is a beautiful place, swanky and expensive, but still able to promote itself as a rock venue with history. Wilco took the stage with might. The crowd was mostly older, thirty plus, mostly due to the $50 tickets and the tuesday night during finals week. But the crowd was active, devoted fans, most had probably been fans since ‘95’s A.M.
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Starting the night off with A Ghost is Born’s opening track, At Least That’s What You Said, a perfect soft opening into the crash and screech of the guitar work and multi layered ending that left the room in a dizzy state of excitement. The show had begun, the room finally settling in for the ride. They played Red-Eyed and Blue and I Got You(End of a Century), both off their second album exhibiting the great mix of albums they withheld throughout the show. Tweedy whistling towards the rafters filled with fans and critics alike.
Wilco is able to progress yet hold onto to their style and sound. The wide array of music spread across their discography is always inheritably Wilco, yet we can sense the difference in even Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and A Ghost is Born. The themes and song configurations are all traits of Tweedy that will always exist but the execution and delivery is different, the stylings have progressed. Always evolving and re casting in the mold of alcohol and Chicago.
The live performance of Wilco is casual, yet perfected. They are able to blend all aspect of their catalogue into the show. A.M.’s searching southern twang is heard throughout the song, but the cosmic guitar freakouts of A Ghost is Born isn’t lost when playing SummerTeeth tracks. Most significantly is Via Chicago, when during the dreamlike verse, the other members of the band rapidly explode into a crashing tyrant, as Tweedy stands calmly strumming and singing his song that has been washed out by the noise.
The setlist for the night was perfectly paced and the setlist flowed across all albums, even the Mermaid Ave that Billy Bragg had adapted with Wilco of unpublished Woody Guthrie songs. The newest Album, The Whole Love, was played and well received by old and new fans alike. The standout track of the album being The Art of Almost, a driving psychedelic daydream that is the progression I mentioned earlier. This track is distinguishable from the most wilco songs, yet the album is layered with different sounds. Showing the band has grown, yet been able to cultivate the sound that started them. Later in the night, they performed another track of the newest album, Born Alone, which echo’s SummerTeeth Wilco. The ability to adapt to the change and master the tried and true is what makes Wilco a standout band, both live and in the studio.
I’d like to add to this, that if you haven’t seen Wilco live yet know them, you will be happy to know that Tweedy’s live vocals are as haunting and hallowed live as the album recordings. Able to sing at low decibels in moments of vulnerability, then scream out his frustrations in the times of anger and climax. May the vocals of Jeff Tweedy stay strong, I hope to hear five more albums from this glorious band.
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Wilco ended the night with a double encore. The first being traditional, while the latter was a grand surprise. The stage crew brought out a small drum set and the members played unplugged with two guitars, a lap steel guitar, banjo and melodica. The started with a cover of the old band of Tweedy and bass player John Stirratt called Uncle Tupelo. They followed with a Doug Sahm cover and ending with the beautifully haunting Being There track, Misunderstood. With Tweedy and the crowd chanting together, “I’d like to thank you all for nothing, nothing, nothing.”
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