No, this isn’t the Star Wars you’re thinking of, but maybe it should be. Wilco, one of the greatest Americana and experimental indie rock bands of the past two decades, released an album named after the monolithic sci-fi franchise in the summer of 2015, and now the band is on the road in support of the strong record.
The headline here is that Wilco sure seem to have faith in their new record, as the band played the album in its entirety at their gig at the State Theatre in Portland, ME last night. It was an impressive 32-song set that spanned their illustrious career.
Star Wars gains new life in a live environment: The quiet fury of “Picked Ginger” becomes more boisterous and kinetic, while the noisy crescendo of “You Satellite” takes off in a way it just doesn’t on the album. More classic-Wilco-sounding tracks like “Taste The Ceiling” felt more familiar and showed why the band playing them has been a consistent part of the musical zeitgeist since its inception.
Wilco sounded confident–as they should, considering how routine touring the country must be for them at this point. But if there is any complacency in their routine, it doesn’t manifest itself on stage, as among other highlight numbers, the group busted out a fiery and jam-tastic rendition of “Impossible Germany” that proved guitarist Nels Cline has lost nary a step over the years.
Wilco showed no signs of fatigue, which is all the more impressive considering that the night’s performance wasn’t even their first of the day: the group played a low-key gig to 200 people at a local record store earlier in the day, as a token of appreciation for their fans.
Opening act William Tyler summarized the general consensus about Wilco nicely, saying the group is one we’ll be telling our grandchildren about. He’s by no means wrong, and Tyler, who is also a member of alternative country group Lambchop, is no slouch himself. His instrumental guitar compositions à la John Fahey and Roy Harper were alternately serene and enticing, especially “A Portrait of Sarah,” the key track from his fantastic and engaging 2013 album Impossible Truth.
Find Wilco’s upcoming tour dates on their website, check out the setlist and our photo gallery below, and share your memories from the last time you saw Wilco (or William Tyler) perform live. But before we get to that stuff, we took all of the photos we shot of Wilco and Tyler (even ones not in our gallery below) and turned them into something like time lapse GIFs:
- “EKG” (played from tape)
- “Random Name Generator”
- “The Joke Explained”
- “You Satellite”
- “Taste the Ceiling”
- “Pickled Ginger”
- “Where Do I Begin”
- “Cold Slope”
- “King of You”
- “At Least That’s What You Said”
- “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart”
- “Art of Almost”
- “You Are My Face”
- “Box Full of Letters”
- “Heavy Metal Drummer”
- “I’m the Man Who Loves You”
- “Dawned on Me”
- “Impossible Germany”
- “Red-Eyed and Blue”
- “I Got You (At the End of the Century)”
- “Outtasite (Outta Mind)”
- [Encore] “Spiders (Kidsmoke)”
- [Acoustic encore] “Misunderstood”
- “I’m Always in Love”
- “It’s Just That Simple”
- “Casino Queen”
- “California Stars” (Billy Bragg & Wilco cover)
- “A Shot in the Arm”
IMAGES: Derrick Rossignol