Wilco and Andrew Bird at Chicago’s Riviera Theater 2/15/08


Wilco recently bunkered down in their hometown of Chicago to play a five-night run at the historic Riviera Theater. The catch was that the band decided over the course of the run that they would play every single song in their musical catelogue. Stretching all the way back to their first record, A.M.

What I love about Wilco is that each album is very different and offers unique pleasures, it’s why it’s not hard to imagine fans loving one particular record or being disapointed with certain releases. We’ll just say it, but if we were in Chicago we’d want to hear some choice cuts off of Summer Teeth. That’s our favorite Wilco album.

Needless to say, we couldn’t be there. However, thank the gods that Ryan from Muzzle of Bees was. Sounds like a fantastic night of music. No opening bands, two full sets of music, an encore and holy crap – nine songs with Chicago violinist Andrew Bird!

The show began delicate enough with Jeff Tweedy taking the stage alone with acoustic guitar for first verse of ?Someone Else?s Song? before being joined by the rest of the band one by one. In an evening filled with highlights, having Andrew Bird join the band on violin for nine songs was not only a huge surprise, but made an already beautiful live number like ?Jesus, Etc? all the more special. For the second night in a row The Total Pros horn section rounded out both standards and newer recordings, I?d expect them to be present for the remainder of the residency.

Hearing ?Hotel Arizona? and other Being There tracks was especially special and it was wonderful watching bassist John Stirratt exchange instruments with Jeff Tweedy and take lead vocals on the A.M. track ?Just That Simple.? Unex

pected as those songs were, the biggest surprise was hearing ?Dash 7,? which had never been performed live by the band before. After playing ?Lonely One? the house lights came up and the band appeared to be ready to call it a night. The PA began blasting The Presidents of the United States of America?s ?Peaches,? but the crowd refused to quiet or move from their place. That lead to the band returning for a energetic two song encore which concluded with the Mermaid Avenue number ?Hoodoo Voodoo? that featured dueling guitar solos from guitarists Nels Cline and Pat Sansone.

I?m anxious to watch how the remaining three nights set lists turn out, there are plenty of great songs still left to be played. I?m hoping that these performances lead the band to inject a wider variety of deep cuts and long lost numbers into the set lists of future tours. It would be great to walk into every one of their performances never knowing for sure what your going to get. With a catalog as strong as theirs, they?re one of the few bands that could pull that off night after night.

Just straight jealous. Sounds like a great night of music and a special weekend for Wilco fans in Chicago. On another note, I wish more bands would do this kind of thing and dig deep into their catalogue.


Set One: Someone Else?s Song/Hell Is Chrome/Handshake Drugs/Muzzle of Bees/Via Chicago/I Am Trying To Break Your Heart/Hotel Arizona/Shot In The Arm/Impossible Germany/Just That Simple/When You Wake Up Feeling Old/Too Far Apart/Hate It Here/Jesus, Etc (Andrew Bird)/Forget The Flowers (Andrew Bird)/Dash 7 (Andrew Bird)/Christ For President (Andrew Bird)/Walken (Horns)/I?m The Man Who Loves You (Horns)

Set Two: Late Greats/Heavy Metal Drummer/Red Eyed & Blue (Andrew Bird) ->I Got You (Andrew Bird)/Magazine Called Sunset/Monday (Horns)/Casino Queen/Kingpin/Passenger Side (Andrew Bird)/Dreamer In My Dreams (Andrew Bird)/Lonely One (Andrew Bird)

Encore: ELT/Hoodoo Voodoo

Jesus, Etc. w/ Andrew Bird

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