Wilco | 05.16.08


"It’s good to be home," Tweedy declared somewhere around the second of three encores to the cheers of a crowd happy to have him there.











Photos: Todd Owyoung 

The Pageant, St. Louis

Wilco brought their one-of-a-kind brand of rock n’ roll "home" for a sold out three-night stint at The Pageant last week, blazing through much of their catalogue to the delight of local fans. Although the band is based in Chicago, front man Jeff Tweedy grew up in Belleville, Ill. and was a founding member the alt-country  pioneering group Uncle Tupelo, who graced many of St. Louis’ favorite music clubs (Mississippi Nights, Cicero’s Basement Bar) during the late 80s and early 90s. Tweedy’s father, a regular at their St. Louis shows, even made it out for the first night.

Friday night’s show, the second of the three, started strong with "Via Chicago," a favorite from the critically acclaimed album Summerteeth. From there, Wilco continued to crank out fan favorites for the next two and half hours straight including half of the tracks on their 2002 masterpiece Yankee Hotel Foxtrot ("I Am Trying to Break Your Heart," "Kamera," "War on War," "Jesus, etc.," "Reservations," and "I’m the Man Who Loves You."). The rest of the show included a nice mix of songs from some of their best records including "Shot in the Arm," "Can’t Stand It" and "I’m Always in Love," from Summerteeth; "Spiders (Kidsmoke)," "Muzzle of Bees," "Theologians," "Handshake Drugs," and "The Late Greats" from A Ghost is Born; and "California Stars" and "Hoodoo Voodoo" from the Mermaid Avenue sessions with Billy Bragg.

{gallery}wilco:::1{/gallery} SEE ALL TODD OWYOUNG’S SHOTS FROM THE SHOW

Say what you will about Tweedy (he seems an enigma much of the time), but one thing is for certain – the man is an entertainer. With a full arsenal of both acoustic and electric guitars (which he switched up on nearly every song, sometimes playing two in one song) and his soulful and powerful voice, Tweedy never falters onstage. "It’s good to be home," he declared somewhere around the second of three encores to the cheers of a crowd happy to have him there.


The amazing guitar acrobatics between Tweedy and guitarist Nels Cline kept the audience craving more (and many glad they purchased tickets to all three nights). Even bassist John Stirratt-the only original band member besides Tweedy and also a former member of Uncle Tupelo-took his turn in the spotlight for "It’s Just That Simple," a song he wrote and sang off the band’s debut album, A.M. Drummer Glenn Kotche both rocked the house and added understated drama and effect throughout the show, particularly on songs like "Misunderstood" and "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart." Multi-instrumentalist Pat Sansone and keyboardist Mikae Jorgensen rounded out the sound for a show that truly couldn’t have been better. 

In a final salute to the hometown crowd, Wilco rocked "Casino Queen" during their encore all three nights, on this night with Tweedy shouting props to fans from the East side. "Anyone from Alton?" he asked to cheers from the balcony, "Dupo? Granite City?"  before launching into the familiar chorus, "Casino Queen/my Lord you’re mean/but I’ll be gamblin’ like a fiend on your tables so green," no doubt inspiring many a late-night trip to the boat.

The band ended the show with a final encore performance of "Late Greats," a song about the mythical bests of rock n’roll – the best band, greatest singer and best song, the one that will never get sung. When Tweedy sings "So good you won’t ever know/I never hear it on the radio/Can’t hear it on the radio," it’s hard not to think he’s talking about them as you shake your head and agree. You won’t hear Wilco on the radio (not much anyway), but if you’re lucky enough to catch them live, you’re in for a rare treat. | Amy Burger


Set List – 05.16.08

Via Chicago

I Am Trying To Break Your Heart

You Are My Face

Muzzle Of Bees

Handshake Drugs 

A Shot In The Arm  


War On War

Jesus, Etc. 

Impossible Germany  

It’s Just That Simple 


Forget The Flowers

California Stars  

Can’t Stand It  


I’m The Man Who Loves You 


E1: Poor Places  


Spiders (Kidsmoke) 

E2: I’m Always In Love 

Hate It Here  


Casino Queen 

Hoodoo Voodoo  

E3: The Late Greats  


For complete setlists of all three nights, visit www.wilcobase.com

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