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Taking flight

Pabst Theatre
Milwaukee, WI
April 15, 2009
Wilco Wilco Wilco

Story by Brett Taylor
Photos by Gypsy Davey

During the middle bridge of "Impossible Germany" Wilco seemed to take flight like a 747 leaving the end of the runway, Wednesday night at the Pabst Theatre. The Chicago band showed an eager crowd exactly what endless touring can do to shape the live chops of a well seasoned band. Jeff Tweedy and company seemed relaxed and comfortable, interacting and joking with the sold out room. Now that they have completed their upcoming new album due out in June, the band relished in getting some time just to focus on playing some of the older material and having some fun without the pressure of the studio or new creativity. Still, Wilco took this opportunity to put the finishing touches on the new opus, by allowing fans in Milwaukee to take part in a photo shoot that Tweedy says might be used as the new cover art.

Wilco hit the stage with the subdued "Hell Is Chrome" from the A Ghost Is Born LP and continued the mellow mood for most of the first half of the show. Guitarist Nels Cline added his avant frenetic leads to many of the songs, drawing hoots and shout outs from the adoring crowd. During a lighter moment, Nels strutted the fashion catwalk after one audience member remarked on his tomato red high-water slacks. This sketch allowed for terminally somber Tweedy to show off his lighter side and comment that his jean jacket, (circa 1995) still smelled like ketchup, mulch and old band-aids. Along with Cline, the other musician that cannot be denied is Drummer Glen Kotche. One of the only true percussionists in rock music, he plays the drums like a painter flourishing brushes at a canvas. Original Wilco bassist John Stirrat tethers the group down with solid bass lines and often overlooked harmony vocals.

As the band took the stage for the set of first encores they pulled out the feedback drenched "Misunderstood" from Being There. As the band became more comfortable with the room and were clearly having a good time, I could sense that they were going out to blow the roof off the Pabst. Multi Instrumentalist Pat Sansone flexing his guitar god muscles and posturing with Townsend windmills during the finale of "Winding Wheel" leaving the crowd wanting more. Drawing big cheers as well, was when Tweedy sported the hometown Milwaukee Brewers baseball cap gaining the easy approval of the crowd and eliciting boos from visiting Cubs fans. But as Tweedy declared earlier in the show "...We are laying down some roots in Milwaukee." We can only hope this will bring them back to the area this summer to show off some of the new material.

Wilco Set list
Wednesday April 15, 2009
1. Hell Is Chrome
2. Company In My Back
3. Remember The Mountain Bed
4. At Least That's What You Said
5. You Are My Face
6. She's A Jar
7. I Am Trying To Break Your Heart
8. Handshake Drugs
9. shouldn't Be Ashamed
10. War On War
11. Jesus Etc.
12. Impossible Germany
13. Forget The Flowers
14. Walken
15. I'm The Man Who Loves You
Encore 1
16. Misunderstood
17. Hummingbird
18. Shot In The Arm
Encore 2
19. Hate It Here
20. Box Full of Letters
21. Late Greats
22. Red Eyed And Blue
23. I Got You
24. Casino Queen
25. I'm A Wheel

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