Arts Desk

Photos: Wilco @ Lyric Opera House, Baltimore

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It's hard to imagine a band like Wilco playing the role of opener, but that's what Jeff Tweedy and company are doing for Neil Young on this current tour. (Tweedy on opening for Young: "It's a little embarrassing to be up there playing songs that sound a lot like... Neil Young songs.") However, last night in Baltimore—the closest they are coming to D.C. this time around—they had the stage to themselves, and took advantage of the opportunity to play their trademark hours-long, two-encore show, complete with tons of old material and only something like three songs from latest album Sky Blue Sky.

The lack of new material was fine with me, because with only one exception I find the songs on that album pretty banal. For me, Wilco is all about the skillful combination of gorgeous songwriting and all-out noise-fuckery, which made the addition of guitarist Nels Cline several years ago a true stroke of genius. While this combination just doesn't shine through in the band's latest album, it still comes out full force in their live show. (And, I'm pretty sure they tour with a Mellotron – who does that anymore?)

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The set list was great, with the highlight for me being "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart," in which the noisy outro segued smoothly into a blistering rendition of "Spiders (Kidsmoke)." Nice to hear them still playing their more out-there material. I think these two were then followed by the unrelentingly melodic "Hummingbird," in which Cline makes his guitar, and many people in the audience, weep.

I should take this opportunity to say that anyone who likes Cline's contributions to Wilco should check out some of his much more obscure work as a bandleader and improviser, like Draw Breath or The Giant Pin from his Nels Cline Singers trio or either of his collaborations with Andrea Parkins and Tom Rainey (Ash and Tabula and Downpour). Avant-garde jazz/free improv that's worlds away from Wilco, but Cline is one of the best in the business at this kind of thing.

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The Lyric Opera House is a nice venue, like a slightly smaller DAR Constitution Hall with an atmosphere more akin to the Strathmore, and was completely sold out. A few more photos from the evening are at Flickr.

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  • David Mencarini

    Wilco at the Lyric Theatre Sunday was a fabulous show. I like all of their material including the understated Sky Blue Sky album. Bit live their songs from A.M. and Being There were absolutely kickin'

    Question: I did not recognize their opening song? What was it?

  • George

    The show last night was amazing. I think they played a perfect mix of good and old. As for the opening song, I am not sure. I went through all their albums and could not figure it out... closest thing I could come up with was Via Chicago.

  • Brandon Wu

    I'm pretty sure the opener was "Sunken Treasure" from Being There. They played "Via Chicago" later in the set... another one of my favorites of theirs, it was awesome.

  • George

    To Brandon:
    I am pretty sure you are right, listening to it again. I always remember the set list incorrectly. I hope someone posts on the web.

  • Steve

    Absolutely definitely the opener was Sunken Treasure! If I remember right they opened their set the second night at the 9:30 back in February with that tune also.

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  • Brandon Wu
  • Mike

    Anybody know who the opening act was?. I am guessing they are called "Peace and Love", since the lead singer kept saying it over and over..

  • Tricia Olszewski

    I hate you all. I was stuck at an early, 100 percent music-free family Christmas 500 miles away.

  • Mac

    Sunken Treasure fer sure.

    Great show with great sound. Classic mix of old and new and how about the double encore with all that power! Red Eyed and Blue / I got

  • Wilcoed

    Great show! opener was Benjy Feree, a DC based artist. I thought the rocked!

  • cbd

    You can grab the bit torrent of my recording here: (flac) or dowbnload the tagged mp3's:

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