Written by Samuel Barker
Apr 23, 2005 at 08:00 PM
ImageIt had been close to ten years since Wilco last played Houston…nine years and four months to be exact. Jeff Tweedy was the long-haired one from Uncle Tupelo who had his new band, Wilco, and the band was still finding its sound and was touring on A.M. while merely previewing some songs from Being There, which had yet to be released.A lot has changed since Tweedy and company were last in Houston. First, they were no longer in the dark confines of the Satellite Lounge, they had easily sold out the Verizon Wireless Theater and filled the place to the brim. Only Tweedy and bassist John Stirratt were left from that lineup and the sound has little resemblance to the twangy alternative country of A.M. Wilco has become the indie pop darlings of the world, fresh off a Grammy win.

So, after ten years, as a faint light fell upon Tweedy, a video screen lit and the opening notes of At Least That’s What You Said rang out, the absence had ended and the audience erupted only to quickly silence as Tweedy began singing. The instrumental break set the pace for the night as Wilco extended their songs and brought them to life rather than stick to their albums’ structures. Image

The night was not without flaws as on Muzzle of Bees, guitarist Nels Cline lost his guitar signal a few times and Tweedy lost his guitar signal a few times, but these defects were not on the band’s head and were smoothed over rather nicely. A newly reformed smoker, Tweedy had a few outbursts with fans that were acting disorderly or being rude to those around them, but once again, is that not what musicians who care about their audience do?

Sticking to a set list heavy with songs from their newer releases, Wilco delivered their noise-laden creations with relative ease, giving the night a high energy feel for the entire 120 minute duration of the show. Always in Love, I’m The Man Who Loves You and I’m A Wheel stood out in the set beautifully. Of course, old offerings made their way into the set, including an unplanned addition of Passenger Side into the encore and closing with California Stars from their Mermaid Avenue album with Billy Bragg.

When will Wilco come back to Houston again? They left in November of 1995 searching for a future and they returned in 2005 at the front of the pack. Let’s just hope they don’t wait for another major career alteration to come back or it could be another decade.

Set List:
At Least That’s What You Said
Muzzle of Bees
I’m Trying To Break Your Heart
Handshake Drugs
Shot In The Arm
Jesus, Etc.
War on War
Always in Love
I’m The Man Who Loves You
Poor Places
Spiders (Kidsmoke)

Encore 1:
Candy Floss
Late Greats
I’m A Wheel

Encore 2:
Passenger Side
California Stars