Concert Review

Wilco Shares Stories With Vermont

Jeff Tweedy of Wilco in Vermont

by Rob Eldridge of Steelesque

Jeff Tweedy asked a strong gathering of Vermonters if they ever “thought he was effeminate” than blame it on his sister. Mainly, because she dressed him as a girl until he knew better…..age 27. This and many other witty exchanges with the very appreciative crowd, which actually did include Tweedy’s sister, kept the mood light and reposeful. Wilco, on the other hand, prepared a setlist that was everything but effeminate. Pulling gems from notable classics Being There, Ghost Is Born and their latest The Whole Love.

Jeff Tweedy- photo by Rob Eldridge (ian eldge) @pghmusicmag Essex VT 2012

Midway Lawn at Champlain Valley Expo, Essex Junction Vermont is an impressive outdoor venue. It offers the fairground appeal which dovetails nicely with Wilco’s americana footprint. The band’s current lineup, which caught stride in 2004 when guitarist Nels Cline and guitarist/keyboardist Patrick Sansone joined Tweedy, founding bassist John Stirratt, drummer Glenn Kotche and keyboardist Mikael Jorgensen.

John Stirratt – Photo by Rob Eldridge for @pghmusicmag Essex, VT 2012

It’s evident that guitarist Nels Cline has been feeding on the energy Tweedy spins. His playing on 2007’s Sky Blue Sky proved his capability but left true Wilco fans wondering if this was the direction “their” band was heading coming out of the Ghost Is Born brilliance. Wilco has always written and performed songs with a careful recipe including two very important ingredients: one part pretty and one part gritty. Cline and Tweedy shared the cooking duties on this beautiful cool evening under a waxing gibbous moon. Which provided a suitable backdrop for tunes like Sunken Treasure and I Might where Tweedy relied on his trusty beat up Martin. Sansone compliments their live gig going between the keys and guitar. His mannish stride fills the appropriate gaps with a nice tone that fuels the occasional three guitar line-up.

Wilco has become one of the most confident and dynamic live American bands of our generation. John Stirratt and Glen Kotche have certainly achieved a symbiotic relationship. Stirratt creates bass lines that stress the roots even when playing intricate lines. There is some wiggle room in his playing because Kotche is such an excellent drummer. However, you must be judicious and frugal when sidestepping the root and these two never sway your ear in the wrong direction. You couple this with the swelling charm that exudes from Mikael Jorgensen’s keyboard style and Tweedy can’t fail.

Tweedy – Photo by Rob Eldridge (ian eldge) for @pghmusicmag Essex, VT 2012

All evening the band weaved through cuts from their catalogue with Tweedy announcing that they were going bring it. He kept his promise when the opening track of the encore, Art Of Almost, jumped off and brought the hippies off the afghan blankets and into a pagan ritual mosh. Okay….maybe not a mosh but it’s the most excited I’ve seen a Vermont crowd on a Sunday.

It was nice to take PMM on the road and into Vermont. Great state with uber cool people. Sorry Pittsburgh….Wilco dodged us this time but will be hitting Columbus, Ohio. 04 Aug 2012 / Columbus, OH / LC Pavilion


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3 replies »

  1. Are you sure Tweedy was playing a Martin and not a Rickenbacker on “I Might,” like he has at every other show on this tour?

      • Tweedy changes guitars after EVERY song, so it can be rather difficult to keep up. If you were in the photo pit for the first three songs it would have been:
        Dawned on Me: Jazzmaster
        War on War: Martin
        I Might: Rickenbacker