Prior to last night, it would have been five years since I’d last seen Wilco live, on the Ghost is Born tour at Manchester’s Academy 2 back in 2004. Frontman Jeff Tweedy was in a bit of a bad way back then, having just come out of hospital after a few problems with prescription painkillers. Last night’s show in Leeds was a completely different affair. Tweedy seemed confident, happy, full of energy and for want of a better phrase, up for it.
Wilco played a ‘greatest hits’ set, playing tracks from pretty much every record in their extensive back catalogue. Tweedy also invited the audience to shout out requests and seemed very much in the mood to really engage and break down the fourth wall.
Tweedy and co. put in a set lasting over two hours, and while this length of time is usually a bit too long even for the greatest of bands, in my opinion (yes, that includes you, Radiohead) not so for Wilco.
The whole show seemed to go by in a flash and I could have easily stayed and listened to them all night. The highlight though was the utterly brilliant version of Jesus, Etc from the Yankee Hotel Foxtrot album, sung entirely by the crowd.
I must confess, I really wasn’t expecting this show to be quite as energetic. I suppose, basing my expectations on the gig in Manchester those years ago, I feared the worst. I was very, very pleasantly surprised. Wilco are one of my favourite bands, and last night’s show is a definitely contender to the prize of my top gig of the year so far.
Special thanks to Matthew Rankin at Nonesuch Records for sorting the passes out. Much appreciated.