Wilco/Joanna Newsom at the Hollywood Bowl

As I mentioned in my last post, I haven’t been to many shows this summer.  So, when I belatedly heard that Wilco was going to be at the Hollywood Bowl last Sunday, I figured it was sold out and it was another missed chance for a show this summer.  But, suprisingly there were still seats left so we snapped up 3 for me, Sarah and her sister.  They were way in the back, but that was ok.  I’ve seen Wilco two other time and they put good shows on both times.

Opening up was Joanna Newsom.  Sarah is a fan, I’ve warmed up to her.  Her voice can be a make or break proposition for a lot of people, I feel like she’s toned down the shrillness over time which I think is a good thing.  She was an interesting choice as an opener, she’s not quite the rocking opener you might expect Wilco to have.  She had her harp with her front and center; and was supported by a backing band.  I’m no harp connoisseur, but she sure makes some pretty music with it.  It’s not the kind of stuff to get you out of your seat dancing, but it was a pleasant accompaniment to the sun setting and the moon rising over Griffith Observatory in the distance.  Newsom got a laugh from me as she mentioned the “doomsday clock” that was ticking away in front of her as she announced this would probably be her last song.

After the stage change, Wilco entered to a mostly packed house (there were still a good bit of open seats in the upper reaches of the Bowl where we were sitting.  I’d read complaints about the acoustics up high in the bowl but I’d hadn’t noticed anything when I saw LCD Soundsystem there.  But I did notice that the sound was awful muddy for the first couple songs.  The sound seemed to improve throughout the set.  On the other hand, I will give props to the Bowl for allowing people to bring in their own food and drink to their seats (at least for non-“lease” events), so we got to have snacks and a glass of wine that didn’t cost us an arm and a leg.

As expected, Wilco put on a good show.   They ranged through a variety of songs, even reaching back way back into their catalog for their two song second encore.  Yep, they came back out for a second encore.  The first encore was full of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot goodness with Ashes of American Flags, Heavy Metal Drummer, and I’m The Man Who Loves You.  And unlike previous sets where they’ve played my favorite Wilco song to lead off the concert (which is always somewhat a bummer when your favorite tune gets lead-off duty), they closed the pre-encore numbers with A Shot In The Arm.

Jeff Tweedy was a lot less talkative than in other shows I’ve seen or heard, which was a shame as he usually gets some good stage banter going.  This was not to say he wasn’t energetic, as both he and the band, as usual, gave a good effort with Nels Cline dropping several screeching guitar solos that got the crowd going.  All in all, a good show.

Video of Born Alone (my favorite track from the new album The Whole Love) from the show.  That muddy sound I was talking about apparently wasn’t solely for those in the nosebleeds:

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