Wilco, Purl­ing Hiss

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - Go Out -

“I think we’re still prob­a­bly most com­fort­able in a nice-sized club or small the­ater. But we’ve got­ten to where we can re­ally adapt to the big­ger stages and we can ex­pand our pro­duc­tion in ways that make for a good show. And that’s not easy. We looked at it as a chal­lenge for a long time.”

Tweedy is quick to point out that Wilco re­mains a mu­si­cal out­fit first and fore­most. “Well, we don’t stand up and throw shapes (strike poses) at the au­di­ence. We still pre­dom­i­nantly let the mu­sic do the talk­ing. But I think the songs you choose to present is ob­vi­ously go­ing to make a dif­fer­ence,” he says.

“There are some songs that just aren’t ever go­ing to reach past the 10th row. But we’re for­tu­nate to have a ton of ma­te­rial, and we can draw upon the stuff that’s a lit­tle bit big­ger and reaches a lit­tle bit fur­ther out to the nether regions of a large au­di­ence. It’s like Neil Young said: ‘You gotta be singing like you’re singing to the last per­son in the last row.’ I don’t think that’s a bad way to look at it.”

Wilco’s re­cent set lists have found them bunch­ing tracks from spe­cific al­bums. The group’s now-long­stand­ing lineup — which in­cludes bas­sist John Stir­ratt, drum­mer Glenn Kotche, gui­tarist Nels Cline and multi-in­stru­men­tal­ists Pat San­sone and Mikael Jor­gensen — is an es­pe­cially ver­sa­tile unit, ca­pa­ble of con­vinc­ingly mus­ter­ing tunes stretch­ing the band’s en­tire cat­a­log, from 1995’s de­but, to last year’s

“Some songs we play bet­ter than we’ve ever been able to play. This band is much more finely tuned to all the dif­fer­ent ma­te­rial,” Tweedy says. “We can play any­thing off of any record, pretty much. It might not be per­fect, but we’ll try it.”

Con­certs on the group’s cur­rent South­ern swing have in­cluded mul­ti­ple en­cores filled with ear­lier ma­te­rial, es­pe­cially songs off 1996’s dou­ble- disc triumph,

which is a boon to the group’s long­time fans.

“There are def­i­nitely songs that I’ve come to ap­pre­ci­ate more over time. At one point, I re­ally wanted to out­grow them,” Tweedy says. “And I think Wilco did out­grow them. But now it’s kind of nice to play them. I rec­og­nize the fact that there are peo­ple com­ing who are ex­cited to hear songs that have been a part of their lives for a long time.

“That’s not to say you shouldn’t force peo­ple to lis­ten to the stuff you’re most ex­cited about, too. I think you should be squarely planted look­ing for­ward,” he says.

“But to be in a po­si­tion of hav­ing some­thing that peo­ple want from you that you can give them is a nice thing. I don’t feel like it’s pan­der­ing at all. I think it’s ac­knowl­edg­ing and hon­or­ing the fact that all mu­sic is a col­lab­o­ra­tion with the lis­tener. That’s cer­tainly the way we feel about it.”

Zo­ran Or­lic

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