Last time we saw Wilco play—two years ago on the A Ghost Is Born tour—it wasn’t until the third encore that they seemed ready to relax. Having performed a remarkable, polished set and two exceedingly strong follow ups, they were called out by the fans one last time and loosened up for a rendition of The Late Greats. Friday night’s set in Lansing was an altogether different affair.
This time around it seemed that the band had hit the road not to showcase a new album but to have some fun. Their entrance and the first two songs was almost jaunty, and they played around with some arrangements including a guitar solo early on that could have become painfully self-indulgent in the hands of a lesser player than Nels Cline. Jeff Tweedy was unusually quiet on stage, a fact that he acknowledged during one of his rare comments, but he assured us that he was having a great time.
It’s far too common that people make predictions about a band’s new material based on the live sets they were playing in the run-up to the release of a new album; predictions that subsequently turn out to be entirely wrong. Wilco helped offset that by not playing much new material, simply indicating that, on the strength of their performance, the album will be well worth waiting for.