Five quick thoughts on Wilco's latest Columbus stop:
(1) By my count, I've seen Wilco 11 times, starting a decade ago in Cincinnati circa "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot," so this review comes from the perspective of a semi-fanboy. That said, even though they became legendary by pushing roots rock in an experimental direction, it's hard to imagine a more approachable band than Wilco. On this night, that was extra true, with Jeff Tweedy in exceptionally goofy form and a setlist heavy on pop-rock tracks past and present.
(2) As someone who fell in love with the band in the wake of "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot," I've always had a thing for their darker, more experimental material. It's not that I'm against the snappy pop stuff, I just prefer it as punctuation between the woozy and brooding material. So to hear three tracks from debut album "A.M." at the expense of stuff like "Poor Places," "Misunderstood," "Spiders (Kidsmoke)" and "Laminated Cat" was kind of a bummer. (Ironic that the absence of bummer songs would be viewed as a bummer, but that's the critic you're dealing with.) Even midtempo melancholy tracks in the vein of "Jesus, Etc."/"She's a Jar"/"You Are My Face" would have been welcome. But hey, at least they gave me an early stretch that included "Sunken Treasure," "Hell Is Chrome" and "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart."
(3) Notably absent from Saturday's setlist: any songs from "Wilco (The Album)." I know I trashed it in my show preview, but it's pretty surprising to see a band completely omit their second most recent record.
(4) Usually Wilco plays two encores, but they jammed everything into one seven-song mega-encore Saturday. I assume the show must have had an 11 p.m. curfew, and they were scrambling to meet it? Or maybe they just realized how many people in the crowd (including me!) were sprouting gray hair, and they simply wanted to be respectful of bedtimes.
(5) Speaking of gray hair: Seeing four out of six members of Wilco joining Lee Ranaldo Band during his opening set reminded me of the long history of camaraderie between Wilco and Sonic Youth, and it made me sad about the Sonic Youth breakup to an extent I didn't expect. Ranaldo's performance was solid, though, ably grafting his noise history into rock that's sounding increasingly classic these days. Like Wilco, Ranaldo and his music are aging gracefully.