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   Tuesday, May 14, 2002  
To the Astoria where Wilco played to a full house. Now reallyrather has never been a devoted Wilco fan - prior to the new album it's only been things like I'm always in love and Nothing'severgonna.., back-to-back pop bullseyes on Summerteeth which have really hit the mark. Neither of which featured last night. The main set was, naturally enough, new album-heavy and definitely no bad thing. Listening to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot the obvious question that arises is just what was it that had those Reprise execs running scared? As countless reviews will tell, it's a classy collection, solidly rewarding and highly accessible despite the scare stories about Jim O'Rourke's production (which in places actually rescues rather than ruins things). On stage the band attempt to reproduce the album's sound and, here and there, to push it further. The most galvanising moments were those which signposted the band's burgeoning alt-rock tendencies - the brief electric storm into which Ashes of American flags crashed and burned, similarly new song Unified theory of everything. At these points Tweedy's characteristic clubfooted shambling was halted and he became rooted to the spot, shaking as though electricity coursed through him. Determinedly downbeat, JT barely spoke thoughout, all but a couple of numbers coming and going without identification. One thing's for sure, he's not about to be invited to host the MTV Awards anytime soon. Extended encores drew on the band's solid canon of bar room twang and crisp boogie - all appreciably of a standard but not (personally) quite so compelling.

[reallyrather wondered once or twice what someone like Josh Rouse makes of the new Wilco material. With songs like Kamera and Jesus, etc they would seem to be moving their vaultingly ambitious tanks onto territory he was quietly staking out for himself on Under cold blue stars.]

Coming to cinemas later in the year is Wilco - the movie, a potentially fascinating fly-on-the-wall documentary on the making of YHF. Salon last week carried an interview with director Sam Jones: 'The day before he was going to start filming, Wilco fired drummer Ken Coomer. "Jeff pulled me aside and said, 'I gotta talk to you...We've let Ken go.' That was kind of a shocker." From there, it got worse...'

According to the album credits, Jay Bennett had a major hand in the tunes on YHF. He's presently on the road himself with new partner Edward Burch promoting their new album The Palace at 4am. Interestingly, Centro-matic's Will Johnson and Matt Pence make up the rest of the band. The spirit of co-operation is also evident elsewhere - The Long Winters are touring with Ken Stringfellow, the latter joining the LWs on keyboards & vocals and the LWs forming Ken's band for the duration...
   posted by SMc at 11:29 AM |