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Wilco Live at Ottawa Bluesfest - July 15, 2006


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Wilco Live at Ottawa Bluesfest - July 15, 2006

Concert Review

By Andre Bouchard

jeff_tweedy_wilco_sm.jpg

Jeff Tweedy - Wilco

photo: Mike Bouchard

The small stages at Bluesfest typically provide me with the best entertainment. It's far easier to captivate my attention when audiences are more focused on the artist and what they are trying to do. Wilco enabled me to finally make it to the main stage this year, one day before Bluesfest 2006 was to end. Simply put, it was a superb set but I wish I could have experienced it in a better setting. Too many people were there for seemingly the wrong reasons.

Atmospherically, this evening was how I would like to see the Bluesfest organizers continue to utilize the Saturday night closing slots. The grounds were easy to traverse because it wasn't packed. Rather than bring in a headliner that guarantees struggles they brought in a band that has a legion of hard-core fans along with the normal curious onlookers.

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Airline To Heaven introduced us to a hobbling Tweedy and while he played the rest of the band slowly filtered in. Perfect choice that set the tone for the rest of the evening's music. Appropriate festival fodder, Handshake Drugs, saw Jeff put down his acoustic guitar into the song so that he could pick up an SG and take his turn at soloing which turned into some kind of Alice In Wonderland madness.

Uniquely elaborate, Wilco songs such as the newly penned Impossible Germany hint at being a ballad but one isn't so sure. Somewhat dual-personality in nature, this number featured three guitars harmonizing in perfect climax. It was wonderful to behold. I Am Trying To Break Your Heart showcased Tweedy's vocals, while not technically sound, they definitely are far more emotive than most performers. Organized chaos reared its head and a plane seemed to be taking off as the song built to a behemoth finish.

By the time the band got to Misunderstood, the same thing could almost be said. The extended cadence of `Nothing' came forward again and again in a call and response that only got louder each time the band brought it back. Walken, the last of the new songs we would see, featured a great piano shuffle. I'm The Man Who Loves You seemed like an attempt to summon Neil Young with its dark and penetrating solos.

The rock experiment continued throughout the encores. Tweedy continued to gain favor with his Canadian fans exclaiming his love for our kindness and how "nice" we are. On a number of occasions he tried his best to get people out of their seats but from my vantage point, I am unsure if he completely failed or partially succeeded.

In the end it was an even distribution of songs from Wilco's ever-growing catalogue, including three new numbers. A shaggy and scruffy Tweedy looked surprisingly limber considering he is in a cast or brace due to stress fractures from jogging. Hyped as one of the better live bands, this evening proved their concert adulation holds true albeit the majority of attendee's finally decided to pay attention once the encores began. It was a vibrant concert that seemed to get lost amongst the crowd.

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