Jeff Tweedy / Glenn Kotche
The Moore; Seattle, WA

[02-02-06]

Jeff Tweedy's solo tours have
become the stuff of legends. The audience is guaranteed classics from Tweedy's
[almost] 20 years of performing. A little Being There here, a splotch
of Anodyne there, and hopefully a taste of Down by the Old
Mainstream
. On this particular Groundhog's Day, there was no talk of
seeing/not seeing shadows or Bill Murray movie of the same name--just some
fantastic performers leaving it all on stage.

But before the ladies could swoon over Tweedy's mangy appearance, they swooned
over Wilco's equally dreamy drummer Glenn Kotche (pictured). It's a little
intimidating to walk into a theatre and see a drum kit set up. You fear the
worst. No one can sit through an hour's worth of drum fills and solos (unless
they're a dedicated Dream Theater fan). However, Kotche's set was a knock out
that didn't rely on cheap drumming tricks but rather on the various sounds and
samples he could coax out of every piece of percussion he had at hand. Kotche
started out his set with the surprisingly upbeat and multi-layered title track
from his upcoming solo album, Mobile. He followed it up with the
marathon "Solo Interpretation of the Balinese Monkey Chant." Starting off with
chirping crickets, the song builds into a fervor of unique drumming,
percussive tricks and innovative sampling. Kotche uses his kit as a magic hat,
pulling out various toys and devices to create unusual sounds that become part
of a song instead of upstaging it. Watching him drum solo just makes a Wilco
fan appreciate his talent even more. By the time he closed his set with a
musical interpretation of the children's book Where the Wild Things Are
and a couple more cuts from the forthcoming Mobile, I couldn't help but
think his talents may be wasted in Wilco no matter how outlandish the band may
grow.

With a tough act to follow, Jeff Tweedy strolled out on stage and launched
into "Sunken Treasure," silencing the naysayers with a flawless performance of
a Being There favorite. Of course, as soon as he finished the screamers
started flinging requests and adoration at Tweedy. After a few more songs,
Tweedy finally acknowledged the screamers with the best jokes and observations
I've seen him throw out. Tweedy has finally arrived as a performer comfortable
talking in front of a crowd. I can't do the stories justice, but there were
just as many laughs as there were claps and yelps of appreciation. Tweedy
peppered his comedy routine with plenty of fan favorites. "Bob Dylan's 49th
Beard" never sounded more crisp; "Pieholden Suite" was as beautiful as ever;
"A Shot in the Arm" held the same desperation as the full band version. Tweedy
also threw in "The Ruling Class," an upcoming cut off of the latest Loose Fur
album. The track tackles Jesus' return in a humorous light.

The first encore started off with "I Can't Keep from Talking" before Glenn
came back out to accompany Jeff on some of the more rocking numbers. After
various requests throughout the show, Tweedy and Kotche obliged the crowd by
playing "Laminated Cats," along with crowd pleasers "The Late Greats" and
"Heavy Metal Drummer." The duo exited once more before the crowd coaxed Tweedy
back out for the highlights of the show: "Gun" and "Acuff-Rose." It's always a
pleasure to hear Uncle Tupelo songs in a live setting, and even better when
it's just Tweedy and a guitar. The crowd left full and satisfied, full of
stories to tell those who didn't make the show. Just ask any of them about
Tweedy's new gym regime or the self-assuring voices in his head--you'll be in
for a storytelling delight.

  

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