It was a soft and soggy night in Central Park on Friday for Wilco's second night at Summerstage, a fact that was not lost on frontman Jeff Tweedy. He remarked to the drenched, subdued crowd at one point, "You sound wet." Nevertheless, Rumsey Playfield was nearly filled as fans turned out to see Wilco perform a 24-song set despite the weather.
At this point, Wilco is the preeminent American touring rock band—even though there was a loss of urgency and spark in Sky Blue Sky and Wilco (The Album), the band could still conjure up some of the old magic on the road, feeding off fans who knew every word to "Hell Is Chrome." But touring behind their excellent, texture-filled new record The Whole Love seems to have revived the band entirely, and many of the new songs carried that feeling: "Dawned on Me" submerged its lyrics in a biting arrangement, "Art Of Almost" contains the most exciting coda of any Wilco song in nearly a decade, and "One Sunday Morning" is a masterpiece of subtly and attention.
Tweedy called Manhattan "adorbs" at one point—the cutesyness of the sentiment seemed to be reflected in the setlist selection, which favored some of Wilco's brightest, most crowd-friendly tunes. "California Stars," "Jesus Etc." and "Heavy Metal Drummer" were all big arena sing-alongs, for better or worse. The highlights of the night included a muscular version of "Red-Eyed And Blue," an jagged take on "Pot Kettle Black," the fantastically-sung "Whole Love," and set closer "I Got You." It may not have been a "Spiders"-kind of evening, but considering the conditions and the early start time, most fans seemed satisfied leaving the park...and we still got to enjoy all those "nothing's" in encore opener "Misunderstood."
You can download/stream Wilco's set from Central Park on Thursday night courtesy of NYCTaper—that setlist included classics such as "At Least That's What You Said," "She's A Jar," "Ashes of American Flags" and "Hummingbird." Wilco will also play Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, MD tonight—you can stream the whole show (including opener Nick Lowe) at NPR. And if you haven't seen their full set on Letterman last week, watch it now. Below, check out one more video from Friday night's show, as well as the complete setlist.
One Sunday Morning (Song for Jane Smiley's Boyfriend)
Art Of Almost
Bull Black Nova
I Am Trying To Break Your Heart
Pot Kettle Black
Heavy Metal Drummer
Dawned On Me
A Shot in the Arm
I'm The Man Who Loves You
Red-Eyed And Blue
I Got You (At The End Of The Century)