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Wilco at The Palace, Saint Paul, Mn 11/17/17

November 19, 2017

The Palace is a new venue in the Twin Cities. It is the perfect size for a lot of cult bands. It has a wonderful shabby chic aesthetic and great sight lines. Unfortunately I have been disappointed with the sound – too muddy. Disappointed enough that I was committed to never seeing another show there again.  Then I got a major temptation when Wilco announced a two night stand at The Palace – I resisted and they sold out immediately. A few days later they announced a third show on a Friday night. FOMO overwhelmed me and I bit. Thank goodness I did as this was a great show – one of the best Wilco shows I have witnessed (I have seen them 5 or 6 times).

First let’s get the sound issue out of the way. It sounded better than Ryan Adams and Beck shows I saw earlier this year. Those shows I experienced on the floor. I suspected that the balcony might sound better given the house PA looks biased toward the balcony. My Wilco ticket was in the balcony and sure enough it was better. That being said it is not great – just acceptable. It is good enough for me to rescind my ban on the Palace. But I will definitely be aiming for balcony seats for future shows.

Now on to Wilco – the boys sounded great: passionate, loose and rocking. This was the last night of a three night stand, the last night of the tour and the eve of a planned year-long hiatus. So there was a special vibe. They had a diverse set list (see below) dipping into their full career (including Uncle Tupelo).

Guitarist Nils Cline was absolutely on fire. Every solo was something to behold and ranged from conventional to outright weird. Plus he is fun to watch – lots of odd contortions. The whole band walked the razor’s edge between total rehearsed professionalism and loose garage rock buddies. Most of all there was a joy in their playing – and that was the key word -they were playing. Jeff Tweedy was in great voice and charming in his stage banter. He seems to get the special bond his band has with its audience. He acknowledges without pandering.

Visually they had a stage set that made it look like they were playing in some kind of spooky psychedelic woods. The lighting was dramatic and contributed to the overall effect of the show: delightfully weird.

There were so many highlights and the show gained momentum with each song. As I assembled the set list in a Spotify playlist below (thanks setlist.fm), I recalled how much I liked the performance of each song. I came so close to not seeing Wilco on this tour due to my dislike of The Palace. Thank goodness my FOMO won out. Wilco you reminded me why you are one of my favorite bands.

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From → Music Reviews

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