I went to see Wilco in Leeds and they were so good I may never need to see another band again. I’ve been waiting so long for this I’m not even sure I was there.
Three songs in and Jeff Tweedy throws someone out for filming the gig.
This is the wrong foot we have got off on.
“I’m sorry you had to see my scary face,” he tells us later.
Someone shouts, “We love you Jeff!”
“Oh, good!” He replies. “We love you too! We wrote a song about it. We played it already. We played it first.”
They opened with Wilco (the song) as we all knew they would.
I’m very sweaty. We had to run for the train. I’m there with Chris and he spilled coffee down his shirt an hour before our originally intended train. So he went to a dry cleaner then bought a new shirt.
In Leeds we are looking for food. We see a Nando’s.
“We’d have to sit in…but shit, for Nando’s it’s worth it, we have time,” I convince him, or I would have if not for the prices. We settle on Subway.
“What the fuck are you doing?” I ask when he sits down.
“Aren’t we eating in?”
“Are you fucking kidding? You think we have any fucking time at all?”
“But 10 minutes ago,” he begins.
“That. Was. Nando’s!” I tell him.
“So in America, when we play this song, everyone sings along and we all take a break,” Jeff Tweedy is telling us. He's talking about Jesus, etc
“I don’t expect it to happen here, but you want to sing along, feel free. If I think you’re doing a good job I’ll just step away from the mic, like this.”
It’s more a sway.
“This is a soft sell; we’re not a hard sell rock band. You don’t have to sing along!”
Almost immediately he’s stepped away from the mic.
He seems more into the gig now, swinging his mic and throwing it so high it looks un-catch able, yet he does.
The first encore starts with Poor Places, the psychedelic ending building and tearing ahead taking us to some immense and unrecognisable froth of distortion.
When I feel as lost as I ever have, I recognize the simple drum beat from Spiders and Wilco are concentrating so hard on making this music.
Everyone should be able to go and see Wilco whenever they need.
Jeff gets us to clap; he wants our arms as high in the air as possible. But my armpits stink from the sweating.
In the second encore, during Impossible Germany, the band members gravitate towards each other. Jeff and his second guitarist, Pat Sansone, I believe, face each other and John Stirratt drifts over to Glenn Kotche whilst Nels Cline, who never speaks, plays a solo that might have been going on forever. His face is constant motion. Only Mikael Jorgensen doesn’t move, since he’s at the piano.
All gig I’ve been looking over at this one sound guy, who wears the beard of a metal band. I can see him enjoying it, maybe taking some ideas, but he never nods his head along with the rest of us.
“Ok,” says Jeff, “do you want to hear something from A.M or Summerteeth?”
We cheer for Summerteeth.
“Man,” he asks, “why does everyone pick on A.M?”
Soon they’re playing Can’t Stand It, the song I wanted.
Chris and I stay with Eleanor. Inside her house I can see my breath. I watch Beetlejuice and spend time, instead of sleeping, just going in circles of I can’t be a writer, I can’t be an illustrator, I can’t grow old.
Jeff Tweedy screams like no one I’ve ever heard. It is exactly what I needed.