Wilco at Wolf Trap by Mike Spain

The Lee Ranaldo Band opened for Wilco on Tuesday, July 17, 2012. Ranaldo is best known for his time spent with Sonic Youth – a band he founded and spent three decades as the band’s lead guitarist. I noticed several empty seats during his set which is too bad. His set included a guitar solo done on a violin bow. I really enjoyed his song “Xtina as I Know Her.” Wilco guitarist Nels Cline  sat in during the half hour set.

The Lee Rinaldo Band. Photo courtesy of Wolf Trap.

The empty seats filled up pretty quick before Wilco hit the stage at 9 PM. The band went on to play for nearly two hours and performed 22 songs. Fans rose to their feet as Wilco took the stage. They started their set off with “Dawned on Me” off of their latest release The Whole Love. The music was accompanied by a dazzling light show. One would expect them to play a lot of songs from their latest release and they played six songs from it.

The set was uneven. They played five songs from the critically acclaimed album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. However, the band only played two songs off their first album AM. They played three songs off of Summerteeth and two songs off of the GRAMMY Award-winning A Ghost is Born and two off of Sky Blue Sky, and also played two songs off of Mermaid Avenue, a project the band did with Billy Bragg that featured unheard lyrics from Woody Guthrie.

Wilco played nothing from their self-titled album released in 2009. Also absent from the set list were songs from 1996. Wilco switches the set list for every show and Jeff Tweedy did promise a completely different set tomorrow. The songs selected were excellently performed by Wilco. The band explored different genres of musical influence from modern psychedelic, to folk, to rock and lots in between without missing a beat.

Front man, singer, guitarist Jeff Tweedy and bassist John Stirrart are the only original members of Wilco. The rest of the band includes guitarist Nels Cline, drummer Glenn Kotche, keyboardist Mikael Jorgensen, and multi-instrumentalist Pat Sansone. Nels Cline shined throughout the evening on guitar. Glenn Kotche and John Stirrart held the rhythm together. However, Kotch made his presence felt on “Via Chicago.” Stirrart also added backing vocals throughout the night.

Wilco. Photo courtesy of Wolf Trap.

Wilco finished the night strong. Following their latest albums title track they went way back to perform “Box Full of Letters” from their first album. Then they played a couple of songs off Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, my favorite Wilco song “Heavy Metal Drummer,” and “I’m The Man Who Loves You.” They finished their set with “A Shot in the Arm.” Wilco returned for a three song encore. This is where they pulled out the Woody Guthrie lyric songs. “California Stars” was a beautiful song which really painted a picture. They closed with “Hoodoo Voodoo” which was more of a rhythmic rocker.The band had fun with this number as one of their tech’s named Josh added more cowbells!

Running time: Approximately three hours with a 30 minute intermission between acts.

Wilco with the Lee Ranaldo Band plays tonight at Wolf Trap at The Filene Center – 1551 Trap Road, in Vienna, VA. Tickets can be ordered online or by calling 877-965-3872.


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