In the three years since we last heard from Chicago indie rock legends Wilco, front man Jeff Tweedy has been on what seems to be a revitalization of his song writing. Releasing his first studio solo album of originals in 2018, the delightful “Warm” that was paired with a memoir Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back), followed by a solo acoustic tour, where Tweedy stopped at Cincinnati Music Hall. For those lucky enough on this past Record Store Day Tweedy released the b-sides from “Warm,” titling it simply “Warmer.”
On top of all that, Wilco quietly was working on their follow up to 2016’s “Shmilco,” with “Ode to Joy,” a beautifully optimistic album that in many ways harkens back to Wilco’s sound on 1996’s “Being There.”
With tune’s like “Everyone Hides,” and “Love Is Everywhere (Beware)” Wilco has a playfulness that we haven’t really seen from the band in past records.
Saturday night the band returned to Cincinnati playing a sold-out show at Taft Theatre, with a stacked setlist of nearly 30 songs, that would’ve satisfied any Wilco fan. Covering a bit of all the band’s catalog, Wilco gave fans an evening that won’t be forgotten.
Beginning the set with the first two songs from “Ode to Joy,” “Bright Leaves,” and “Before Us” songs that really showcase Tweedy’s songwriting more than anything. Then leading right into two “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” classics “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart,” and “Kamera.”
Wilco as a band felt fresh and rejuvenated in a way that was just undeniably fun for fans. Guitarist Nels Cline may have been one of the most enjoyable parts of the show, with his unmistakable style and sound, Cline did not disappoint.
Cline’s guitar playing is in many ways comparable to that of Johnny Marr’s of the Smiths, Cline writes these incredibly beautiful parts that are complex, disguised as simple additives to Tweedy’s writing.
Personally, my favorite song of the night came from “Random Name Generator,” off of Wilco’s incredibly inventive 2013 album, “Star Wars.”
Ending the main set with a somber “Misunderstood,” the band was garnered a roaring applause that overwhelmed Taft Theatre. When they would return to the stage, they started with “California Stars,” a favorite of many Wilco fans from their collaborative record with Billy Bragg “Mermaid Avenue.”
Followed by three more songs Wilco decided to call it a night playing their 28th song of the evening with, Outtasite (Outta Mind). It felt as though Wilco could’ve kept playing and the crowd was right there with them, waiting to see what else they would pull out of their vast catalog.
Wilco has earned a dedicated fan base that has followed them through nearly 25 years of often doing whatever they’ve wanted to do. Always repaying fans with incredible sets like the one from Saturday evening, festival’s like their Solid Sound Fest in North Adams, Massachusetts to their destination festival in Mexico this year. It felt as though Wilco now simply wants to bring joy to their audiences, and that’s exactly what they did Saturday evening.
Wilco’s album “Ode to Joy,” is out now.