Live Review: Wilco and Sharon Van Etten’s Winterlude Dazzles the Chicago Theatre (12/18)

Hometown heroes bring some much-needed warmth to the chill in the air

Wilco, Chicago Winter Interlude, December 2019, Alternative, Jeff Tweedy
Wilco, photo by Heather Kaplan

    Hometown heroes Wilco returned to The Chicago Theatre for night three of their semi-annual Winterlude residency. The 28-song set was peppered with Jeff Tweedy’s trademark bon mots on Wilco’s subjective coolness (“We’re still here, so fuck it!”), the secret to Nels Cline’s extraordinary “Impossible Germany” guitar work (“Every night after that solo, his fingers have to regenerate like a lizard.”), and shout outs to old friends (“We’d like to dedicate [‘California Stars'” to our friend Jay [Farrar?]. We’re glad he’s here.”).

    (Buy: Tickets to Wilco’s Upcoming Shows)

    The polite but very enthusiastic audience (it was a Wednesday evening show, after all) responded in kind, cheering after every extended jam, every solo, and even initiating a spirited Springsteen-inspired “Bruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuce!” chant following Tweedy’s dedication of “Everyone Hides” to his brother-in-law Bruce (“Not that Bruce.”). Sharon Van Etten, who opened the night with a short solo set, joined Wilco on vocals for “Radio Cure”, which the band had not performed live since 2017. (Van Etten’s own version can be found on the recent Wilcovered compilation album.)

    (Buy: Tickets to Sharon Van Etten’s Upcoming Shows)

    The show closed with a lush rendition of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”, with Van Etten, Sima Cunningham, and Liam Kazar on backing vocals and percussion. It was a perfect button on a set that was at times ironic, at times earnest, but wholly optimistic. And thanks to the Theatre’s warm acoustics, Wilco’s intricate musical arrangements sounded especially rich. It was a welcome respite from what’s already been an icy winter for Chicago, and a pleasant reminder that the sun soon will peek through the clouds and the ice will eventually melt.


    An ode to joy, indeed.


    Sharon Van Etten Setlist:

    Give Out
    Comeback Kid
    No One’s Easy to Love

    Wilco Setlist:

    Bright Leaves
    Before Us
    I Am Trying to Break Your Heart
    Handshake Drugs
    Side with the Seeds
    One and a Half Stars
    I Might
    White Wooden Cross
    Via Chicago
    How to Fight Loneliness
    Bull Black Nova
    Random Name Generator
    Radio Cure
    Impossible Germany
    Jesus, Etc.
    We Were Lucky
    Love Is Everywhere (Beware)
    Box Full of Letters
    Everyone Hides
    Dawned On Me
    I’m the Man Who Loves You
    Hold Me Anyway
    The Late Greats
    California Stars
    Outtasite (Outta Mind)
    Happy Xmas (War is Over) w/ Sharon Van Etten [John & Yoko/The Plastic Ono band cover]

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