Jeff Tweedy - vocals, guitars; John Stirratt - bass; Ken Coomer - percussion; Jay Bennett - guitar, piano, backing vocals; Leroy Bach - guitar, keyboards
Captured only two months after their breakthrough 1999 LP Summerteeth was released, this live Wilco concert catches the alt-country heroes at a wonderful time in their career. This exhaustive, 24-song set will especially delight fans of Summerteeth and their 1996 album Being There, as the group draws generously from both discs.
Performing in the picturesque Angel's Camp nestled away in Northern California's Gold Country, a laidback Jeff Tweedy leads the band through an energetic, upbeat show. On the two-and-a-half minute opening number, "Forget The Flowers," the group shows off their country-rock roots before slowing it down with a powerful version of the Rabbit Brown-penned, American folk classic "James Alley Blues."
Never ones to shy away from a cover song, the group takes on tunes from a diverse array of musicians, such as Santana, the Grateful Dead, and Woody Guthrie. The group also performs "New Madrid," a cut from Tweedy's earlier group, Uncle Tupelo, which is a real treat. The show also serves as another testament to late multi-instrumentalist Jay Bennett. Ten years, almost to the date (Bennett passed on May 25, 2009), before the Illinois-native passed away, he sounds great, adding guitar, keyboards, and backing vocals to the Wilco's sound. Sadly, Bennett's run with the group would only last or two more years, but this performance shows the special contribution he made to the group during his seven-year run.
Wilco was formed in 1994 after the break-up of frontman Jeff Tweedy's highly influential alt-country band Uncle Tupelo. After the split, Tweedy was able to retain the services of all the group's members, except vocalist Jay Farrar, who went on to for the excellent Son Volt. The group released their first album, A.M. in 1995, and, though while it wasn't a huge seller, it opened the door for the group to release their stellar 1996 follow-up, Being There.
From there, Wilco cemented their status as one of the great American bands of the era, scoring big with 1999's Summerteeth and 2002's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot—which was viewed by many publications as one of the best albums of the decade. Though their next three albums sold well and were mostly well-received, they could never quite match the splendor of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.
The band has also faced myriad line-up changes during their 15-plus year career, with only Tweedy and bassist John Stirratt lasting the group's duration. The group also crafted two albums with English folk singer-songwriter Billy Bragg. Though Wilco has evolved considerably since their inception, they continue to write, record, tour, and remain an extremely popular act.