buttonWilco @ Zepp Tokyo (23rd Apr. '10)

Being There

      A hot and packed full house awaited Wilco at Zepp Tokyo as the much-lauded Chicago band made a long overdue return to Japan on Friday night. A very short two-date tour saw Jeff Tweedy and company play Osaka and Tokyo in as many nights. But they could have played all night for a week, as far this audience was concerned.

Wilco      Wilco (The Band) opened with "Wilco (The Song)" from last year’s Wilco (The Album) much to the delight of Wilco (The Fans). What followed was two full hours of alternative-indie-country-rock from one of America’s most talented bands. The two hour set barely scratched the surface of their consistently varied catalogue, and featured selections from albums back to 1999’s Summerteeth. Though they neglected material from their first two albums, A.M. (1995) and the popular Being There (1996), the top notch show greeted eagerly and enthusiastically by the faithfully gathered (this writer included).

      Jeff Tweedy is not a "front man," he never has been. Which isn’t to say he isn’t entertaining, but anyone who has seen Wilco live before knows that he is not much for stage banter. He can, in fact, be downright grumpy (I once saw him try to kick a rather drunk and obnoxious audience member in the head when the guy wouldn’t stop interrupting a show by yelling out for Uncle Tupelo and Wilco songs at the front of the stage during Tweedy’s solo acoustic tour).

Wilco      When some sound problems occurred just after "Radio Cure" causing Mikael Jorgensen’s keyboard to fall momentarily silent, one overzealous American fan took the opportunity to yell above all others: "Say something!"

      "Shut up!" said Tweedy in response.

      It was to be a recurring, if lighthearted, refrain through out the set when as band leader tried to tell Americans to be quiet, "We’re not here for you."

Wilco      In between the rare spoken words was an understated and intense showcase of poetic, heart-on-sleeve songwriting ("You Are My Face", "Muzzle of Bees", "Impossible Germany", "Reservations") that held the crowd rapt and silent, to crescendo building, all out rockers ("Bull Black Nova", "Spiders", "I’m the Man Who Loves You").

      Regardless of what song they were playing, the crowd was constantly singing to themselves. I was slightly amazed that the Japanese crowd was one, so big, and two, so knowledgeable of the songs. This wasn’t some three-chord elbow rock band "playing Kiss covers, beautiful and stoned". One girl in front of me sang all of "You Are My Face" - softly and beautifully, I might add - without stumbling over a single word. I have never seen a band get the whole audience to sing a whole song, but freakishly that’s what happened when they played "Jesus, Etc." from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. The audience sang it all while the band backed them up and Tweedy held the microphone out over the stage. Every. Single. Word.

Wilco      Nels Cline on lead guitar was in almost autistic savant form as he went from slide country riffs, to hard rock, to jangly pop, to wall of noise effect driven sounds, to acoustic guitar and back again, cycling through nearly a dozen different guitars sitting beside him down stage right. In fact, at times it seemed like Tweedy was an island of Xanax in a sea of amphetamines when the band veered off on some heavy noise and percussion trips in the middle of songs (most notably the heavy hitting drum triggered F/X breaks and lengthy fills of Glenn Kotche in the usually soft and eerie "I Am Trying To Break Your Heart").

Wilco      This wasn’t a note taking show. By the time the band finished "Handshake Drugs" and launched into the wonderful version of "Impossible Germany" (with the lyrical refrain of "Impossible Germany, unlikely Japan…") I stopped trying. From then on it was all I could do to take my eyes of the stage and tap out song titles into my phone. I felt stoned. I’d waited seven years to see them here in Japan and I was only disappointed they didn't play longer and play more songs.

      They came out and played "The Late Greats" and an extremely raucous and energetic version of "I’m A Wheel" before bidding the audience good night, asking them not to wait so long next time and to bring them back again soon.

      From the reaction of the fans leaving, every one of them talking about the other songs they would have gladly stayed and listened to them play until the wee hours, we can only hope that Smash will take them up on the request. Would Fuji Rock Festival be too much to ask?

reported by jeff and photos by hanasan
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button mag files : Wilco

button Being There : (10/04/23 @ Zepp Tokyo) : review by jeff, photos by hanasan
buttonphoto report : (10/04/23 @ Zepp Tokyo) : photos by hanasan
buttonphoto report : (10/04/22 @ Osaka Big Cat) : photos by yegg
buttonphoto report : (09/08/23 @ The Green Man Festival, Wales, UK) : photos by izumikuma

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The latest album


"Wilco(The Album)"
(国内盤 / US import / US import12inch analog / iTunes)

The latest DVD


"Ashes of American Flags"
(US import)

previous works

"Sky Blue Sky"(US import / 国内盤 / iTunes)
"Kicking Television: Live in Chicago"(UK import / 国内盤)
"A Ghost Is Born" (US import / iTunes - Tour Edition) "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot"(US import / 国内盤 / iTunes)
"Mermaid Avenue, Vol. 2 (Billy Bragg & Wilco)"(UK import)
"Summerteeth" (US import)
"Mermaid Avenue (Billy Bragg & Wilco)"(UK import / iTunes)
"Being There"(UK import / iTunes)
"A.M."(US import)
"The Bridge School Collection, Vol. 1 (Live)"(iTunes)
and more

check the albums?

The latest album


"Wilco(The Album)"
(国内盤 / US import / US import12inch analog / iTunes)

The latest DVD


"Ashes of American Flags"
(US import)

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button Being There : Wilco (23rd Apr. @ Zepp Tokyo)


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