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Concert review: Wilco at Wolf Trap last night

Baltimore Sun social networking guru Mary Hartney was at last night's Wilco show at Wolf Trap in Virginia. Here are her thoughts:

My favorite band (Wilco) at my favorite venue (Wolf Trap) on a gorgeous summer night: What could possibly go wrong?

Traffic and lawn seats, that's what.

We arrived at Wolf Trap about an hour before the show, which Conor Oberst opened, and the lawn was blanket-to-blanket packed. We wound up sitting on the farthest, highest hill, with no view of the stage.

But that's my problem, not yours, right? I can at least tell you how Wilco sounded. In a word: Incredible. ...

Wolf Trap's acoustics and sound system are unparalleled. The band was tight, polished and energetic just a week after the release of their eighth (depending on which ones you count) album, Wilco (The Album), and they appropriately opened the show with "Wilco (The Song)."

I also saw "Wilco (the shirt)" and "Wilco (the tote)," and one audience member with a shirt that read "Wilco (the fan)." It's so roll-your-eyes cute. I love it.

The band played several songs before we heard a word from Jeff Tweedy, the singer, who typically banters a good bit with the crowd. "I can smell you having a good time," he said between songs. "Good times smell weird."

The set list was a mix of new songs -- I counted five off the new album -- and older material. One highlight for me was "How to Fight Loneliness," which Jeff said is the most-requested song via the band's Web site, with 36 votes. I don't think I've heard it live before, and it's a lovely song.

The "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" songs seemed to be crowd favorites, including "I'm the Man who Loves You," which began with a long feedback intro. Maybe everyone else also re-watched the concert/documentary DVD "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart" earlier this week; either way, that album holds up better than any other.

I've always loved Wilco albums more after I've seen them performed live, when something clicks.  This was particularly true with the spaced-out "A Ghost Is Born," and I realized it again last night during a meandering "Spiders/Kidsmoke." The new album is no exception. Last night's performance of "One Wing" proved that audiences will pay attention to quiet songs, and "You Never Know" was strangely uplifting.

Wilco ended the set with "Heavy Metal Drummer," then came back out for a three-song encore that began with "Misunderstood." There's really nothing like listening to Jeff Tweedy exhaust himself by screaming "nothing! nothing! nothing!" as part of the line, "I'd like to thank you all for nothing at all."

You don't even need a stage view to follow along.

Set list:
Wilco (the Song)
Shot in the Arm
At Least That's What You Said
Bull Black Nova
You Are My Face
I Am Trying to Break Your Heart
One Wing
How to Fight Loneliness
Impossible Germany
Deeper Down
Jesus, etc.
Sonny Feeling
Handshake Drugs
Hate it Here
I'm the Man who Loves You
You Don't Know
Heavy Metal Drummer

I'm a Wheel

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