Cedar Fever

Wilco (at a hockey arena)

Jeff Tweedy
Jeff Tweedy (by Gary Miller)

It was 35 minutes into last night’s set at the new Cedar Park Center before Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy addressed the audience: “This is a new experience for us, a hockey area in Austin, Texas."

The venue didn’t hinder the sextet as they hummed and roared through more than two hours of music, a great deal of it taken from their superb new disc, Wilco (the Album). Some of the nuance of the album was lost to the cavernous hall, but of late Wilco in concert has been more about power than subtlety. It was especially thrilling to watch Nels Cline twist his guitar into knots on tunes like “One Wing” and “Bull Black Nova.”

There's a late period Beatles tone to much of the new material, which was muffled some, especially radio hit “You Never Know.” Other Brit-pop influences arose on the Kinks-like “Deeper Down.” Towards the end, Tweedy stepped aside and let the audience sing “Jesus, etc.,” much to the nearly sold out crowd’s delight. Two lengthy encores focused on older songs like the tightly strummed “California Stars,” from the Woody Guthrie collection they had a hand in with Billy Bragg, and a motoring “Outtasite (Outta Mind).”

Tweedy joked about "arena rock" all evening, then “Hoodoo Voodoo” ended the show with a three guitar rave, a move that pointed directly to that kind of hokum, leaving the cheering horde with a healthy, satisfied buzz.

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Wilco, Jeff Tweedy, Nels Cline

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