WORDS AND IMAGES BILLY SEAGRAVE
On the evening of September 5th, 2023, music enthusiasts gathered at the iconic Bridgewater Hall in Manchester for a highly anticipated performance by the alternative rock legends, Wilco, supported by the talented singer-songwriter, Courtney Marie Andrews. The atmosphere was charged with anticipation as concertgoers eagerly awaited a night of musical magic.
Kicking off the evening’s festivities was the Grammy-nominated Courtney Marie Andrews, a 32-year-old artist hailing from Phoenix, Arizona. Her musical journey began at the young age of 18, where she cut her teeth in punk bands before becoming a touring member of “Jimmy Eat World.” Tonight’s performance marked a unique opportunity to bask in Andrews’ enchanting vocals, heartfelt lyrics, and musical versatility.
Courtney’s setlist encompassed a blend of her older and newer compositions, fearlessly exploring the boundaries of her musical artistry. Themes of aging, loneliness, and love reverberated through her melodies, particularly showcased in tracks like “Old Flowers” and the soul-stirring “If I Told.” Each note seemed to captivate the audience, holding them in rapt attention and deep appreciation for her craft.
2/ It Must Be Someone Else’s Fault
3/ Change My Mind
5/ Old Flowers
6/ If I Told
After the crowd had swayed to Courtney’s tunes, the stage was set for Wilco, the Chicago alt-country group known for their blues-infused alternative rock. Led by the unmistakable voice of Jeff Tweedy, Wilco’s music transcends genres, weaving a ghostly and ephemeral tapestry that remains irresistibly catchy.
The night began with the haunting melodies of “Hell is Chrome” and “Handshake Drugs,” setting a laid-back and lowkey atmosphere. As the setlist progressed, the audience was treated to a heavy dose of alternative rock and experimental Americana. Songs like “Bird Without a Tail” and “Base of My Skull” showcased the band’s remarkable musical chemistry, transforming folk-rock into a stunning display of sonic artistry.
Wilco’s performance thrived on audience participation, with Jeff Tweedy, Nels Cline, and Patrick Sansone engaging in spontaneous improvisation, creating mesmerizing sonic textures. “Evicted,” a new song from their forthcoming album ‘Cousin’, delighted with its catchy melody and driving rhythm. The initial set culminated with classics like “Heavy Metal Drummer” and “A Shot in the Arm,” sending the crowd into a standing ovation.
Without delay, Wilco returned for an encore that began with the emotionally charged “Falling Apart (Right Now).” To the audience’s delight, they were joined on stage by Courtney Marie Andrews for a heartfelt rendition of the Billy Bragg cover, “California Stars.” As Courtney exited the stage, the band dived into the eclectic masterpiece, “Spiders (Kidsmoke),” a 10-minute journey that effortlessly blended krautrock, power-pop, and brilliant musicianship. Glen Kotche’s drumming added a metronomic allure to the song.
In the end, Wilco proved to be an all-encompassing, indulgent, and thoroughly enjoyable musical force. Their performance at The Bridgewater Hall left an indelible mark on the audience, reminding everyone why they are considered one of the greatest acts in alternative rock.
1/ Hell Is Chrome
2/ Handshake Drugs
3/ I Am My Mother
4/ Cruel Country
5/ I Am Trying to Break Your Heart
7/ I’ll Fight
8/ Muzzle of Bees
10/ Bird Without a Tail / Base of My Skull
11/ Random Name Generator
12/ Sunken Treasure
14/ Impossible Germany
15/ Jesus, Etc.
16/ Box Full of Letters
17/ The Late Greats
18/ Heavy Metal Drummer
19/ A Shot in the Arm
20/ Falling Apart (Right Now)
21/ You and I (with Courtney Marie Andrews)
22/ California Stars (with Courtney Marie Andrews)
23/ Spiders (Kidsmoke)
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