To the Roundhouse last Saturday, for the Wilco and Jonathan Wilson show, which I suspect one or two of you may also have seen.

To the Roundhouse last Saturday, for the Wilco and Jonathan Wilson show, which I suspect one or two of you may also have seen.



More and more often these days, I turn to “Kicking Television” before any other Wilco album, and am beginning to suspect it might actually be their defining work. Watching on Saturday night, it’s clear that stability hasn’t brought any complacency to the lineup, and that now would be a sensible time to put out another live album. For all their imaginative use of the studio (not least on “The Whole Love”), it occurs that like one of their clear antecedents, The Grateful Dead, Wilco are at their most potent onstage.

Saturday’s show was a brilliant operation in drawing affinities between different phases of the band. So an opening “One Sunday Morning” flowed artfully into “Poor Places”, then into a take on “Art Of Almost” that, with Glenn Kotche playing breaks, was the closest Wilco have ever come to sonically justifying that old ‘American Radiohead’ tag.

A bit of a frontloaded set, I think: it’s hard to top a 5-6-7 of “At Least That’s What You Said”, “Bull Black Nova” and “Via Chicago”; and some of the makeweight powerpop songs from the new album blurred into one another in the second half (culminating in Nick Lowe guesting on “Cruel To Be Kind”). Even then, though, there was always something interesting at the edges: Nels Cline, of course, providing imaginative friction; Pat Sansone’s intuitive piano lines; the relentless energy of the whole band, and the sheer creative joy that they seem to generate.

Wilson was good, too, though he probably should loosen up live a bit more; a jam on “Natural Rhapsody” was the definite highlight. Anyone else want to share opinions?

In the meantime, the 2012 albums have started rolling in, and there’s some very good stuff in this week’s playlist, not least the extraordinary Blues Control/Laraaji collaboration.

1 Blues Control & Laraaji – FRKWYS Vol 8: Blues Control & Laraaji (RVNG)

2 Doug Jerebine – Jesse Harper (Drag City)

3 Elephant Micah – Louder Than Thou (Unknown)

4 High Wolf – Atlas Nation (Holy Mountain)

5 Black Bananas – Rad Times Xpress IV (Drag City)

6 Guided By Voices – Let’s Go Eat The Factory (Fire)

7 Calexico – Selections From Road Atlas: 1998-2011 (City Slang)

8 Tom Waits – Bad As Me (Anti-)

9 Chairlift – Something (Young Turks)

10 Etta James – The Dreamer (Decca)

11 Field Music – Plumb (Memphis Industries)

12 Black Truth Rhythm Band – Ifetayo (Soundway)

13 Prinzhorn Dance School – Clay Class (DFA)

14 Barry Dransfield – Barry Dransfield (Spinney)

15 Hiss Golden Messenger – Poor Moon (Paradise Of Bachelors)