Sunday, June 30, 2013

Americanarama Tour in Atlanta: A Review


Okay, first I want to preface this by saying, I have been waiting since Spring for this show.  Correction, I have been waiting for about 8 years to see Wilco and all my life to see Bob Dylan.  So if I offend with this review, dear readers should first know how much it kills me to have to criticize.  But here we go with the truth as I saw it on June 29th in Atlanta......
 
 I'm not a Dead Head.  Never have been.  When I read that Bob Weir was on the tour my husband had to tell me who he was.  And I thought his solo part of the show was cool as I could see that many were enjoying it.  I'm all for the hippies jamming out and doing their crazy little dances.  Go for it, fans, and go for it, Bob Weir.  More power to all of you.  And I also thought it was cool that the subsequent bands were inviting Bob out to jam with them.  (Bob Weir, not Dylan, and there is a huge distinction here that I will get into shortly.)  I think that is really being respectful on their parts and also a great opportunity to jam with a legend that they probably look up to.  Who wouldn't want to do that?
 

 The best band of the night.  No kidding.  I discovered My Morning Jacket a few years ago on satellite radio and instantly loved them.  To me their sound is what would happen if Modest Mouse mated with Pink Floyd and had some classic rock mongrels.  It's awesome and weird and at the same time completely accessible.  There's something about Jim James......and it's not just the hair and beard (sorry, honey).  So they didn't play "Do You Wanna Freak Out?" (my fave) but they did do several from Circuital, so I'm gonna let that one slide.  And these guys looked like they were having a blast and rocking their asses off with their best friends, unlike......


Wilco, Wilco, Wilco.  I'm just not sure what to say.  You know I love you.  Just look at all the tags you have on this blog.  But last night......I just don't know.  Yeah, you played well.  Nels was on fire with his playing.  Jeff's voice sounded great.  The whole band sounded great, but something was just missing.  You played like it was a job.....like you were all coworkers and you didn't even like each other.  You didn't dig on each other.  You didn't even smile much.  Only Pat looked like he was having fun with his rock star moves.  At the end of one song, Nels was pulling out his cord to get his next guitar while Jeff was still pulling out the feedback.  And don't even get me started on the 20 minute love fest with Bob Weir.  I think collaborations are cool, but it was just. too. long.  I wish they had spent more of that time playing Wilco hits.  THEY are who I came to see. Not Bob Weir.  I've asked myself if maybe I just put too much idealism into seeing Wilco for the first time and was destined to be let down.  I don't know.  I think I would only want to see them again under two circumstances: a smaller venue and as headliners.  I wanted their songs.  Not someone else's.  And FYI, just take a look at Wilco's Facebook page and you will see I was not alone in these feelings.  Oh, and just ask the Wilco nerds sitting in front of me at the show.  They had a real bone to pick when Wilco ended without an encore and even called out "bullshit".  Us Wilco fans have strong feelings, what can I say?
And then there was Bob Dylan.   Who I love.  Who is a living legend.  And who I watched for about 2 and a half songs.  Why?  Because I have checked his website all summer and learned he plays the same setlist.  Every night.  And while those are great songs, they aren't the ones I wanted.  I knew he wasn't going to play "Girl from the North Country", "Lay, Lady, Lay", "Subterranean Homesick Blues" or "It's Alright, Ma".  I also knew he wasn't going to bring up any of the other bands to collaborate with him.  Because he never does.  (And I am also not the only one to notice this.  Just consult Facebook again.)  And after feeling a bit let-down by Wilco, I figured I had better cut my losses and fight the Saturday night Atlanta traffic early. 

And btw, all of the above photos (with the exception of Wilco) were not from the Atlanta show and were not taken by me.  Why?  The oh so strict policy of not photo or video taking.  Is it a policy of all bands or just Wilco and Bob?  A woman even came out on the stage before Dylan came out and asked for people to not watch the show "behind screens".  Cool.  I get it.  And I agree. But legislating that?  Having guys in staff shirts walk around all evening and tell people to put their cameras down?  Sheesh.  "Keep a clean nose, watch the plain clothes" for sho, Mr. Dylan. 

(And I have no idea who took the against-the-rules Wilco pic, but I stole it from their FB page.  So it looks like SOMEBODY was allowed to take pictures.  Suck on that, Aaron's Amphitheater camera buttholes!)
 
Maybe I'm just getting too old.  Or maybe I'm still just young enough to have too much idealism.  Maybe to all those guys, they played a perfect show last night.  And maybe other fans thought so too.  I just felt really let down.  Maybe I just need to listen to these bands on my I-Pod and have my own magical relationship with them that can't be spoiled by hippies or amphitheater staff members. 

So that was my Saturday night with Bob.  And Bob.  And Wilco and My Morning Jacket in Atlanta.  But I think I would have rather stayed in North Carolina with the husband and just played them on vinyl.  But I do still love them all and thank them for what they have given music and given me.  It's a gift.  A true gift.  And that is always worth something even if you have an occasional "off" night.

3 comments:

  1. So I stumbled upon your blog in my search for setlists as I am in the pit for the Indi show on Friday. I love spending time in ATL, especially EAV, and I just saw Jim James there in May. It's cool that you wrote about these amazing artists...I hope you don't mind me spouting my thoughts. First, MMJ always is going to be the best band. They never disappoint in all of the times I've seen them. I'm glad you got to see them live. I never miss them when they are in the midwest and I have driven all around the country to see them. I was hoping their set for this tour would be longer, but it doesn't appear to be the case. Doesn't matter...i'd pay the full price to spend an hour with them (even though they typically do 2-3 hours). As far as Wilco goes...they are tight live. It's too bad that this was your first Wilco show (and MMJ) as I think you'd get a better picture of who they are live if you saw them playing their own gig. I'm interested in catching their vibe on Friday from the pit. I can't believe that you left for Dylan! Who does that? He rarely plays his popular stuff and when he does, he never plays the original arrangement. You have to expect that, bit if you appreciate what he has done for music and like him even a little bit, how do you leave during his set? Weird :) Solely based on your blog entry, I think it was your rigid expectations of the night that caused it to be "off". It is your blog and your opinion, and therefore I am not trying to spit on it. It's just too bad that you couldn't allow yourself to just take in the majesty of such an event and appreciate what each did right in front of your eyes! You may never get to see Dylan again and you bailed on him. Wow. The exciting thing is that it sound like you may hit a MMJ or Wilco show in the future based upon both your enjoyment and your disappointment. THAT would be a GREAT idea! Both bands are some of the best times I've had at a live gig ever. P.S. if you don't know much of MMJ besides the newer stuff, dig in! They don't have a bad album. Peace...

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  2. Neal,

    I appreciate your comment and the respectful way you left it....even if we don't agree. I knew if anyone read this entry there would be a backlash. To be fair, I'm sure Dylan played a great show. I left early because honestly, I went to see Wilco. After their set, I was pretty much done. If you read any of more earlier entries, you will know that I do respect and appreciate Dylan as well as the other artists.

    Artists have the right to play the show any way they'd like.....they can change the arrangements, change the songs, noodle it up.....whatever. I paid for the ticket, but they are the performers. I appreciate what they provide. But I have the right to my own feelings about it as well and I was disappointed.

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  3. I have no interest in making this a pissing match and getting trolled by angry fans. The comments from this point on will be closed. This is a personal blog where I write about my tastes in books, music, movies and my personal life. I'm not a music aficionado or a critic. Thank you for reading, but if you want to debate further, please do it elsewhere.

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But what the hell do I know? What do YOU think????