On Friday Sept. 17, Chicago-based alt-rock group Wilco and British singer/songwriter Nick Lowe provided Massey Hall in Toronto with an unforgettable three hours of energetic indie rock and audience sing-alongs.
As Massey Hall slowly filled, the buzz of anticipation was everywhere. Audience members chatted away casually in the warmly lit venue until the lights dimmed. A roar of applause welcomed Nick Lowe as he humbly stepped out to center stage to play a solo acoustic set lasting about an hour.
Despite having a minor cold (for which he politely apologized), Lowe's soft voice still had all the necessary presence and emotion to hold the audience in the palm of his hand. His set featured groovy acoustic songs like "Cruel to Be Kind" and the lighthearted and comical "All Men Are Liars" that had the audience clapping, singing and laughing along.
While Lowe charmed the audience with his energetic repertoire, he showed that he was equally skilled at captivating hearts with sensitive ballads like "I Read a Lot" and a beautiful cover of Elvis Costello's "Alison." He wasted no time between numbers, and after he finished his set, he exited with a bow that was equally as humble and quick as his entrance.
Less than 15 minutes after Lowe finished, Wilco was on stage, ready to present their work. The set began with some of the group's new material, including the single "I Might." Wilco followed their new material with the hit "Impossible Germany" in which guitarist Nels Cline played an extensive and virtuosic guitar solo.
Flashing psychedelic lights under giant cloth icicles hung around the stage and complemented the masterful musical performance. They showed most notably as the band played one of its new songs, which featured odd time signatures and spacy guitars over a heavy, rocking bass and rhythm guitar line.
Today we see so many bands that require painstaking and extensive post-production tweaking to get a solid sound. Wilco, however, nailed favorites like "Company in my Back," "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart" and "Pot Kettle Black" with amazing accuracy and expert musicianship.
While the show did feature a significant amount of old fan favorites, it seemed equally balanced with new material off the band's upcoming release The Whole Love, which hits stores on Sept. 27. The promising new material elicited the same energetic response and participation from the audience as the older material, so much so that lead singer Jeff Tweedy thanked the audience for "listening to the new stuff and learning the words already… It's awesome."
After crowd roars, standing ovations and two encores, Wilco concluded their show, leaving hundreds of fans with smiles on their faces that simply said, "wow."