Wilco/Lee Ranaldo Band: Ommegang Brewery, Cooperstown, NY 7/28/12

There may not be a more family friendly act in rock and roll today then Wilco and while a brewery isn’t perfect for an all ages show, the idyllic upstate New York Setting brought out the kids and parents alike for this weekend summer show. 

The Lee Ranaldo Band opened the night’s proceedings as they tour on the back of Ranaldo’s excellent new album Between The Times and The Tides. Walking onto the stage Lee asked if everyone had a beer before starting with two of the best tracks off the album, “Off The Wall” and “Angles”.  “Angles” had a scratchy guitar solo and lyrics that mentioned summer rain’s which had been present all day but stayed away for the opening set. 

Touring with Wilco allows Ranaldo to call upon Nel’s Cline who played on the studio album and looked more then happy to help out for the majority of the set.  Patrick Sansone also contributed on keyboards for a few songs, adding an extra layer to the glittering sound.  Highlights were the vibrant riffs Ranaldo and Cline traded off during “Tomorrow Never Comes”, the feedback and loops in “Hammer Blows”, and in Ranaldo’s words the “schizophrenic” set closing three guitar attack of “Fire Island”.

During the brief break before the headliners took the stage the skies opened and drenched the outdoor crowd.  After playing a few upbeat well received down state shows earlier in the week, tonight’s Wilco performance was noticeably mellower but still showcased the bands huge catalog.  “Dawned on Me” opened up the almost 30 song deep set and “Sunken Treasure” from Being There proved to be an early highlight.  When the band got to the Sky Blue Sky gem “Impossible Germany” the rains had tapered off to a bearable drizzle.     

Having bumped into the band at the Baseball Hall of Fame earlier in the day it was interesting to hear Jeff Tweedy mention swinging bats and checking out cool stuff there before diving into “Handshake Drugs”.  The weather may have contributed but one of the major distractions on this night was prevalent sound issues, most notably with the compressed snare drum.  Moving around the spacious grounds found pockets of better and worse acoustics on the low end while the vocals and guitars were consistently clean.   

Now that the band is comfortable digging deep into their back catalog it is interesting to see which songs get the biggest reactions at a given show.  Tonight found huge ovations for three in a row with “Box Full of Letters”, “I’m Always In Love” and “Heavy Metal Drummer”.  The last had Tweedy commenting on what a great place this was to play and joking that he wished he could drink. 

Other popular offerings were the first song of the second encore, “Airline To Heaven” which found the group in full on country mode as Nels twanged up his playing via a lap steel guitar before the rocking “Red Eyed & Blue > I Got You” pairing.  The energetic combo had parents hoisting the young ones onto their shoulders and the kid’s fist pumping with the beat before the show closing “Outtasite” ended the festivities.

Dawned On Me
War On War
I Might
Sunken Treasure
Either Way
Impossible Germany
Born Alone
Laminated Cat
What’s The World Got In Store
Handshake Drugs
Whole Love
Box Full Of Letters
I’m Always In Love
Heavy Metal Drummer
I’m the Man Who Loves You
A Shot in the Arm

Poor Places
Art Of Almost
Standing O

Airline To Heaven
Hate It Here
Can’t Stand It
Red-Eyed and Blue
I Got You (At The End Of The Century)
Outtasite (Outta Mind)

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