"This is really weird," frontman Jeff Tweedy exclaimed more than once when Wilco played the Fabulous Fox last September. In spite of all the critical acclaim his band had received in the past few years, Tweedy still couldn't believe that he, a kid from Belleville, was playing a show where, as he pointed out to those in attendance, Hail! Hail! Rock "n' Roll had been filmed. Yet to those who packed the Fox that night, the only oddity was that no cameras were in place to document such a rapturous performance. From the gentle acoustic strumming that opened "Muzzle of Bees" through the surging feedback that drowned out the final heartsick lines of "Poor Places," Wilco's main set was a master class in intelligent, challenging, soul-stirring rock. Perhaps aware how draining the past 75 minutes had been, the band dipped into its back catalogue for its encores, sending hard-core fans into ecstasy with the rollicking "Casino Queen" and the lovely "The Lonely 1." The true show-stopper, though, was a playful rendition of Woody Guthrie's "Christ for President," and a year later, this remains our most vivid memory of that late-summer night, a song that seems to capture the essence of Wilco itself: funny, angry, hopeful, beautiful and, in the end, no matter how rocking, still somehow impossibly sad.
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