SAN FRANCISCO — Wilco is one of those rare bands that heard live sound great start-to-finish, loud or quiet, indoors or out and in a small or big venue.
At the Warfield Theater Sunday, Jan. 29 on its “The Whole Love” tour in support of the latest release by the same name, the Chicago-based alternative rock band played its first San Francisco show since 2008 and blanketed the area with a previous San Jose stop, Oakland on Tuesday and Davis on Wednesday.
Frontman Jeff Tweedy sang “he was tamed by rock-and-roll” in the show-opening “Sunken Treasure” and then dished out over two hours worth to the sold-out Warfield by way of a 20-song set followed by a five-song encore.
Tweedy carried the vocals in addition to key guitar work.
On stage with him was bassist John Stirrant who, along with Tweedy are the only two original members dating back to Wilco’s inception in 1994; lead guitarist Nels Cline with his stinging solos; keyboardists Mikael Jorgensen and Patrick Sansone; and drummer Glen Kotche. Each member’s input was key and distinct to the Wilco sound.
The new material, six songs in all that included: “Art of Almost,” “I Might,” “Born Alone,” “Standing O,” Dawned on Me,” “Whole Love” and “One Sunday Morning,” the last a 10-minute rolling beat that could be staple of future Wilco tours, came across well.
The band touched back to its critically acclaimed, double Emmy-winning “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” for three selections: “Ashes of American Flag,” “Heavy Metal Drummer” and “I’m the Man Who Loves You,” the last two as part of the encore.
Tweedy kept the chit-chat to a minimum to focus on the music though he recalled earlier years playing over at Slim’s and The Great American Music Hall. He said he had “high expectations of San Francisco” but the feeling was mutual and Wilco delivered.
The show’s high point was a lovely rendition of the seldom-played “Either Way” from 2006s “Sky Blue Sky.”
Another gem from that same record was the crowd favorite and Klein-heavy “Impossible Germany” with the crescendo of guitars toward the end.
The upbeat tempo on “Handshake Drugs” left a good vibe as Wilco closed the set with “Misunderstood,” “I Must be High,” “The Late Greats” and “Dawned on Me” before launching into the title track of “The Whole Love” to kick off its lengthy encore.
“The Lovely 1″ closed the show as the Warfield crowd emptied out onto Market Street.
Note: Wilco is a band worth checking out if you’re interested in finding new music. Live or studio releases, either way you won’t be disappointed.