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Wilco Concert Review

Live performances are an important measure of a band's caliber. And if, in a live performance, a band can take a song that's stellar on its album and make it even better, well, that's a badge not just anyone can earn.

Live performances are an important measure of a band's caliber. And if, in a live performance, a band can take a song that's stellar on its album and make it even better, well, that's a badge not just anyone can earn.

That's what happened at Tuesday night's Wilco concert in Bayfront Festival Park.

The six-member Chicago rock band made its album rendition of "ImpossibleGermany" seem a little too sedate with a zealous,energized performance.

The same could be said for much of the band's melodic, energy-infused set, which lasted more than an hour and a half.

Selections that seem quiet and reflective on its new CD "Sky Blue Sky" were charged with a current of unexpected vitality, and Wilco played some past hits, such as "Jesus, Etc." and "I'm Always in Love" in a way that made it apparent the band members haven't gotten tired of performing them.

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Such effervescence was even more remarkable in light of the grim playing conditions; the cold and damp weather had fans mittened and mummified in blankets and made lighting equipment above the stage sway, but didn't seem to slow the band any.

"That's like Navy SEALS training," lead singer Jeff Tweedy said after the band performed "Impossible Germany."

"It's like, 'You can play that solo, but can you play that solo with the wind and rain in your face?' "

Tweedy showed his hammy side Tuesday, making light of guitarist Nels Cline's bout with chicken pox, which required the band to reschedule its Aug. 14 concert.

"I learned this from watching Justin Timberlake last night," Tweedy said. " 'Did you come here to party, Duluth? I know you did.' We're bringing sexy back."

Pause.

"We're bringing chicken pox back."

The concert's only flaw was that Wilco seemed a little too even-keeled to embrace its anthems. When it came time to perform "Shot in the Arm," a song that needed Tweedy to really lay into the vocals, the band seemed a little hesitant to rock out.

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Warm-up act Low offered a stark contrast to Wilco with its set of slow, almost lament-like songs. Taken separately, the songs might have invited some introspection, but cumulatively they formed a sort of drone.

Wilco band members should have donated Low some of their energy -- it seemed they had a lot to spare.

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