wilco, friday october 28th, 2011, camden roundhouse

feeling warmed by the band's slight return to that kind of shaggy, jagged awkwardness from the 'yankee hotel foxtrot' and 'ghost is born' days, brought around by the equal parts meditative, sedative and regenerative new record 'the whole love', a wilco crowd can count itself a happy crowd in the glow of potential for this couple o' london shows. they've always given big in the uk, even the most hateful spits of 'i'd like to thank you all for nothing' jetting from 'misunderstood' seemed aimed a little to the side rather than at the ever lovin' crowd on these shores and those epic, event-feel gigs at the troxy and royal festival hall, combined with overwhelming, overblown headline sets at green man and end of the road over the last few years are gonna get you expecting nothing less than fireworks - even if we hadn't hit halloween yet.
it ain't that, though, it's a different creature that joins us in this packed, niggly venue.
it's wilco the touring band playing their touring band set to their fans, just as they would anywhere else, any other night of the week. it's a different, altered and edifying experience.
tweedy is tighter lipped than ever, pausing brash, bold run-throughs of whatever crosses their mind (from 'black bull nova' to 'born alone' to 'i am trying to break your heart there's no real logic or quality control - it's a ton of wowing,weird, wonk-walking songs) only to apologise for a poor set at shepherd's bush aeons ago and mutter the (very) occasional 'thanks'.
the songs flood out of the band - tweedy and cline in particular looking like this is happening to them, not them controlling it - the much-derided 'one wing' gaining anthem status here, and huge love, while 'jesus etc' is promoted from it's usual crowd singalong status to artfully performed heartcrusher.
cline's guitar playing is like thunder - this we know - but it's a force of nature he's refining and refining, much as tweedy pares back his sentiment to deliver his best work in years, played here tonight in the form of 'one sunday morning' (maybe the best thing he's ever written) and 'the whole love' title track.
so there's no sense of big-gig here, maybe cos it's night one of a two night stand (saturday's show will hold a wildly changed set and an appearance from nick lowe) - but you get the feel of 'just' seeing wilco - one of the best bands in the world, no doubt, 'just' play a great show - 19 songs, an hour and 45 minutes of glorious business as usual.
they may not give the answer to the question you asked but they tell such a stunning story you are lost to them anyway.