Music: Live

SHEPHERD'S BUSH EMPIRE LONDON

SUMMERTEETH, THE third, instalment in Wilco's quest to distil the early 1970s moment when American rock's explosive prime was replaced by pretty pop melodies is being justifiably lauded. Their melodic gift is now matched by singer Jeff Tweedy's new facility for lyrics of disaffection. But to those who saw them the last time they played this venue, Wilco will forever be defined by a spontaneous moment of rock'n'roll warfare, the exact inverse of Iggy Pop's notorious face-off with a crowd of riled Hell's Angels; the night Tweedy became so incensed with the reserve of a Sunday night London audience that he leapt into their midst and physically shook them into moving. This is their return to the scene of that crime.

As before, it's the sharp-featured Tweedy who provides stage presence. The reticent nature of his bandmates reminds you why that previous Empire crowd, like this one, only shuffled its feet. The band have improved, become more varied. Guitars squeal and harmonies spiral in the whirl of "Hotel Arizona", a Woody Guthrie song is turned into wired, crunching country. But still, the tension we hang on is: what will Tweedy do?

He offers no clue. When we clap along to "Red-Eyed and Blue", he laughs. But, clanging his guitar angrily at the next song's end, he seems to mime going through the motions. Finally, he speaks. "Was anybody here last time?" Scattered cheers. "I'm on medication now."

The rest of the show becomes an apologia for imagined sins. He says thanks so many times it's almost parodic, claims he's hardly dared speak into a microphone since, mock-threatens "I'm starting to get mad again" at a good-humoured heckler. Rock'n'roll as warfare has deteriorated into rock'n'roll as act of contrition. Needless as it is, it seems to ease the mood of everyone present, all the better to respond to the suckerpunch which sums up Summerteeth's new strengths: "She's a Jar". A steel guitar strokes upward as Tweedy sings this apparent love song with the lightest touch of hate, and the tension of its infamous, inevitable last line ratchets up with every soaring harmony, till, perfectly, he almost trips over it, lets it tumble awkwardly out: "She begs me not to hit her." It's the hint of darkness that has lifted their perfectly constructed pop songs into life. They're only a little nearer the equally mysterious chemistry needed to make those songs blossom on stage. Perhaps, in the end, they're too modest to match the parade of ghostly hellraisers they adore. At least Tweedy no longer needs to shake us by the throat as they try.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Carell in the poster for new film 'Foxcatcher'
filmExclusive: First look at comic actor in first major serious role
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Kingston Road in Stockton is being filmed for the second series of Benefits Street
arts + entsFilming for Channel 4 has begun despite local complaints
Arts and Entertainment
Led Zeppelin

music
Arts and Entertainment
Radio presenter Scott Mills will be hitting the Strictly Come Dancing ballroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce performs in front of a Feminist sign at the MTV VMAs 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has taken home the prize for Video of the Year at the MTV Video Music Awards 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Paige and Scott Lowell in Queer as Folk (Season 5)
tvA batch of shows that 'wouldn't get past a US network' could give tofu sales an unexpected lift
Arts and Entertainment
books... but seller will be hoping for more
Arts and Entertainment
John Kearns winner of the Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Award with last years winners: Bridget Christie and Frank Skinner
comedyJohn Kearns becomes the first Free Fringe act to win the top prize
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Sue Vice
booksAcademic says we should not disregard books because they unexpectedly change genre
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Muscato performs as Michael Crawford in Stars in Their Eyes

TV
Arts and Entertainment
‘Game of Thrones’

TV
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus brought her Bangerz tour to London's O2 Arena last night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
film
Arts and Entertainment
Novelist Martin Amis at The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival

books
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'

After giving gay film R-rating despite no sex or violence

film
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Williams' life story will be told in a biography written by a New York Times reporter

film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

    Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

    A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
    Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

    The science of herding is cracked

    Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
    Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

    This tyrant doesn’t rule

    It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
    Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

    From strung out to playing strings

    Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
    The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

    A big fat surprise about nutrition?

    The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
    Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

    Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

    The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
    On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

    On the road to nowhere

    A Routemaster trip to remember
    Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

    Hotel India

    Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
    10 best pencil cases

    Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

    Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
    Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

    Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

    Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
    Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

    Pete Jenson: A Different League

    Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
    This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

    The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

    Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
    Britain’s superstar ballerina

    Britain’s superstar ballerina

    Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
    Berlin's Furrie invasion

    Berlin's Furrie invasion

    2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
    ‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

    ‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

    Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis