Music Review
The Boston Globe
A Wilco crescendo at Tanglewood
wilco Jeff Tweedy and Wilco at the Koussevitzky Music Shed at Tanglewood. (Globe Photo/Erik Jacobs)
By Joan Anderman
Globe Staff / August 14, 2008

LENOX – If it had been any other band, the opening stretch of Wilco’s much-anticipated show at Tanglewood on Tuesday would have seemed insanely temperate. Who greets a pumped, rabid crowd with a laid-back soft-rocker (“Either Way”), a gentle pop tune (“Hummingbird”), and a winsome country-folk song (“Remember the Mountain Bed”)?

Wilco does – precisely because the band has built a relationship of uncommon trust with its audience. Intensity and noise would materialize, in a pitch-perfect tangle of earthy comforts and perilous adventure, during a stellar set from the planet’s most radical roots band.

Tanglewood rarely presents nonclassical music, and the special circumstances weren’t lost on Wilco. “We were up all night sewing,” cracked sly frontman Jeff Tweedy of the group’s sparkling, Nudie-style suits. “Do you guys shout requests at the BSO? ‘Mahler!’ ” he shrieked, and then gave the people what they wanted: “Jesus, etc.”

Marveling at the venue’s deep history, Tweedy noted that the graffiti in the men’s room – “Music Iz Gay” – must predate the modern usage of that adjective. “This song is really gay!” went the introduction to “What Light,” and so it was: an ebullient waltz sandwiched between a rough rock song (“A Shot in the Arm”) and Woody Guthrie (“California Stars”).