On the morning of the Wilco event at the Empire, Shepherds Bush Green, the exhaust fell off our car and we were forced to rent a car to make our journey across London
Mrs. Monk negotiated the car rental and we were disappointed when the cash they demanded was 25% more than the promise on the phone. This “extra” was to cover the premium on the insurance that we would need to avoid a huge £500 excess. I said “No thanks”, to the extra charge. But the salesman did not give up, and while he checked over the car before handing us the keys, he reminded us that the car was in mint condition and we really should accept that extra charge.
“No”, I said, and Mrs. Monk looked at me with great concern, and a scowl.
We made our way to Shepherd’s Bush Green where we were confronted by some un-gentrified street parking options, not far from some mean looking ticket touts and the “hand-shake-drug” dealers that Jeff Tweedy was about to sing about.
We made our way to the third tier of the historic rock temple. And looked down upon a brand new Wilco, and tried not to think about car insurance.
Jeff Tweedy has some issues with his perception of British antipathy to Wilco. The Guardian reported some hecklers on Sunday but we sensed little antipathy on Monday, and far from it. Mrs Monk spent much of her energy whooping and guffawing at a couple of crazy dancing fans who were on something stronger than Sprite
She was also taken by the new guitarist who had a penchant for frenzied excess of his right arm, and the remainder of his body that seemed destined to tumble but for the size 20 shoes that anchored him to the ground, or otherwise flapped at foot-pedals at will.
But this is a big band with two people on four sets of keys and 20 guitars, three guitarists and a magnificent drummer.
Tweedy was on form. His voice is more demonstrative, as it needs to be with such very loud but staggeringly tight band about him.
The avant-garde leanings are now tempered but when they indulge themselves in chaotic noise, they do so as a foil to the tight syncopation of master musicians.
It was otherwise a quiet night in Shepherd’s Bush, and the hired car had all its wheels and wing mirrors intact when we rejoined it.
On the way home Mrs Monk decided that Wilco is a touch formulaic and a little light on that crazy magic that makes live music unique. I had to agree, but I know the musos on Radio 3, Mixing It, for example, admire the skill and compositional quality of Wilco. There be the Yin and Yang of it.