Several posts back, I suggested that the "4-piece" incarnation of WILCO from 2001-2003 was my favorite brand of Wilco, at least live. Frail band post-Jay Bennett, audibly searching for their place behind Jeff Tweedy choosing to carry the torch on lead guitar, performances completely challenging audiences, amazingly-dynamic performances, etc.
I'm not changing that opinion, but I've found an even better gig from that era that really shows the depth the band was able to develop relying solely on Jeff Tweedy as the lead guitar.
From June 28, 2003, this Philadelphia, PA soundboard recording - as good as it gets regarding non-official live Wilco - features the 4-piece lineup as a 5-piece, with the soon-to-officially-join-band Mikael Jorgenson on keyboards and laptop duties. Jorgenson enhances Tweedy's Television-esque guitar skronk with Mission of Burma-style loops and feedback (see the segue between "Reservations" and "I Am Trying To Break Your Heart", for example), and adds occasional piano and keyboards to the performance as well.
This gig has a really good early version of "Muzzle of Bees" done up electric style, in contrast to the stunning acoustic beauty of the recorded version on the band's 2004 LP A Ghost Is Born.
"At Least That's What You Said" ends on a very long, very impressive Tweedy electric guitar wigout, obviously influenced by the New York 1970's No Wave scene (think Richard Lloyd/Television). It's otherworldly, and probably the best pre-2004 performance of this track I've ever heard.
Furthermore, longtime band friend (and producer) Jim O'Rourke joins the participants onstage for a spectacular Loose Fur raveup on track 17 "Laminated Cat" (or "Not For The Season", call it what you will). It's by FAR the best performance of this track I've come across, and I've searched for many as it borders on my favorite live Wilco track of all time.
"Spiders (kidsmoke)" is (relatively) close to the version they'd capture on the Ghost LP, with a heavy Krautrock influence that would only get stronger on the LP version. And any Wilco fan will love the full-on guitar assault starting with "Red-Eyed and Blue" and ending on the vintage "Casino Queen".
This show betters the Tampa gig from 2002 that I previously posted, in all ways. And furthermore, it's been fixed up from what was circulating in the past, if you're at all even remotely a fan of the band I strongly suggest you grab this.
Lossless FLAC, even!
There is only one small, minute problem with this otherwise-spotless recording - apparently Tweedy is suffering from a loose guitar cable during the first 1/4 of "Misunderstood" which leads to ugly crackling in the right channel. But it would have sounded the same at the gig, too, so you take what you can get! Needless to say it does clear up and all ends up great.
28 June 2003
Penn's Landing, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA
*mastered soundboard recording*
01 I'm Always In Love
02 Muzzle Of Bees
03 I'm The Man Who Loves You
04 Poor Places
06 I Am Trying To Break Your Heart
07 War On War
08 At Least That's What You Said
09 Via Chicago
10 Jesus, etc.
11 Spiders (kidsmoke)
12 Red-Eyed and Blue
13 I Got You (At The End Of The Century)
14 We've Been Had (Uncle Tupelo)
16 Casino Queen
17 Not For The Season (or Laminated Cat, you choose) (with Jim O'Rourke)
18 Kicking Television
20 California Stars
Split across 6 RAR files here.