Wilco / The M’s Massey Hall, Toronto, ON - July 7, 2006

"What, is it a Sunday? What’s wrong?” Jeff Tweedy was two songs away from the end of an uncompromisingly amazing set by Wilco when he could no longer bear his rapt — but seated — audience. Though they greeted every Wilco favourite with uproarious applause and sent guitar and drum solos off with appreciative cheers, the moment the crowd abandoned their soft seats the roof almost flew off of Massey Hall. Armed with their enviable catalogue of songs and a few surprises, America’s best band rolled into town and turned a majestic 3,000-seat theatre into a post-modern rock’n’roll club. It’s no easy task, as openers the M’s discovered. The four-piece from Chicago posses many hallmarks of their hometown’s close-knit musical community. The polyrhythmic drumming is Bonham-esque, the guitars are sludgy and their pop songs are eclectic. Combined with gang-vocal harmonies, they approximated some kind of Dinosaur Jr.-meets-Skydiggers sound that was dull and lost in the muddy mix. Looking a bit like Charles Manson in a Norm Peterson suit jacket, Jeff Tweedy limped on stage behind the breathtakingly great musicians who round out Wilco. Toronto received the premiere public performance of "There’s a Light,” an unreleased folk ballad. After wonder drummer Glen Kotche punctuated "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” and Tweedy winked his way through "Handshake Drugs,” a new song entitled "Impossible Germany” revealed itself. Aided by the twin keyboard assaults of Patrick Sansone and Mikael Jorgensen, "A Shot in the Arm” jolted the room, as did the roaring guitars of Tweedy and Nels Cline on "At Least that’s What You Said.” Two stops on Mermaid Avenue seemed appropriate within the hallowed folk hall before the heavy, Zeppelin-flavoured "Walken” set off a flurry of rockers. Somewhere in the midst of this, Tweedy called us "motherfuckers” for sitting on our asses all night. After this mock display of rage, the room burst out of its relative malaise, giddily rising up to ignite two stunning encores with the spirit of Friday night. For an experimental rock band pushing every boundary possible, a dream Wilco line-up came and conquered Toronto with disarming ease.