Published Sep 21, 2015After changing their name to the more modish CityFolk, Ottawa's Folk Festival underwent a substantial expansion for their 2015 edition. Moving to the grounds of the newly refurbished Lansdowne Park (home to the city's CFL team), CityFolk brought in an impressive line-up of headliners, culminating with Wilco's Sunday night (September 20) performance that closed out the five-day festival.
As expected by anyone who has read any sort of press on Wilco's 2015 tour, the Chicago sextet spent the first half-hour of their 90-minute set performing their new album track-by-track. Coming off like a late-era Bob Dylan (complete with straw cowboy hat and greying beard), Wilco leader Jeff Tweedy lifelessly mumbled his way through Star Wars' 11-tracks, with the only highlight being Nels Cline's unbridled guitar playing on tracks like "You Satellite" and "King of You."
After watching flocks of audience members abandon the festival grounds throughout the show's first half hour, Tweedy thanked those still in attendance before launching into a lively version of "Forget the Flowers" from their sophomore album, Being There, a sign that their set was designed for hardcore Wilco fans. Pulling out terrific album tracks like "I'm Always in Love," "Jesus, Etc." and "Born Alone," Wilco looked and sounded revitalized and sharp, giving tracks like "Handshake Drugs," "Art of Almost" and "Heavy Metal Drummer" sonic makeovers, even adding electronic backbeats to the latter two.
As the band reached back a decade to close with fan-favourite "The Late Greats," Wilco's road-tested show and onstage charisma proved that even 30 minutes of new, less beloved material couldn't stop these alt-country vets from winning over the crowd.