At the end of her opening set Sunday night at the Palace Theatre, Gaelynn Lea wittily urged the crowd, "Stick around for Wilco." But she seriously could've said, "Stick around for Wilco with Gaelynn Lea."
The Duluth star -- who gained international attention after winning NPR's Tiny Desk Contest in 2016 -- followed her pals in Low to the warm-up slot on the last night of Wilco's three-night stand at St. Paul's reborn theater. And like Low, she joined the headliners during the encore, delivering not one but two songs with them.
First, she helped fill in the lush atmospherics in "An Empty Corner" with her violin, a gem from the new Wilco record "Ode to Joy" not played the other two nights. Even better, she took the final soloing slot in the fan favorite "California Stars," following Pat Sansone's banjo break with a dramatic, crescendoing part that had frontman Jeff Tweedy and the whole crowd beaming by the end. And Tweedy doesn't beam a whole lot. Clips from her starry turn with the band are posted below.
And that's all she wrote on Wilco's latest local marathon. Sunday's performance was the mellowest of the three nights, with "One Wing," "How to Fight Loneliness" and "Summer Teeth" all newly mixed into the set list and "Side with the Seeds" and "Theologians" brought back from Friday's show (reviewed here). Saturday takes the prize as the rowdiest and wildest of the weekend. That night had "At Least That's What You Said" and the "Being There"-era twofer encore of "Red-Eyed & Blue" and "I Got You (At the End of the Century)" adding guitar volume, while "Heavy Metal Drummer" and the little-played "Hesitating Beauty" sparked even more warm audience singalongs.
While we're awaiting word on next year's four-night November run at the Palace – just wishful thinking at this point on this writer's part, but why not? – we did hear talk that a March gig at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center's Symphony Hall will soon be announced. If you look at the shows already on the band's itinerary that month, you can pretty well guess where the show will fall in the tour routing. Unless they're playing a gig in Embarrass, Minn., too.