Audiences generally respond better to the familiar than the new at big rock shows, but Wilco fans are smart enough to savor new material as Jeff Tweedy and company work them out live before heading to the studio in November.
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Recent set lists show the band mixing three or four new tunes (including "Impossible Germany," "What Light" and "Let's Fight") into their sets, which otherwise reach all the way back to A.M. and draw heavily from A Ghost Is Born. For this tour, "and company" is essentially the lineup that created the disappointing Ghost, but with avant-garde virtuoso guitarist Nels Cline replacing LeRoy Bach. Anyone who saw them in 2004 (or bought Kicking Television: Live in Chicago) heard how much Cline adds to the songs from Ghost and to chaotic-yet-tight improvisations on oldies such as "Misunderstood" and "A Shot in the Arm." Hopefully as they head to the studio, he and Jay Bennett's multi-instrumental replacement, Pat Sansone, can keep Tweedy from indulging himself with Ghost-ly classic-rock jams--even if the band makes them exciting and new live.