Wilco injected some “Canadianarama,” as frontman Jeff Tweedy called it, into their Americanarama Festival of Music last night at Toronto’s Molson Amphitheatre by inviting Leslie Feist onstage for a couple of numbers, including one by her fellow Canadian Leonard Cohen.
That’s a double shot, but there was more Canadianarama than that.
The tour, headlined by Bob Dylan, also features My Morning Jacket and Britain’s Richard Thompson. Last night’s performance featured plenty of you-play-on-mine, I’ll-play-on-yours – yes, even with Dylan.
Dressed in a short white dress, a great choice for the sweltering evening, Feist first came out to revisit her duet with Tweedy on “You and I,” the 2009 song on which she appears on Wilco (The Album). They have performed it together many times, including on the Late Show with David Letterman in 2009 and Wilco’s concert that year at Toronto’s Massey Hall, so her appearance at Americanarama in her city wasn’t really a big surprise, just a nice one.
Just a little later she came out again (along with Thompson) to partake in a cover of Cohen’s “Suzanne.” With Feist in the picture, they came closest to Fairport Convention’s version of the song, which was done as a duet for a BBC recording in 1968 between Sandy Denny and Iain Matthews. Wilco also fired up Fairport’s “Sloth” with Thompson. And so the night was filled with these interweavings.
In the audience were a number of noted Canadian musicians, including Hayden, Tom Wilson and Paul James (a Fifties-style purist whom Dylan has pulled onstage several times, but not this night). They got to see one of their own, Canadian producer-musician Colin Linden, play in Dylan’s band, replacing Duke Robillard, who was let go two weeks ago.
As the concert neared the end, Tweedy and My Morning Jacket’s Jim James met Dylan onstage for a jam on the traditional spiritual that features the fitting lyric “Oh, what a beautiful city,” with Dylan giving a shout-out to Massey Hall.