Wilco Rehearses ‘The Weight’ Backstage in Chicago with Mavis Staples and Nick Lowe

In Decem­ber, the alter­na­tive rock band Wilco played a spe­cial series of home­town shows called the “Incred­i­ble Shrink­ing Tour of Chica­go.”

The tour kicked off on Decem­ber 12 at the majes­tic Civic Opera House and con­tin­ued over the next four nights, mov­ing to suc­ces­sive­ly small­er and more inti­mate venues: the Riv­iera, the Vic, the Metro, and final­ly Lin­coln Hall, with a capac­i­ty of only 500 peo­ple.

At the opera house on open­ing night, Wilco played a 24-song ret­ro­spec­tive of the band’s 18-year his­to­ry, fol­lowed by an extend­ed series of encores fea­tur­ing Mavis Sta­ples and Nick Lowe. The grand finale was a stir­ring ren­di­tion of The Band’s clas­sic “The Weight.”

Pho­tog­ra­ph­er Zoran Orlic caught a spe­cial moment before the show (above), when the musi­cians gath­ered in the dress­ing room to rehearse “The Weight.” You can see ama­teur footage of the on-stage per­for­mance of the song here, and learn more about the con­cert (plus see a clip of the band per­form­ing “One Sun­day Morn­ing”) on the WXRT web­site.

And for an inter­est­ing com­par­i­son, watch The Band’s per­for­mance of “The Weight” (below) from Mar­tin Scors­ese’s film The Last Waltz, which also fea­tures a guest appear­ance by Mavis Sta­ples, along with her father and sis­ters in The Sta­ple Singers. Although the film con­sist­ed most­ly of footage from The Band’s farewell con­cert on Novem­ber 25, 1976, Scors­ese filmed “The Weight” after­ward, on an MGM sound­stage.

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