Five stars

Such is the breadth and depth of Jeff Tweedy’s 30-year canon – from the scruffy alt-country of Uncle Tupelo to the complex rock tapestries of Wilco, through side projects too profuse to list here – that were an alien to land on Earth and request an entry point representative of the Illinoisian’s core strengths they would be sorely disappointed.

It is across 10 albums with Wilco, a group in a seemingly eternal state of bloom, that Tweedy’s inquisitive musicianship has found widest acclaim, and tonight’s set draws the biggest draughts from them, siphoning off all but the main elements of songs that inhabit a spectrum bounded on one side by experimentalism (Bull Black Nova) and on the other by Elvis-friendly rock and roll (I’m the Man Who Loves You).

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In between lie songs that float like motes of dust in sunlight (the mezzo piano strum of Via Chicago, You and I), stir the spirit (the encores Misunderstood and A Shot in the Arm) and reveal Tweedy’s expert capacity for masking elaborate chord shifts and presenting them as effortless pop tunes (the heartstopping One Wing, Hummingbird). All the while Tweedy stands in full dress-down mode, resembling a tubbier, happier Johnny Depp.

At one point he admits to giving the audience what it wants – after all, he reckons it’s 24 years since he last played the capital with Uncle Tupelo – and duly we get a swaying rendition of that group’s New Madrid and a crowdpleasing California Stars from Mermaid Avenue. But he’s also smart enough to indulge himself with Laminated Cat by Loose Fur, his mischievous side project with Jim O’Rourke and Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche.

Tonight is proof that, unfastened from the intricate treatments bestowed upon them on record, Tweedy’s succinct, fatless songs stand undiminished. You suspect that was his goal all along. It’s an objective that is no less praiseworthy for its simplicity.