Dan Wilson charms the pants off the Pantages Theatre


Dan Wilson photo by Steve Cohen. Click here for Steve's slideshow.

The sold-out crowd at the Pantages was held at rapt attention for a two-plus hour performance by Dan Wilson. The evening was split into two sets: an acoustic, mostly solo set in which Wilson alternated between guitar and piano, and a longer set with a full backing band that included his Semisonic bandmate John Munson on bass, Erik Fawcett on drums, and Steve Roehm on vibes. Wilson joked early on that it would be "Dan Wilson opening for Dan Wilson," and spent the second half of the set referring to "that opener, Dan Olson," who he said was "pretty good" and had some "sweet songs."

Wilson spent a lot of time between songs joking with the audience, which is something that has become a defining characteristic of his live performances. Another defining characteristic? Swinging his hips back and forth Elvis-style as he played his guitar, which prompted swells of loud cheers and giggles from all of the middle-aged women in the audience.

As he is wont to do, Wilson spent the evening alternating between songs off of last year's solo album, Free Life, and old Semisonic and Trip Shakespeare songs. And on this evening, he threw in a few surprises: the opening song, "Hand on My Heart," included an interlude of Bob Dylan's "Tangled Up in Blue," and Wilson revisited Dylan later in the evening with a straightforward cover of "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight."

The further he got into his set, the more Wilson pressed for audience participation, commanding the audience to stand up, clap along and sing to favorites like "All Kinds" and "Made to Last." And judging from the way the audience reacted to every strum of his guitar and swing of his hip, he could have gotten them to do just about anything.