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Wilco — 15 September 2016, Los Angeles, CA (The Theatre at Ace Hotel) [Night 3 of 3]


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Now that's more like it, Los Angeles! All in all, a pretty great way to close out an ever-eventful, three-night run at the Theatre at Ace Hotel. It seemed like there was much less in the way of crowd shenanigans than the first two shows — though an enthusiastic young woman in the front row briefly threatened to derail things —and that led the band to what was probably its most relaxed and assured performance of the run. :thumbup

 

Don't really have time to maybe craft as thorough a recap as this show probably deserves, but I'll definitely try to hit the highlights as best I can... :dancing

 

First off, I guess there will be a degree of excitement for some that Jeff and Co. finally decided to play Common Sense live for the first time. Love it or hate it, that is the Wilco Schmilco track that seems to have inspired the most reaction among the fanbase — and perhaps among the band members themselves. I haven't heard it enough to fully decide where I stand, but I can say that among the things I jotted down in my notes while the song was being played were "intense," "sunset lighting (referring to the red-orange background lighting that evoked a gorgeous sunset)," and "Nels...controlled shred." I think it's fair to say that it will be interesting to see how the live version develops as it gets played more often.

 

I had predicted to a couple friends that the band wouldn't be playing I Am Trying To Break Your Heart this tour, simply because Glenn has such a stripped-down drum setup (no crotales!) and based on the fact it wasn't played once in five San Francisco shows. Of course I was proven wrong when it appeared early in the set, transitioning into Kamera just as it does on Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. That two-fer really helped tonight's show take off, IMHO, bringing a jolt of energy to the crowd. :rock

 

Other musical highlights included some fierce soloing by Nels on Impossible Germany and Ashes of American Flags, among other songs. The former really brought the crowd to its feet, and it demonstrated its appreciation afterward with an especially loud ovation when Jeff introduced him as an Angeleno. Someone even shouted, "Nels for President!" But that sentiment was quickly shot down when Nels shook his head to express his disinterest in that job. I do wonder how much of Nels' inspired playing was influenced by the presence of his twin brother (and drummer par excellence) Alex in the audience.

 

From what I've heard from more than a few folks, what people are enjoying most about the setup for this tour is getting a chance to hear somewhat familiar songs in new ways. That was the case for a haunting Bull Black Nova, which got even creepier with darkened lighting and an accentuated fadeout, and I'm Always In Love, which the band returned to playing with electric instruments and as a result, sounded even a little more garage-y than usual.

 

About the only "letdown" was not getting to see what guitarist Dave Alvin (who opened the show alongside his older brother Phil) could do on California Stars. Now that would've been interesting. Alas it didn't happen, but the Alvins' presence on the bill did get Jeff to make his first extended remarks of the night. Jeff doesn't always remember to thank the opening band, or just does so briefly, but it was touching to hear him open up a bit about the Alvins. "It's so amazing to finally see Phil and Dave Alvin," Jeff said. "I don't think I'd be doing what I'm doing without them. We used to play a lot of their songs in the bands I was in before Uncle Tupelo. ... I'm so happy to share a stage with them."

 

Jeff also related a funny story about Nels' white double-neck guitar before Dawned On Me, saying that it had been a custom-ordered model that someone either forgot or neglected to pick up so Nels "got a really nice deal on it. I'm thinking Alex Lifeson (of Rush)." Other bits from Banter Corner included a comment about the crowd: "I like you best of the three audiences (in LA). I'm not saying the others were bad; they were weird. Sorry if any of you were part of those other audiences." And in thanking the Ace for having him and his bandmates, Jeff also joked about how he loved playing there because he never had to go outside (basically the layout of the building allows the band to go directly from the hotel to the venue). "I haven't been outside in three days," Jeff said. "I love it." :yes

 

About the only thing that seemed to give Jeff a little pause was a young woman in the front row who would periodically climb up on the lip of the stage right in front of him. (There was about a 20-foot gap, which looked possibly like a covered-up orchestra pit, between the front row of seats and where the band was set up.) Anyway, this woman who had been enthusiastically dancing for much of the show and who I think may have actually flashed the band during Impossible Germany, began to creep up onto the lip of the stage at the start of the first encore. When the band came back out, Jeff jokingly said, "Be careful, ma'am. You're very close to getting kicked out. This is a barrier we put up for a reason." Then after nearly botching Passenger Side ("Not my best performance of that song," Jeff said), he blamed the creeping woman for distracting him. "Don't sit there," Jeff said, pointing in her direction. "You look like you're ready to pounce or something. ... It's very unnerving." :unsure

 

Fortunately security more or less reined the woman in after that, and what could have been an odd situation simply turned into a footnote in what ultimately was a triumphant finale. On the heels of the five-night residency at the Fillmore last week, I'd say that these extended West Coast runs seem to suit the band just fine.

 

Here was the complete setlist, as played, for Night 3 (finally saw a printed setlist, and there didn't appear to have been any changes to the program):

 

Normal American Kids^

If I Ever Was A Child

Cry All Day

Wishful Thinking

I Am Trying To Break Your Heart>

Kamera

The Joke Explained

Misunderstood

Someone To Lose

Common Sense (live debut)

Bull Black Nova

The Lonely 1

Impossible Germany

Far, Far Away

Nope

Theologians

Ashes of American Flags

Locator

Dawned On Me

Heavy Metal Drummer

Hummingbird

We Aren't The World (Safety Girl)

The Late Greats

--------------------------------

Jesus, etc.

Passenger Side

I'm Always In Love

Pickled Ginger

Spiders (Kidsmoke) (electric arrangement)

--------------------------------

California Stars

A Shot in the Arm

 

^ — Jeff Tweedy and Nels Cline only

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I went to the 9/10 and 9/11 Fillmore shows and as great as they were, LA last night was my favorite of the three shows I was lucky to attend due to the great selection, reinterpretations of some songs and relaxed vibe.

 

The only thing that detracted from that was the overzealous security who kept pointing their flashlights at people taking pictures. Now, I agree that there are too many people holding up their cell phones at shows these days but at a certain point it was the security guys distracting from the performance. 

 

Even worse, security at first wouldn't let people stand up during the songs, motioning people to sit down every time someone would do so. But at soon as I Am Trying to Break Your Heart started a bunch of folks stood up and started dancing and by the time they segued into Camera most people in the front orchestra area were standing and cheered even more loudly when the song ended.

 

Jeff had a puzzled reaction, asking "What's going on guys?" He added he was a bit confused but delighted with what was going on.

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Sad to see this run come to an end. What a difference a different seat can make. Last night we were off to the far side of the balcony and the sound was echoey and we were on the rail behind the main aisle so a constant stream of ushers with their flashlights and patrons walking by was distracting. I think Wilco played great but the sounds and sights lost their vividness and the subtle details that were so clear down on the floor the night before were harder to discern for me. Ashes was the main highlight for us, so poignant and full of pathos that it brought my wife LD to tears. It means a lot to us as it was the Ashes dvd that made us Wilco fanatics and we got to see it at our first show. Nels took a long lyrical epic solo that reminded me of the Grateful Dead's Bird Song, so beautiful! To me that song is like It Makes No Difference by The Band or Take It To The Limit by the Eagles, a classic signature song that almost everyone responds to. LD responds to it like she does to Elvis' American Trilogy, with tears and an emotion that is hard to describe but obvious when you feel the song pull it out of you.

 

Also got immersed into Far Far Away sounding like Hank Williams Sr came back to life, it's incredible their authentic mastery of so many genres even historical ones. My first Kidsmoke lived up to my high hopes, they slammed into the riff so wonderfully hard.

 

So now the post show letdown is only eased by lucking into Tedeschi Trucks across the street tonight. Sure would like to have more Wilco on the calendar though, they are the best band playing now IMO.

To get one show like the 14th where all the personal and external variables fall together is a great gift and enough to keep me appreciative and wanting more!

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Other bits from Banter Corner included a comment about the crowd: "I like you best of the three audiences (in LA). I'm not saying the others were bad; they were weird. Sorry if any of you were part of those other audiences." And in thanking the Ace for having him and his bandmates, Jeff also joked about how he loved playing there because he never had to go outside (basically the layout of the building allows the band to go directly from the hotel to the venue). "I haven't been outside in three days," Jeff said. "I love it." :yes

A moment later as the crowd got a bit rowdy, some people beginning to call things out, Jeff warned, "Your audience ratings could drop." :lol

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I was lucky enough to go to night 2 and 3 in LA. 

 

Night 2 was a little odd and Jeff was calling out the people in the front row.

Some guys behind me keep talking and I shot him a look a few times.

Almost got into it with him....odd vibe that night but Wilco sounded great. 

 

Night 3 much different vibe and I was so happy to see Dave and Phil Alvin.

When there were playing at one point Dave said something like "Hey Wilco fans check this out, I was ahead of my time ...or maybe behind" Then he played "Fourth of July" with a great solo.

It really would have been good to see them all play "California Stars"....but I loved both shows and love the new stuff....got my fix.

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  • 3 months later...

I was at the show.  There was a guy in about 4th row that the security guards tried to get to sit down during Kamera.  He wouldn't sit and then they guard called him over and he started arguing with the security guard and then another security guard came over and he was arguing with both of them, then the second guard waved off the first one.  The guy then started clapping and telling everyone "We are going to dance!" over and over agin and getting the entire crowd to stand up.  We were happy to join in if you listen to the Roadcase you can hear it happening at about the 1 minute mark in the song at at the end of the song the band extends the end to let the crowd cheer.  Then Tweedy said "What's going you guys? Well, whatever's happening out there keep it up. Its confusing, delightful"

 

Think that may be the "jolt of energy" you are referring to" bbop

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