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bböp

Wilco — 9 November 2016, Utrecht, The Netherlands (TivoliVredenburg [Ronda])

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During the first encore tonight, a man near the front loudly said to Jeff in Dutch-accented English that "you can stay here if you don't want to go back to Trumpland." The comment, I think, was meant to be empathetic, but the tone of it was a tad too sharp and on this night of nights, Jeff couldn't help but respond. "Don't tell me that you don't have your own Trumps; I know you do," he said. But then, in a spirit of unity, Jeff added that "they will all be defeated. They'll all die and we'll rejoice. Until then, we play rock shows and sing to each other."

Music as catharsis. Yeah, that was the overarching theme of Wilco's first show since watching the stunning results of the U.S. election play out thousands of miles and an ocean away from home. I can't say I've been to a show quite like this one, one that started out with an uncertain, almost somber, mood and gradually turned into, if not exactly a celebration, then at least the sonic equivalent of a reassuring hug. But I, and maybe others, needed it. Needed to snap out of the malaise of despair I had been feeling and try to move forward somehow.

Eschewing the usual start to these recent Schmilco shows, the full band took the stage together and launched into a perfectly fitting Ashes Of American Flags that set the tone for the evening. Jeff doffed his hat to the crowd at the "I would like to salute..." line and raised his fist as a show of strength a couple of times.

Four songs in, after Cry All Day, when someone said, "I've been crying all day," Jeff took the opening to finally make his first comments. "I've been crying all day, too," he said. "We come to you brokenhearted, but we're on the side of righteousness. We're on the side of beauty. We're on the side of creation." And then Jeff added, "We will not waste tears on that motherfucker. I cry because I need to mourn and then prepare for what's next. Sometimes you don't want to play music when you feel so bad, but that's what it's for."

And with that, it was almost like a proverbial cloud had been lifted that allowed the show to proceed somewhat normally. Of course, things weren't normal by any means — one look at the other band members and their relatively subdued expressions could have told you that — but as the night went on, there was even a little levity. Toward the end of the main set, after hearing some song requests yelled out, Jeff teased the crowd by saying that this was "usually the point when people start yelling out songs that they don't think they're gonna hear." And shortly thereafter, Jeff even coaxed Glenn to stand up on his drum stool before the main set-closing I'm The Man Who Loves You (which doesn't happen too often anymore).

Like I said, catharsis. Nels found some of that for himself during his Impossible Germany solo, which he played aggressively and almost angrily at times. For his part, Jeff gestured toward the crowd during the "This is what love is for..." as if to emphasize the true meaning of that lyric.

Following IG, Jeff introduced We Aren't The World (Safety Girl) by saying that sometimes you write a song and it's 15 or 20 years later when you realize what it was about and sometimes you write one and it's only a few months before you do and the latter was the case with WATW, which was about where we're at right now. (As an aside, Jeff also commented before the subsequent rarity Say You Miss Me that he knew what that was about when he wrote it...sorta.)

As the show started to draw to a close, Jeff thanked the audience for coming out. "You guys made this evening so much better for us," he said. Making one more gesture toward unity before the show drew to a close, Jeff invited William Tyler — who had made his own earnest remarks about the healing power of music during his opening set — to join the band on California Stars. Jeff said it only felt right to have Tyler play with them since everyone had been consoling one another backstage, adding that "William's a very good hugger...if anybody wants to hug him."

Before going into the final encore, Jeff said he had one last thing to get off his chest. So he did. "There are more of us than (there are) of them," he said. "There always will be. The only way we lose power is to think we have none."

Here's hoping that all of us can keep those sorts of thoughts with us — and most importantly, the sense of catharsis that music (and art, in general) can provide — as we move into an unknown future. Certainly, thank you to Wilco and William Tyler for a show that I don't think I'll ever quite forget.

Here was the complete setlist as played (didn't get a look at a printed setlist, so I can't say if there were any changes):

Ashes Of American Flags
Normal American Kids
If I Ever Was A Child
Cry All Day
I Am Trying To Break Your Heart>
Art Of Almost
Pickled Ginger
Via Chicago
Misunderstood (hootenanny arrangement)
Someone To Lose
Reservations
Impossible Germany
We Aren't The World (Safety Girl)
Say You Miss Me
Random Name Generator
Jesus, etc.
Locator
Heavy Metal Drummer>
I'm The Man Who Loves You
-------------------------------------
Spiders (Kidsmoke) (electric arrangement)
Hummingbird
The Late Greats
--------------------------------------
California Stars (with William Tyler on electric guitar)
Passenger Side
A Shot in the Arm (hootenanny arrangement)

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Ashes opener makes perfect sense to me.

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Thanks for your detailed descriptions of both the content and mood of the show, bbop. Glad you got to be there to experience much needed catharsis. I can't imagine a better place to be on a day like today.  Art, and particularly music, is one of the few things that can lift us up, empower us and comfort us in times like these. It certainly did that for me today. Nobody can take that away from us. And like Jeff said, the only way we lose power is if we think we have none. 

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Thanks so much for somehow, as usual, being able to remember and convey so eloquently the details/nuances of the show and the feeling of being there. Personally, i would like to get from here in NYC to a few thousand miles away so could not be more psyched that we will be catching some much needed Wilco spiritual strengthening starting Saturday in Milan.  

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Great to hear that the show was such a positive experience for you and for the band. 

This is who we are - music lovers in a community of caring people enjoying the company of each other and always looking forward to our next opportunity for that catharsis. 

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Sounds like a wonderful evening, all things considered.

I'm assuming the rest of the band walked off stage after Ashes? 

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Sounds like a wonderful evening, all things considered.

I'm assuming the rest of the band walked off stage after Ashes?

No, they stayed on but just kind of stood and watched Jeff and Nels on NAK.

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Thank you for sharing the experience.  I thought I was done with the tears but shed a few more reading your comments and the band reactions to the shocking news. 

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Excellent review! It's tough back here, right now. So thanks for such a vivid account. Jeff's right, there ARE more of us and we have the power to drive them out.

 

Looking forward to SS and the much needed communal therapy it will provide. 

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Making one more gesture toward unity before the show drew to a close, Jeff invited William Tyler — who had made his own earnest remarks about the healing power of music during his opening set — to join the band on California Stars. Jeff said it only felt right to have Tyler play with them since everyone had been consoling one another backstage all day, adding that "if you need a hug, William's a very good hugger."

 

LYLEcR.jpg

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