Jump to content

Wilco — 6 June 2019, Knoxville, TN (Bijou Theatre) [Night 2 of 2]

Recommended Posts

The challenge for a band, of course, when playing a pair of de facto warm-up concerts to shake off the cobwebs of an 18-month layoff is to still put on a good show for the audience. Given the overwhelmingly friendly makeup of said audience — once again, it seemed like the vast majority of the 700 or so inside the Bijou Theatre tonight were either super-ardent fans who had traveled from afar and seen Wilco many, many times or enthusiastic locals who were thrilled the band had chosen to visit their little corner of the world — that probably wasn’t too hard to achieve.


Nevertheless Jeff and his bandmates all but ensured a satisfied crowd by playing an entirely different set from the previous evening, revisiting some older favorites and adopting a “less talk, more rock” strategy. :rock


Though Jeff periodically checked in with the audience throughout the show — early on, he recycled a bit about what he calls “the reverse David Lee Roth” about how his fans tend to check in with him and ask how he’s doing instead of the other way around — it wasn’t until the first encore when he finally paid a bonafide visit to Banter Corner. He sincerely thanked everyone for coming out, then proclaimed that “Wilco is back and ready to reclaim our title as the second-best band behind the Foo Fighters in the eyes of the Grammys.” When boos rained down at that sentiment, Jeff continued, with a smile, “That’s all right. We’re OK with that.”


Certainly Wilco wasn't nearly at its peak in just its second show back after its longest hiatus ever. But in the humble opinion of this observer, the highs hit on this night by even a semi-rusty Jeff and Co. were on a par with the apex of any band currently operating — the Foo Fighters notwithstanding. :thumbup


And if you had to specify the highest of the highs, you would have to say it came on the main set-closing Misunderstood. If you have seen Wilco or Jeff solo over the past decade or so, you know that this venerable warhorse has gone through a variety of arrangements from the stripped-down “hootenanny” version to Jeff’s solo acoustic guitar skronk rendition. But at the Bijou, Wilco performed it close to the original album arrangement with the noisy beginning followed by a slow, deliberate acoustic guitar strum by Jeff in the early verses replacing the more keyboard-heavy album version leading to the mid-song build by the rest of the band and then concluding with some positively anthemic “Nothings” propelled by Glenn’s drums that boomed through the theater. It was a perfectly powerful way to walk off stage and put an exclamation point of sorts on the main set.


A few songs earlier, Reservations also was as captivating as ever with the excellent acoustics allowing for the rippling air pressure variations in Glenn’s drums to be fully appreciated when he blew into his tube. It was also nice to see Jeff break out a 12-string guitar on a couple of occasions — I don’t seem to remember him playing 12-string in a good long while — on Hesitating Beauty and the somewhat-surprising What Light. I forget how much I like the latter, especially with John and Pat’s harmonies at the end.


And in keeping with the aforementioned “less talk, more rock” mentality, the band also ran through quite a few of its barn-burners, including an unusual mid-set Red-Eyed and Blue>I Got You (At The End of the Century) and then the Outtasite (Outta Mind)/I’m A Wheel two-fer to conclude the first encore. (Although the planned second encore of Monday and Hoodoo Voodoo that was on the printed setlist was abandoned in favor of A Shot in the Arm. Hoodoo, in particular, would have been slightly sadder than usual because Josh — aka the cowbell roadie — is not with the band for this initial return to touring.)


As to be expected, there were a few hiccups. Jeff had one of his only lyric flubs on Laminated Cat, for example, singing the “Springtime comes…” lyric twice, and the overall performance of that song was a tad rough. But in general, the rough patches were subtle ones when the band just didn’t totally click on a tempo or Jeff seemingly struggled with his cadence at times. On a couple of other occasions, a song would end slightly awkwardly — I caught Jeff and Nels exchanging smiles at the end of Theologians, for instance, when Jeff seemed unsure whether to play the ending riff or not (he did). Again, it was very subtle stuff that I’m sure most people wouldn’t notice or even care about but, hey, if you’re reading this, perhaps you do. ;)


Well, what else to say? It will be interesting to see if these Knoxville shows end up being anomalies as the band embarks upon a more regular course of touring with two separate jaunts to Europe sandwiched around their shows at Solid Sound later this month. Were these performances merely a treat for hardcore fans (and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the reigning hardest of the hardcores, our own theashtraysays, once again got a mid-show mention — or was it a gentle chastisement? — by Jeff when he held up one of his trademark signs: “I see the sign, Vince. Put the sign away. Yes, I know all your names,”) as the band worked to get its proverbial mojo back? Or were they an indication that there will be some slightly deeper cuts mixed into some of the European setlists? And what will the shows look like when Jeff and his bandmates finally make their full-fledged American return, presumably with a new record in tow, later this year?


I, for one, will be fascinated to find out, as I’m sure the 30 or so people reading this will be. And the rest of the ever-evolving Wilco fanbase. Well, maybe not the guys who generated a couple of the other brief bits of semi-banter from Jeff tonight — one guy with a booming voice yelled out a request for Casino Queen late in the show which Jeff heard and promptly stuck his tongue out and gave a double thumbs-down in response and another apparently yelled out for Handshake Drugs after Laminated Cat (and after the band had already played Handshake earlier in the set), which prompted Jeff to deadpan, “We just played it.” I guess some things never change. :lol


Here was the complete setlist, as played, for Night 2 at the Bijou:


You Are My Face

Muzzle Of Bees

I Am Trying To Break Your Heart>


I'll Fight

Handshake Drugs


She's A Jar

Red-Eyed and Blue>

I Got You (At The End of the Century)

California Stars

Hesitating Beauty

Bull Black Nova

Laminated Cat (aka Not For The Season)

Box Full Of Letters


Side With The Seeds

At Least That's What You Said




Ashes Of American Flags

What Light

Outtasite (Outta Mind)

I'm A Wheel


A Shot in the Arm

Link to post
Share on other sites

Night 1 looked like a really good set list. Night 2 looks like an incredible set list - maybe the best (non-SS) set list I can remember from the past decade or so. You Are My Face, Muzzle of Bees, I'll Fight, She's A Jar, Hesitating Beauty, Laminated Cat, Reservations, Side with the Seeds, Theologians, and Ashes - top notch. Some fortunate folks in Knoxville tonight.

Link to post
Share on other sites

“Reservations” and “Laminated Cat” were highlights for me, for very different reasons. The former’s arrangement was maybe the best I’d ever heard (this was show 18 for me) and the latter got noisier than I remember it getting in recent years. Jeff seemed to relish playing electric guitar after doing so many solo shows.


Both shows were great, but I think night 2 has the edge. That may be because I finally got “Red-Eyed>Century,” which has eluded me for years.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll chime in to say thanks bbop as always for these through recaps! I look forward to these every tour. If you're ever wondering whether the work you put into these is appreciated or not, it is!


Great setlist last night. Surprising though that the newest song on there is from 2009. Nothing from any of the last three Wilco albums.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Had not seen the band in probably 5 or 6 years.

Show number 12 for me.

Absolutely blistering performance last night. I drove down from Louisville. Took my daughter to her first Wilco Show.

Could not have asked for more.

Jeff’s voice was on point as always.

Great room. Saw Sturgill there 4 years ago. As great as he was/is. He didn’t fill it on a sonic level the way they did last night.

Might make a trip to Birmingham in Oct.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Night 2 might go down as one of my top 5 wilco shows ever. The set list was incredible.

Really tickled to hear Laminated Cat in that room again. I saw Jeff solo at the Bijou back in 2006 and he had a really funny bit where some lady yelled for it, and he yelled it back with a put on southern accent. I laughed so hard I cried, and to this day my sister and I still joke about it.


While, it would have been nice to been down front with all my friends, our seats mid-way back afforded a great view of the set design. I’m dubbing it the magic junkyard set. Really lovely. I was just so stoked to even be in the room.


It was so nice to see Jeff playing his red SG’s again. Super stoked for the fall shows (and maybe Solid Sound if things work out).


Wilco is back!


We skipped out on the poster(s) this time, but I did grab one of the show specific shirts. Never had one specifically for a couple shows, only ever the tour specific shirts. Really neat design complete with the Sun Sphere.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 month later...

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...