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Wilco — 15 June 2019, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (Paradiso) [Night 1 of 2]

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When a friend casually mentioned before Wilco took the stage last night that it was the band’s first performance at Paradiso in nearly a decade, I don’t think it really registered with me. In the years following the release of A Ghost Is Born, when I really started going to more than my fair share of shows, it seemed like Jeff and his bandmates would — like clockwork — make a tour stop at Amsterdam’s renowned church-turned-club every two years. But when I went back and looked at it, tonight’s first of two concerts here was indeed the band’s first proper Amsterdam gig in nearly 10 full years. :blink


Of course there have been more than a few Wilco (and related) shows in the Netherlands since then, both at festivals and in smaller cities, but it seemed like it was about time for a show or two back in the capital. And befitting the true melting-pot character of the city, as at the previous shows in Brussels, it seemed like there were a dozen languages or more being spoken by excited showgoers in the queue outside waiting to enter and in front of the stage prior to the show.


One of those showgoers, perhaps unwittingly, set Jeff up perfectly for his best line of the night about midway through the show. That’s when, in the middle of a mini-Mermaid Avenue bloc, a spontaneous “Olé, olé” chant started near the front of the stage. Jeff looked down from the high stage and spotted the source of the chanting and asked the group if they were from Spain, thanked them for coming and gave them a little bit of a hard time about traveling here when the band would be playing in Spain the following weekend. One guy clarified that they had come from Catalonia, then informed Jeff, “You’re going to have to cope with us again tomorrow.” To which Jeff, of course, shot back, “I’m barely coping with you now.” :lol


(Speaking of coping, our own theashtraysays aka Vince threw another challenge Jeff’s way not long after when he tried to “go local” with his signage and briefly held aloft a placard that bore the Dutch translation of “Bull Black Nova” to try and garner some crowd support. Unfortunately for the Sign Man, it was to no avail as Jeff gently declined the request with a simple “Nice try, Vince.”)


Bleak murder songs notwithstanding, there were plenty of other musical highlights to mention from Night 1. Chief among them was the surprise appearance of the rarely performed Country Disappeared, which Jeff even acknowledged the band hadn’t played in a long time. Being slightly to Nels’ side personally, it was cool to hear some of the little accents and textures he was adding to the song. And the aforementioned Mermaid Avenue bloc was fun as well, with Jeff playing 12-string guitar and Nels lap steel on California Stars (which I’m pretty sure isn’t usually the case).


Hesitating Beauty brought probably the most humorous musical moment of the evening when Jeff realized he had his capo positioned slightly incorrectly and stopped to adjust it. While he stopped, however, Glenn and John kept the rhythm going and Jeff managed to pick the song right back up in stride. I’m sure I’m not really doing it justice, but it was a cool little moment if you were paying attention. Then later on in the song, Nels played an electric guitar solo that must have even surprised Jeff a bit because he looked over and Nels smiled back at him and gave sort of a half-shrug, as if to say, “Yeah, I’m not sure what that was either.” :guitar


Certainly this was far from a polished performance, given that the band had to stop and restart at least a couple of songs in the second half of the set and you can tell that it is still working on subtleties like transitions between songs (Reservations>Side With The Seeds, for example) and grappling with whether or not to renew some old rituals like Glenn’s bit before I’m The Man Who Loves You. The on-stage crew, as well, has a couple of new members, so when the band decides to deviate from its printed setlist, such as scrapping What Light at the start of the first encore tonight, there seems to be maybe a little more scrambling than usual.


I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention that I noticed that tonight’s set also contained a few songs that either included the word “high” or contained drug allusions — I Must Be High, Locator, Red-Eyed and Blue, among others — and I remember that was always a little bit of an underlying joke with shows in Amsterdam. We were only missing Deeper Down tonight, with its lyric about “the tallest Dutch dope high,” and maybe Passenger Side, to complete the debauched Wilco mini-setlist. :devil


At any rate, it was definitely nice to be back at the Paradiso. Even though it’s not necessarily the most ideal venue for being right up front because of its, ahem, higher-than-usual stage, and the acoustics can be a bit muddled in places, it is still a charming, relatively intimate 1,500-capacity room the likes of which Wilco does not often play in America too much anymore. And being back in Europe for these past few shows, it is also cool to see how the band’s fanbase has expanded to include enthusiastic fans from more than a few corners of the world — even if some of those fans can be a handful on occasion. :pirate


Here was the complete setlist, as played, for Night 1 at Paradiso (as mentioned, What Light was on the printed setlist as the first song of the first encore but wasn't played):


You Are My Face

Muzzle Of Bees

War On War

If I Ever Was A Child

Cry All Day

One Wing


Country Disappeared

I Must Be High

California Stars

Hesitating Beauty

Remember The Mountain Bed

Impossible Germany

Someone To Lose

Born Alone


Side With The Seeds

Red-Eyed and Blue>

I Got You (At The End of the Century)

The Late Greats


Jesus, etc.


Dawned On Me

I'm The Man Who Loves You


A Shot in the Arm

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