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Wilco — 7 September 2019, Bergen, Norway (USF Verftet [Røkeriet])


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[Once again, thread parking until I get a chance to do some more substantial blathering...but we're now up to eight Ode To Joy songs played! OK, commencing blather...]

 

With each day seemingly bringing a new song, you could argue that these days leading up to the release of a new album are among the most exciting times to be a fan of a band. And especially to have the opportunity to see the members of said band perform those new songs night in and night out as they get more and more comfortable with the material is something I don’t take for granted.

 

So it was in Bergen tonight that Wilco added another live debut of a song off the forthcoming Ode To Joy, this time closing out its main set with Hold Me Anyway. It seemed to start off as a lullabye of sorts, but as with many of the songs on OTJ, it develops into something more complex. What a haunting passage this is, from that song: “Are we all in love just because?/No! I think it’s poetry and magic/Something too big to have a name/And when you get it right it’s still tragic/And when you die, who’s to blame?” (Incidentally, the lyrics for all the OTJ songs that have been played live seem to be available on Wilcoworld now. Click on song titles for lyrics.)

 

Anyway, I did notice that Hold Me Anyway was another song, of at least a couple on OTJ I’ve heard thus far, in which the title doesn’t appear anywhere in the lyrics. One and a Half Stars, with its “So what/I stay/in bed/all day/I can’t/escape/my domain” chorus, is another. This has seemed to be more characteristic of Jeff’s songwriting lately, even with his solo work (for example, Having Been Is No Way To Be initially being called New Wave Theater). It begs the question of how these titles that have no direct relation to the lyrics come about.

 

Though OTJ songs obviously aren’t brand new to the band, it nevertheless must be exciting to finally present them to an audience. Jeff, in particular, seemed to have a little extra spring in his step as he bounced around the stage, even lightly jogging in place a couple of times. And his guitar playing was especially dynamic, on songs both old and new. On Bull Black Nova and Laminated Cat, the outro sections were both extended a bit longer than usual and Jeff was once again seriously working the whammy bar on his guitar. He once again added the riff ending on Theologians. And on I’m The Man Who Loves You, I actually thought we might even get a reprise of the sashay he used to do. :dance

 

The venue in Bergen, the USF Verftet, is an old waterfront sardine factory (USF standing for United Sardine Factories) that has been converted into an arts complex that has multiple concert rooms as well as cinemas, a restaurant, etc. Wilco played in the largest of the concert halls, Røkeriet, which was still surprisingly intimate and sounded extremely sharp. This wasn’t the first time Wilco had played Bergen, however, after an outdoor festival set just over three years earlier.

 

Perhaps the only negative I could point out about the 2-hour, 17-minute Bergen show was a few audience members who were not only a bit chatty during Spiral Stairs’ opening set but continued to repeatedly shout out requests during Wilco’s performance even after it was clear that Jeff had heard — and wasn’t going to grant — any of them. One particularly loud-voiced requester, after the band had played “Love Is Everywhere (Beware),” shouted, “Good song!” To which Jeff replied, “Thank you. Now…shhh.” It definitely seemed like there were more Americans in Bergen than either Trondheim or Stavanger, which may or may not have had anything to do with it, or maybe it was just a Saturday night.

 

The irony was that Jeff himself was not especially chatty, even apologizing halfway through the set for not talking very much. “It’s just too much fun to play music for you guys,” he said. “You don’t wanna hear my gabbing.” Prior to that, about the only noteworthy thing he had said was a quick quip about how Ode To Joy was initially going to be called Open Kimono. “All records should be called Open Kimono,” Jeff said, reprising a bit from his recent solo touring.

 

In the encore Jeff finally opened up a bit. First he got into a little joking back-and-forth with Glenn when the latter attempted to start Random Name Generator before Jeff was finished introducing it. Glenn gave him a little smirk, and Jeff joked, “This is our last show. Actually, this is Glenn’s last show.” You probably had to be there. ;)

 

One song later, Jeff introduced OTJ closing track An Empty Corner with a version of the story he has been telling about his stint as a teenage liquor store manager when his boss left cocaine for his employees on a copy machine in the back office. Jeff joked that the lines of cocaine were so tiny that they “wouldn’t get a brine shrimp high or give a sea monkey a buzz, but we tried. So that’s where this song is coming from.” Then after the song, Jeff felt compelled to clarify why he had specifically mentioned brine shrimp. He encouraged the audience members to go home and Google the phenomenon of cocaine-addicted crustaceans and quipped that shrimp all over the world were testing positive for coke. “I never trusted those fuckers,” Jeff deadpanned.

 

Enough said for now, I think? :lol

 

Here was the complete setlist, as played (there were, once again, no changes from the printed list):

 

Bright Leaves

Before Us

I Am Trying To Break Your Heart

War On War

One and a Half Stars

If I Ever Was A Child

Handshake Drugs

Hummingbird

White Wooden Cross

Via Chicago

How To Fight Loneliness

Red-Eyed and Blue>

I Got You (At The End of the Century)

Bull Black Nova

Laminated Cat (aka Not For The Season)

Reservations

Love Is Everywhere (Beware)

Impossible Germany

Box Full Of Letters

Everyone Hides

Jesus, etc.

Theologians

I'm The Man Who Loves You

Hold Me Anyway

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

Random Name Generator

An Empty Corner

California Stars

Misunderstood

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Jeff played "One and a Half Stars" back in February (I'm not sure how to post youtube videos):

 

Yeah, I was there for that show. Knew the lyrics sounded familiar, so thanks for the reminder.

 

Jeff also took at least a fragment of lyrics from a work-in-progress that he randomly played once at a solo show in Spokane last year and seems to have incorporated them into An Empty Corner: “The silver black boot/That cracked my front tooth/Is a new kind of truth/I’m getting used to.” Just another random little thing that only the truly nerdy would care about, probably. B)

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Yeah, I was there for that show. Knew the lyrics sounded familiar, so thanks for the reminder.

 

Jeff also took at least a fragment of lyrics from a work-in-progress that he randomly played once at a solo show in Spokane last year and seems to have incorporated them into An Empty Corner: “The silver black boot/That cracked my front tooth/Is a new kind of truth/I’m getting used to.” Just another random little thing that only the truly nerdy would care about, probably. B)

I get it, man. I’m very much like that when I learn the songs on guitar. With An Empty Corner, at Solid Sound the capo was on the third fret, when it was Jeff and Nels, it was on the 4th fret, and now it is on the 2nd fret.

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