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Wilco — 15 September 2019, Warsaw, Poland (Progresja)

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Well, Wilco went to Warsaw (or Warszawa, for my Chicago Polish cousins) for the first time, and while it could have been just a "professional" show and no one would have complained — after all, it was the band's fourth show in four nights — Jeff and Co. of course delivered an enjoyable and energetic, 29-song performance that left just about everyone wanting more.


From the outside, the Progresja — or Progresja Music Zone, as I think its official name might be — doesn't seem like a particularly promising venue. It is located in a big hulking building that also houses, among other things, a radiology office and a tile store, and is in an off-the-beaten-path section of town next to a vacated shopping mall complex and a straight-out-of-the-Soviet-era high-rise residential(?) building. As is characteristic of Warsaw, there is also a nice park nearby with a couple of cemeteries and a memorial to World War II casualties.


Since this was Wilco's Warsaw debut, and just its second performance overall in Poland, one question was just how many people the band would be playing to on this Sunday night. The Progresja main hall's capacity is listed at 1,800, but I would be surprised if there were more than 800 who turned out for the Wilco show. But those 800 were definitely among the most enthusiastic crowds of the tour so far, with one group at stage right drawing Jeff's attention a couple of times. I'm not exactly sure what they were doing or saying, but at one point between Dawned On Me and Jesus, etc., Jeff pointed them out to the rest of the audience, saying, "More like that. Someone is showing you the way. All right, here's a mid-tempo ballad." :lol


Earlier, Jeff also gave a brief shoutout to a young couple we spoke to briefly outside the venue who had been hanging around for a few hours trying to get a vinyl copy of Star Wars signed by the whole band. As they prepared to play Random Name Generator, Jeff said, "One of you brought a record — we signed one record today — and it was the one that has this next song on it. Sorry we're only gonna play one song from that record, but I think it's a very underappreciated one (in our catalog). It's probably the best record ever...other than the record we have coming out on October 4th." :flirt


Regarding Wilco records, Jeff has consistently introduced Box Full Of Letters on this tour as being a song from their first record with a sort of self-deprecating tone suggesting that people somehow wouldn't be familiar with it. In Warsaw, he remarked that "this song is on the only record I would have been more surprised to have signed today." But a woman near the front quickly yelled out, "Mermaid Avenue?" and sort of stopped Jeff in his tracks when he had to concede that she had a good point. (Incidentally, a rare second A.M. song on this OTJ setlist came in the encore with Passenger Side, which Jeff said the band hadn't played in a while but had gotten a lot of requests for this show. He said, "I hope we remember it." Spoiler alert: They did.)


After Passenger came California Stars and after Jeff watched Pat's banjo solo once again get the biggest reaction, he paid one more visit to Banter Corner. "I had a thought..." Jeff started, and proceeded to try and make a case for what he dubbed "Banjo 2020." "The banjo can bring the world together," Jeff said. "There isn't a place we've played that that banjo part doesn't get a huge response every night. The thing is, it's super simple and I could teach it to all of you right now." :guitar


Much to the audience's chagrin, a banjo clinic didn't break out at that point. But at a show that, as I suggested earlier, could easily have been treated as something of an afterthought by the band, instead it gave us one of the longest encores of the tour thus far and a fittingly rocking finale.


It was also a relatively rare show without I'm The Man Who Loves You — aka the most-played song in the Wilco catalog — which you can probably count on two hands (and maybe two feet) the number of times that's happened over the last 15 years. Who knows why that happened in Warsaw of all places, but as with many quirks like that over the years, I've found it best to take note but not ask too many questions. Just realize that every time you get a chance to see these fellows make music together, especially in a new or different setting, is a small blessing that shouldn't be taken for granted. And I, for one, don't... :thumbup 

Anyway, I realize that no one is probably going to read this far, since I've slacked pretty hard on posting a recap, but here was the complete setlist, as played, in Warsaw (there were no changes from the printed setlist):

Bright Leaves
Before Us
I Am Trying To Break Your Heart
War On War
One and a Half Stars
Handshake Drugs
If I Ever Was A Child
White Wooden Cross
Via Chicago
How To Fight Loneliness
Bull Black Nova
Random Name Generator
Love Is Everywhere (Beware)
Impossible Germany
Box Full Of Letters
Everyone Hides
Dawned On Me
Jesus, etc.
Hold Me Anyway
Passenger Side
California Stars
The Late Greats
Heavy Metal Drummer
Red-Eyed and Blue>
I Got You (At The End of the Century)

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Forgot to mention that this show was bittersweet in one sense, because it was the last one on the run for Spiral Stairs and his guitarist Tim Regan as the support act. I had seen them at so many shows and also incidentally on the road, especially in Norway, that they started to feel like old friends. I really enjoyed their set each night and I encourage people to go check them out, especially anyone in Europe this month because after the tour with Wilco, they were meeting up with their rhythm section and touring as a full band for a couple weeks. That should be a fun show.


What was cool about these duo shows was that they basically could play what they wanted. They pretty much stuck with songs from the last two Spiral Stairs records, We Want To Be Hyp-No-Tized and Doris and the Daggers, but they would change it up from time to time. As in Warsaw, where they threw in Pavement's Kennel District and a ramshackle cover of Nick Lowe's Truth Drug... :rock

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RE: I’m The Man Who Loves You - Is Jeff coming in early on the song on this tour? It sounds like they’ve cut a bit out of the intro to get right to the opening line.


Possibly. I think especially when they try to do the HMD>I'm The Man segue, they're switching guitars in the outro to HMD and then trying to get the timing just right to go into Man. I don't know if that's what you're referring to. Also kinda funny you brought it up in this thread since this is the one show they didn't play it. Haha.

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