bböp Posted September 19, 2019 Share Posted September 19, 2019 Well, as awkward as this might be to write from a personal standpoint, I’m going to try to keep myself out of it as much as possible and stick to the facts (and, OK, maybe a tiny little bit of opinion). On the surface, tonight’s show in Zurich set up as a kind of pivot point — or fresh start, if you will — for this opening leg of the Ode To Joy tour. First, Wilco was hitting the stage again after a rare two-day break likely necessitated by a long bus journey from Warsaw. Jeff looked somewhat freshly shaven and perhaps had even had a little hair trim (or maybe it was just hiding under his Stetson). Drum tech Ashwin was back where he belonged after missing a few shows to attend to a personal matter. And new support act Ohmme, which will open the remainder of this month’s European OTJ dates, had arrived fresh off a recent stint supporting Glen Hansard on his U.S. tour. (Ohmme, by the way, set a blistering tone with their half-hour set despite Sima Cunningham having some guitar issues. As a Chicagoan, I’ve been fortunate to see Sima and Macie Stewart and regular drummer Matt Carroll play a fair bit but if you had to distill their best attributes into 30 minutes, they just about accomplished that tonight with a set that included Icon off their most recent album Parts as well as their fab cover of Give Me Back My Man by the B-52s.) Meanwhile, Wilco was pretty businesslike at the outset with Jeff probably well aware of the venue’s tight 10:30 p.m. curfew. The intimate Volkshaus, after all, was hosting the band for the fifth time in the past 15 years. So, for the first two-thirds of the show, Jeff pretty much said nothing at all except an occasional thank you, an acknowledgement of a random shout from the crowd or to introduce an OTJ song as being from an album that wasn’t quite out yet. Incidentally, the thought occurred to me regarding OTJ that it’s a shame that the majority of folks who were hearing some of those songs for the first time tonight might not get to see them performed live again for some time, or ever. I know it takes me at least a few listens to get a good feel for a new song and some definitely click with me faster than others. So I felt sympathetic that some might only get this chance to hear a song like Hold Me Anyway, with its well-crafted lyrics and unique percussion — Glenn, who was sporting one red Swiss flag wristband, continues to be amazing to watch in particular on the OTJ tunes — because it would be cool if others were able to appreciate it as much as I am in the moment rather than just trying to get an initial grasp. Anyway, back to the stuff people care about. As I said, Banter Corner wasn’t particularly active tonight, but Jeff did take a moment before Box Full Of Letters to express his gratitude for getting to play in Zurich once again. “We feel so lucky to be here; thanks for having us,” he said. “We got to spend the last few days here, and it’s a pretty nice place. I’d stay here if I were you. We have to leave…” When the crowd expressed some discontent at that thought, Jeff continued, looking over at the clock to his right, “We’re not leaving right now. Maybe in about an hour or two…” A little later, Jeff pointed over to the white, double-neck guitar that Nels had strapped on for Dawned On Me and said, “Look at that thing.” After the song, he quipped that “Prince gave that guitar to Nels.” When Nels shook his head, Jeff replied, “There isn’t anyone who wouldn’t believe that.” Oh, and I guess there was that bit of banter that involved yours truly. (I reserve the right to bury the lead, as it were, since I’m the correspondent!) It happened, of course, as the band prepared to play Everyone Hides. Since I make the tiniest of cameos in the video for that song, which had just been released the day before, I figured Jeff might say a little something. But before he did that, he stepped forward in front of his mike, leaned down and asked if I would “be mad” if he “outed” me for appearing in the video. Of course I wasn’t, just slightly caught off guard that he would even ask that way. So he proceeded to tell the audience that the band had just put out its first music video in 20 years (first with live action) and that “the star” of the video was here in the front row. He made a little joke about how I could be seen in the video twice and that “you see a Wilco video, you see Paul about once or twice…you go to any Wilco show, you see Paul about once or twice.” Haha, very funny! I guess my hiding spot isn’t the greatest… But that wasn’t the end. Instead Jeff prolonged the bit by saying something to about how I had been offered a position “within the organization” — there was also something about a 50-50 cut or something, but you’ll have to go to the tape for that one — but had declined in order “to remain a fan.” I’m sure I’m not recounting this 100 percent accurately, but blush city had probably set in by this point and I certainly wasn’t taking notes. So enough about that. I’m always glad to help out as banter fodder, which usually happens once every few years, but I’d rather just lay low and enjoy the show with everyone else. And that includes the band members themselves, which is easier to see when you’re closer to the stage. I’ve enjoyed, for instance, how the riff ending to Theologians has kind of taken on a life of its own on this tour between Jeff and Glenn. And how Mikael and Pat often exchange funny looks and grins across the stage during California Stars, especially when Pat has to lean down further and further each night, it seems, to reach his mike for the backing vocals on that song. I’m sure that being a professional touring musician (or supporting one, for that matter) comes with its own set of challenges that aren’t immediately apparent to those on the outside, but it’s nice to see when everyone can still have a sense of humor about it once in a while. I suppose it’s the only way to keep doing it — or at least have fun doing it — anyway. So until I get a little more time to put finger to keyboard, here was the aforementioned complete setlist as played (I glimpsed the printed list and there were no apparent changes/omissions): Bright LeavesBefore UsCompany In My BackWar On WarOne and a Half StarsIf I Ever Was A ChildHandshake DrugsHummingbirdAt Least That's What You SaidWhite Wooden CrossVia ChicagoHow To Fight LonelinessBull Black NovaRandom Name GeneratorReservationsImpossible GermanyLove Is Everywhere (Beware)Box Full Of LettersEveryone HidesDawned On MeJesus, etc.TheologiansI'm The Man Who Loves You---------------------------------MisunderstoodHold Me AnywayCalifornia StarsThe Late Greats Quote Link to post Share on other sites
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