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Wilco — 19 September 2019, Milan, Italy (Fabrique)

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It had been a little while since I'd been to Italy, or at least it felt that way, so I had sort of forgotten about what I think of in my mind as "the Italian way" of doing things. And Milan is probably as good a microcosm of Italy as anywhere else. So reflecting on the Milan show, at least in my opinion, I think it's best to remember that all the elements that make Italy what it is were present — beauty, passion, disorganization, charm, rudeness and more.


Oh, and copyright infringement. (No, seriously, Italy seems to be the only place where Wilco is apparently a big enough band to make it worthwhile for people to hawk racks of bootleg T-shirts outside the venue and even offer cheap digital prints of a show poster for 1 euro apiece! I'm always amused, I admit, even though it probably hurts the band's merch sales somewhat.)


Anyway, I needed that amusement because my experience of attending the show itself was plenty frustrating. First of all, the show time listed on my ticket was 21:30 but I alternately heard that it might be 20:30 or 19:30. Forget about getting an accurate time for the doors opening. (It turned out that opening act Ohmme went on at 19:30.) I've been to plenty of GA Wilco shows and I can count on one hand the number I've attended where the doors have opened before I've arrived. But that was the case here, partly because of a bus that completely deviated from its route without explanation, so that was already annoying. Despite that, I still managed to stake out a decent spot in the second row only to have a random group of Italians, including a Robyn Hitchcock doppelganger, barge in front of me before Wilco went on and basically displace me. Of course, they seemed completely oblivious to having done so.


Once the show started, to their credit, many of the audience members seemed to bring genuine enthusiasm, especially on the songs they knew well like those from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. I would venture to say that Wilco could simply come to Italy periodically and play YHF in its entirety for the next 15 years and no one would really complain much. "Weel-co, weel-co, weel-co," they chanted to urge the band to return for an encore. Especially when contrasted with the rest of the relatively reserved crowds on this tour thus far, and perhaps only comparable to the Brazilians or the Spanish worldwide, the Italians certainly made themselves known — even if Jeff noted how quiet they were between songs.


Jeff, for his part, didn't say much either until toward the end of the main set and then only to let the audience know that things were winding down. "We're getting close to the time we have to say goodbye," Jeff said after Dawned On Me. The crowd, naturally, protested and one woman yelled out, "How close?" Jeff smiled and teased, "That's for us to know and for you to find out." Then he looked over at the clock to his right and said, "About 30 minutes. No (actually), 13."


For whatever reason, Jeff seemed to be slighly distracted (perhaps it was his new Stetson-like hat, which he doffed to Nels as the audience was saluting him following Impossible Germany). He had a couple of lyric flubs, including repeating the "...They're not worth reading" line twice in Laminated Cat (instead of "It's not for the season" the first time through) and another in the first verse of The Late Greats. And he had some minor guitar tuning issues on I'm The Man Who Loves You.


So uitimately, I suppose that this was a performance that was just about right for Milan (Jeff had earlier joked about Wilco being in town for Milan Fashion Week, which was clearly dominating the city's cultural and nightlife this week). There was beauty and charm evident throughout, but some warts were visible as well over the course of the 2 hours, 17 minutes Wilco spent on stage. I guess you could say that about virtually every show, but maybe none matched its setting quite so well.


Here was the complete setlist, as played (An Empty Corner and I'm A Wheel were listed as the first and last songs of the encore, respectively, on the printed setlist, but alas neither were played):


Bright Leaves

Before Us

I Am Trying To Break Your Heart

War On War

If I Ever Was A Child

Handshake Drugs

One and a Half Stars

Forget The Flowers


White Wooden Cross

Via Chicago

How To Fight Loneliness

Bull Black Nova

Laminated Cat (aka Not For The Season)

Random Name Generator


Love Is Everywhere (Beware)

Impossible Germany

California Stars

Box Full Of Letters

Everyone Hides

Jesus, etc.

Dawned On Me

Hold Me Anyway

Heavy Metal Drummer

I'm The Man Who Loves You




The Late Greats

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You should have got the bootleggers to run you off 100 T Shirts with a cameo of your video appearance.  Would have sold faster than freshly harvested tagliatelli from the pasta trees.


I think you've probably had too much birra... :beer

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