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Wilco — 22 September 2019, Paris, France (Le Trianon)


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The pluses: A very intimate, lovely sounding and looking venue (I was told the total capacity was just 1,000, with 600 standing on the floor and another 400 spread over two balconies, and it wasn't even sold out when doors opened); a relatively enthusiastic audience.

 

During the show I remembered that, in my past experience seeing the band there — I have some especially good memories of seeing the band next door at Le Trianon's sister venue Elysée Montmartre nearly 15 years ago — Paris can have some surprisingly energetic crowds. And this one was no exception, with a brief flurry of random comments/song requests/misheard heckles at one point causing Jeff to instruct the audience to "settle down." Jeff also briefly introduced Everyone Hides by saying, "We made a video for this (song), so shut up."

 

This was all very playful, I should add. There was seemingly genuine excitement by many of those right up front, with sporadic bursts of clapping, dancing or singing along by some I suspect might have been seeing the band live for the first time. It gave me some perspective on more than a couple of occasions just how powerful it must be to see the band perform some of its most popular songs like Impossible Germany, Handshake Drugs or Via Chicago when you haven't seen them very often, or at all. When you've been fortunate to see more than your fair share of shows, it's always a good idea to look around from time to time and try to remember why the band plays some of these songs every single night.

 

The minuses: An apparently strict 10:30 p.m. curfew which, when you included the full complement of the eight Ode To Joy songs that have been played live so far, meant the setlist was limited to pretty much the "standard" fare for this OTJ tour.

 

"We've already been playing for a pretty long time, but we still have some more songs left for you," Jeff told the audience about three-quarters of the way through the show. "Not a lot of songs." When someone in the crowd shouted, "Play all of your songs," Jeff shot back with a playful, but firm, "No. That would take way too long. No one has that kind of time."

 

The minutiae: This was one of the few shows on the tour with a large white screen backdrop that allowed the abstract art projections designed by the band's lighting director Jeremy to be properly viewed. They are sometimes subtle and don't currently appear on every song, but as I've said before, when they are used, they add a significant dimension to the look of the production, especially the ones that feature a 3-D element. It's clear they still are a work in progress — for instance, there was no image displayed during the encore break which had happened at a couple earlier gigs — but it's always nice to see them included.

 

Also related, sort of, to the look of the show was the fact that Jeff changed both his hat and his jacket for this show. After debuting a new Stetson the other night in Milan, he was back to the black knit Warm hat for this one. And he paired it with an olive green outer layer instead of the longer denim button-down coat he has worn at most shows over here this month.

 

Jeff didn't have much other noteworthy banter than that already described. He did introduce An Empty Corner with an abridged version of the story he has been telling about being a teenage liquor store manager whose boss left him lines of cocaine, which he dreamed about once and then craved some cocaine. He joked that he probably shouldn't introduce the song, to which Glenn gave him a look like, "You think?" Also of note, Jeff changed the "hello" in I Am Trying To Break Your Heart to "bonjour." For his part, Glenn gave a little extra bass drum salute to Nels when the audience gave him a prolonged round of applause following Impossible Germany, encouraging the applause a bit longer than usual (which I think slightly embarrasses Nels).

 

The opener: Ohmme once again seemed to generate a really positive response. I suppose a French audience always gives a little added benefit of the doubt to a foreign band that at least tries to speak a bit of the native tongue, and Sima Cunningham actually speaks French pretty well. Their half-hour set included more than half of the Parts record (Icon, Grandmother, Parts, Water and Peach) as well as their cover of David Bowie's Girl Loves Me. All this despite navigating the car-free day in Paris yesterday and arriving at the venue just a few hours before their set time.

 

The result: Pretty much the show Jeff and his bandmates seem to want to present right now, which certainly appeared to please the vast majority of those at Le Trianon (though someone who had seen multiple shows on this run might have been left wanting a bit more). If, on the other hand, you wanted to see a representative show for this tour thus far with as many new songs as possible, then mission accomplished. Since there's no way to really please everyone at this point, you basically can only play the songs you want to play — and for most folks, that was more than adequate.

 

Anyway, here was the complete setlist as played (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

If I Ever Was A Child

Handshake Drugs

Hummingbird

White Wooden Cross

Via Chicago

How To Fight Loneliness

Bull Black Nova

Random Name Generator

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

Misunderstood

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

An Empty Corner

California Stars

The Late Greats

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I'd like to see Apparel Avenue added to Banter Corner, where you also tell us what you have decided to kit yourself out in each night depending on weather, local custom, and dramatic impact - contrasting or complementing with what the band are up to. Perhaps that's better done on Instagram now that you're the Chauffeur to the Stars with a profile to maintain, but it would fit in nicely here methinks, with a thousand of your words being better than a picture. 

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I'd like to see Apparel Avenue added to Banter Corner, where you also tell us what you have decided to kit yourself out in each night depending on weather, local custom, and dramatic impact - contrasting or complementing with what the band are up to. Perhaps that's better done on Instagram now that you're the Chauffeur to the Stars with a profile to maintain, but it would fit in nicely here methinks, with a thousand of your words being better than a picture.

I’ll take it under advisement...B)

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There should also be a 'how far am I from the nearest Wagamama' section, a weather check and an up to date itinerary of how early you need to be at the airport the next morning.

Very funny! Maybe I should also include a spotlight feature on the six people who read these idiotic musings daily?

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Very funny! Maybe I should also include a spotlight feature on the six people who read these idiotic musings daily?

I’m ready for my closeup, Mr. DeMille.

 

By the way, thanks for the comments about observing audience reactions to the “predictable” songs in the setlist. It’s worth remembering that the vast majority of the audience is not following the band around night after night. But I for one am delighted that you do and provide us these recaps. They’re the first thing I look for in the morning when Wilco is on tour.

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I'd like to see Apparel Avenue added to Banter Corner, where you also tell us what you have decided to kit yourself out in each night depending on weather, local custom, and dramatic impact - contrasting or complementing with what the band are up to. Perhaps that's better done on Instagram now that you're the Chauffeur to the Stars with a profile to maintain, but it would fit in nicely here methinks, with a thousand of your words being better than a picture. 

Best. Suggestion. Ever. 

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