bböp Posted October 9, 2019 Share Posted October 9, 2019 After a solid month of touring abroad and an all-too-short week off, Wilco finally brought Ode To Joy to this side of the Atlantic for its first performance since the album's official release last Friday. It came on a chilly night on the shores of Lake Ontario — not quite America yet; that will have to wait until tomorrow night in Boston — at the rather uncreatively named Budweiser Stage (née Molson Amphitheatre). Truth be told, I'm not exactly sure why the band was booked into this large outdoor shed on a Tuesday night considering most of the other theater-type venues it is playing on this tour. But with Toronto's venerable Massey Hall temporarily closed for renovation — the band played two nights there as recently as 2017 — I guess the promoters/booking agents figured let's get a slightly more established support act (Lord Huron, which got an hour set that is twice as long as what most of Wilco's openers typically get) and take a shot. I'm not sure exactly how many of the 5,500 seats under the roof they sold, but the show was far from sold out. Anyway, just walking into the place with all of its corporate tie-ins, ridiculously priced concessions and cavernous feel, I didn't have the highest hopes for the show. But thanks to some stellar work by the Wilcrew, especially in terms of the sound and lighting/set design, it turned out about as enjoyably as it probably could have. And despite an apparently strict 11 p.m. curfew, the band did its part as well by debuting another OTJ song, We Were Lucky, as part of a solid overall performance. That song, which Jeff has said in some interviews that he wrote primarily as a vehicle for Nels to "shred," was obviously a highlight from my perspective. Nels certainly does get some room to do his thing, in a different way than he does on, say, Impossible Germany, but maybe that will appease some of the folks who have said OTJ is too quiet or the rest of the band too restrained. I'm eager to hear it again. And hopefully I'll be a bit closer next time so I can watch Glenn finally use the so-called "marching machine" that has been sitting on a spare snare drum until now waiting to be deployed. From where I was sitting, maybe 20 rows back, it could be a little tough to see what Glenn was doing a lot of the time (even though I pretty much knew). But I did wonder why Glenn didn't have the bass drum head with the swirl design that he had in Europe. I couldn't tell if it had been replaced by one displaying the OTJ cover art, which can appear washed out from as far back as I was, but I'm sure there is some good reason for the change. Why was I not closer to the stage than usual? To be honest, I hadn't initially planned on coming to this show but the planets aligned and I was able to make it, just not in the first tier of seats. It turned out to be kind of a blessing in disguise, though, because I was able to take in and appreciate the full range of the sound mix and the stage design. The band had the white screen behind them for the abstract projections they had only sporadically been able to use in Europe and those combined with all of the lighting elements made for some interesting visuals that are subtle at the beginning but really add to the production by the end. And as usual, Stan showed why he's one of the best front-of-house engineers in the business to make that place sound relatively good. The curfew was a bit of a bummer, though, because it definitely cost us at least two songs. (Maybe three, because I swear I saw Nels' stool and lap steel being prepared for Jesus, etc., but that song apparently was never on the printed setlist. I'm OK with that, actually. ) Jeff acknowledged the time crunch — as well as his adopted religion — in one of his only visits to Banter Corner, saying, "We don't have a lot of time, so I'm gonna keep the chit chat to a minimum. I would like to say 'Good Yuntif,' to all the Jews who aren't at services (for Yom Kippur)." He also joked that they should let those who were at services know that "this is the last time we're gonna let the goys make the touring schedule." About the only other noteworthy comments Jeff made, except to thank the audience for coming and that he and his bandmates "always have a great time here" (it's unclear if he was referring to the city or the venue itself, which was also the site of the Toronto stop on the AmericanaramA tour), was to introduce Everyone Hides. "This is a song we made a video for," Jeff said. "There aren't many. There will be few more, so thanks for watching." It might have taken a little while for Jeff to warm up and it must be at least a little bit challenging to connect with an audience — which, at least around me, remained seated throughout — in a big venue like that. But by the end of the main set, I'll be damned if Jeff didn't have a little bit of spring in his step. I could definitely be mistaken, but did I even detect a little Rockettes-style leg lifting during one of the guitar solos in Hold Me Anyway? Maybe he was limbering up and getting it ready for Radio City Music Hall this weekend. Ode To Joy, indeed... Here was the complete setlist, as played (An Empty Corner and Theologians were both listed on the printed setlist as part of the encore but both were cut, almost certainly for time): Bright LeavesBefore UsI Am Trying To Break Your HeartWar On WarOne and a Half StarsIf I Ever Was A ChildHandshake DrugsHummingbirdWhite Wooden CrossVia ChicagoHow To Fight LonelinessBull Black NovaRandom Name GeneratorReservationsWe Were Lucky (live debut)Love Is Everywhere (Beware)Impossible GermanyBox Full Of LettersEveryone HidesHeavy Metal DrummerI'm The Man Who Loves YouHold Me AnywayMisunderstood----------------------------------California StarsThe Late Greats Quote Link to post Share on other sites
Join the conversation
You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.