bböp Posted October 13, 2019 Share Posted October 13, 2019 Generally speaking, when it comes to Wilco shows, experience has taught me that ones taking place in truly iconic venues such as the Hollywood Bowl or the Sydney Opera House often don’t quite measure up to ones in less heralded locales. There are exceptions to this, of course — Red Rocks Amphitheatre comes to mind — and I’m not including rooms like the Fillmore or the Ryman Auditorium. For a variety of reasons, though, the legendary venues often seem to leave me a bit cold. Part of it probably has to do with expectations that few, if any, concerts could live up to. Then there’s the setup of those places, which usually feature reserved seating, attract a certain type of audience and whose size can limit the connection between performer and said audience that make for the best performances, IMHO. It’s not that shows in the legendary places are bad, by any means, but they can feel like recitals (at best) or slogs (at worst). Radio City Music Hall certainly falls into the category of iconic venues, and certainly some of the issues I’ve mentioned apply there. But I also have a soft spot for Radio City, in part because I used to live in New York but also because it was 15 years ago almost to the day that I saw Wilco play two shows there that felt like milestones for the band — and certainly this current lineup of the band. Like, somehow, that they had “made it” or something. So to see the band finally return to Radio City in support of a new record, I didn’t necessarily have hopes for a transcendent show, but it was still important to me to be there. And I’m glad I was. Was it the best Wilco show I’ve ever seen? Hardly. Was it an enjoyable set that more or less represented what the band wants to present right now? Certainly. There wasn’t much opportunity to visit Banter Corner, as Jeff noted early on when he said, “All right, here we are. It’s good to see you. We have a lot of songs to play and not much time to talk.” But when a man wielding a mop suddenly appeared out of nowhere in the front row during Via Chicago and started to clean up an apparent spill, catching Jeff’s attention in the process, he unwittingly helped create what may have been the night’s defining moment. Jeff didn’t mention the incident until about six songs later, but before Impossible Germany, he finally commented on “a first” for him: “I’ve never seen a mop during a show…and I couldn’t let it go uncommented upon,” he said. “Hats off to the mop guy, and boo to whoever spilled their beer. Was it the drum break in Via Chicago? Did it scare you?” Just before leaving the stage for the final time, Jeff also remarked, “What an incredible honor to get to play here for you, and I’ll never forget the mop.” About the only other banter from Jeff concerned support act Daughter of Swords (aka the solo project of Mountain Man’s Alexandra Sauser-Monnig), who captivated the big room with little more than her voice. Jeff quipped that he heard her warming up earlier in the day and “thought it was a fluke.” He added that the only reason he wasn’t talking about her more was his paranoia about pronouncing the word “swords.” Maybe you had to be there — or listen to the tape — to fully appreciate the way he said it. (Random trivia question: Who opened for Wilco when they played Radio City in 2004? A: The Fiery Furnaces.) From a crowd standpoint, at least a healthy portion of those on the orchestra level stood for some or most of the show. With as many OTJ songs the band is playing and people’s tendency to stand up or sit down based solely on the songs they know, it could have been annoying to constantly be getting up and sitting down but fortunately that didn’t happen, at least around me. Nor were there people getting shouted down for standing, which I’ve also seen happen at venues like that. And the sound, as usual, was on point at Radio City. I suppose it was, after all, a hall designed for music, but it was nice to hear Nels’ guitar, for instance, nice and clear on Impossible Germany and We Were Lucky (which once again played quite well in the live setting since being introduced earlier this week). That sound, combined with the projections on the screen behind the band and the various lighting effects, all helped to round out the overall stage look. From a Wilco nerd standpoint, Jeff switched out the guitar he has been using on many of the OTJ songs from the one I call Yankee Doodle Dandy (woodgrain, with patriotic decals) to a black one with an almost graffiti-like design (if I'm not mistaken). Not sure which one he used in Boston, but this was definitely different than the guitar he had used for those songs in Europe and Toronto. I suppose both had a similar ukulele-like effect, so it didn’t really cause that much overall difference in the sound, but I guess it’s worth noting in the interest of reportage. As I told a friend, if you were only going to see one show on this OTJ run, you could certainly have done worse. For me, just being back at Radio City was a cool thing…a little trip down Memory Lane for sure. Who could have said with much certainty back then that we’d regather here 15 years later to watch the same six band members play new music and with about as much, yes, joy as they did back then? That’s something worth celebrating… Here was the complete setlist, as played (didn’t see a printed setlist, so can’t say if there were any changes): Bright LeavesBefore UsI Am Trying To Break Your HeartWar On WarOne and a Half StarsIf I Ever Was A ChildHandshake DrugsAt Least That’s What You SaidHummingbirdWhite Wooden CrossVia ChicagoHow To Fight LonelinessBull Black NovaRandom Name GeneratorReservationsWe Were LuckyLove Is Everywhere (Beware)Impossible GermanyBox Full Of LettersEveryone HidesJesus, etc.TheologiansI’m The Man Who Loves YouHold Me AnywayMisunderstood----------------------------------California StarsThe Late Greats Quote Link to post Share on other sites
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