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Wilco — 12 November 2019, Indianapolis, IN (Old National Centre [Murat Theatre])

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Sometimes the stars just align, Californian and otherwise, when it comes to a Wilco show. On a personal level, I was happily able to upgrade a mediocre seat in the back half of the room to a third-row center seat when a ticket magically became available just hours before the show. And on a general level, for a Tuesday night show in a reserved-seat auditorium, things went pretty much as you would hope and expect they would.


That is to say that if you could script a show on this Ode To Joy tour that you would want your parents to see or if you were introducing a friend to Wilco, you might consider this one at the Murat Theatre. If my math is correct, this the fifth show the band has played in the Murat — the largest of three rooms inside the sprawling Old National Centre complex — and it’s a space in which I think both performer and audience are comfortable with what to expect. It holds about 2,600 total, including a two-row pit section on the floor and a relatively spacious balcony, and just about everyone on the lower level stood up from the start.


It occurred to me that when it comes to reserved-seat theater shows, this must be why Jeff and his bandmates can get a bit miffed when some crowds immediately spring to their feet and largely stay that way for the duration and others don’t. Thankfully, this time, it was a perfect showing by the Indy faithful. :thumbup


In terms of Banter Corner, Jeff didn’t really have many extended visits at all. I suppose that is part of the fine line between a crowd that is too respectful and too rowdy. Ideally, I think, you want a bit of both because especially with the latter, it can give Jeff a foil (or foils) to go off on some amusing tangents/takedowns. But if I had to guess, he would probably prefer too respectful to too rowdy.


Before White Wooden Cross, Jeff checked in with the audience to set up the somber tone of the song to come. “Is everyone having a good time?” Jeff asked. “Really? Well, then it seems like a perfect time for us to play a song about roadside memorials to people who got killed. Yay! Sing along, won’t you?” And later, after Love Is Everywhere (Beware), he joked that “we might have completed the gauntlet of dirges and sad songs. Y’all are in the home stretch. It’s an endurance test for everyone.”


Another bit of Jeffiness came during the fake encore routine prior to Hold Me Anyway, which of course drew one of the loudest rounds of applause of the evening. Jeff quipped that the huge ovation was “the real reason we started to do that was so we could bask in it. (Hearing the cheers) while we’re over there off stage, what’s the point?” Jeff likened it to faking your own death “so you could hear all the nice things people said about you.” :lol


One other noteworthy bit of chatter came after Impossible Germany when Nels’ stool was brought out for the ensuing Jesus, etc. “Why don’t you have a seat, Nels?” Jeff joked, while also singling him out for his nightly ovation. What was interesting about this version of Impossible Germany that I can’t remember ever seeing before was Nels quickly switching guitars — I think it might have been to his 60s Crown with the Norton Wisdom custom paint job, but I can’t be sure — at the very end of the song for some reason. [Edit: Apparently Nels broke not one, but two, strings.] Clearly there was something Nels was going for, which Jeff pointed out that he came close to achieving. “Just about,” Nels told Jeff during their brief on-stage chat. Jeff teased him, saying, “I think you should play (the whole solo) again just for that last part.”


Impossible Germany was, as always, one musical highlight. We also once again got what our friend theashtraysays has dubbed NovaCat — the back-to-back performances of Bull Black Nova and Laminated Cat — that have been a highlight of recent shows. Once again Laminated Cat was brought to a frenzied level before slowly fading out (instead of ending on a big final chord, as usual) and then leading up to another peak with the start of the subsequent Random Name Generator. It was also nice to hear Side With The Seeds again, and We Were Lucky was also a high point even after Glenn’s so-called “marching machine” that is a big part of the percussion on that song came loose and had to quickly be reset by drum tech Ashwin mid-song.


By the time the one real encore came, Wilco had already been on stage for well over two hours. But in another sign that this show went about as well as could be hoped, there was no sign of the band seeming overly rushed. Instead, Jeff and his bandmates finished off the evening with a short but sweet sendoff of California Stars and The Late Greats with Jeff thanking support act Deep Sea Diver — who played their penultimate show of a weeklong run with the band. “You’ve been a great audience,” Jeff said with a wave. “See you next time.” Sounds like the kind of thing you might say to an old friend and/or neighbor after a good visit... :wave


Here was the complete setlist, as played (there were no changes from the printed list):


Bright Leaves

Before Us

I Am Trying To Break Your Heart

War On War

If I Ever Was A Child

Handshake Drugs

Side With The Seeds

One and a Half Stars


White Wooden Cross

Via Chicago

Bull Black Nova

Laminated Cat (aka Not For The Season)

Random Name Generator


Impossible Germany

Jesus, etc.

We Were Lucky

Love Is Everywhere (Beware)

Forget The Flowers

Box Full Of Letters

Everyone Hides


I'm The Man Who Loves You

Hold Me Anyway



California Stars

The Late Greats

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Nice recap bböp.  This was our first Wilco show in 17 months and a great reminder of how much we missed them.  I really enjoyed the tweaks and added parts on some of the classic songs and the distinct and gentle video enhancements.  The show seemed to go just as Jeff planned with very few, if any, mistakes.  The sound was very good from our spot in the 11th row.  I was very happy to see/hear them indoors after our last few outdoor shows where the sound was very good, but loses some the oomph (IMO).  I was very happy to have a crowd with enough energy on a Tuesday night to stand and yet be respectful enough to enjoy the quiet moments without much distraction.  

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Hey bbop thanks for the recap!


Myself, my wife, my brother and my sister were there last night.  Good god Wilco puts on a fantastic show!  I liked the mix of the Ode to Joy songs with the older staples. 

We were on the floor a little less than halfway back and in front of Jeff.  The sound was great although there were a couple of times it seemed that Nels’ sound was too strong, but I didn’t notice it the whole night and it didn’t take away from the show.  Maybe it was just me.


This was my 10th Wilco show.  I hadn’t seen them perform Reservations before.  That’s the one song that keeps going through my head today.  So beautiful, I don’t know what else to say.


But last night, the song that really blew me away was Bull Black Nova.  I’ve seen them do that song before and have always liked it, but it seems like they’ve changed it some this tour.  Near the end, the song starts to fade out only to have the whole band explode when Jeff sings the last lines.  I can’t remember if it’s at the “Pick up!” part or before that.  Anyway, they about knocked me over.  Amazing; I know I was pie-eyed for some minutes after that.  Wow!!

Am I making this up or are they doing it a little different (your queue BBN Expert Vince…!)


As far as I could see, everyone stood from the moment they came on stage through the entire show.  I was happy about that.  Way to go Indy!  (full disclosure, my wife and sister both sat when the boys left the stage for the encore and didn’t stand for the last songs.  They said their feet hurt or they were tired or some other lame excuse).


Oh, also I should mention:  My brother is maybe a casual Wilco fan….I’m not sure what that means except he doesn’t keep up with the band and certainly isn’t on here, Via Chicago.  So I was a bit surprised when, on the ride home and not prompted at all by me, he mentioned that Pat looked bored or not happy or not really into the show at all.  I know that’s been mentioned on here a few times.  Hopefully it doesn’t mean anything.  I’m just bringing it up because my brother noticed.


The only bad thing about seeing a Wilco show is the post-show depression that sets in the next day.  When will you be back!!!????


Thank you Wilco! 

And I should also mention that Deep Sea Diver was great.  Very happy that we were able to catch most of their set.  At the end, the singer said something about they are coming back in February.  I checked their tour schedule today and no Indy (or close) shows listed, so not sure what’s up with that.  But I’ll definitely keep an eye out.

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