bböp Posted December 17, 2019 Share Posted December 17, 2019 Look, I get why Wilco has chosen to play the Chicago Theatre for the last couple editions of its hometown Winterlude residency. It’s an iconic venue in the heart of the city, more or less the right size and has a good-sounding PA system. But honestly, does any room in town consistently draw a lamer or more clueless audience? As evidence, consider some of the things people did and said on the second night of Winterlude 2019: *Someone in the front row repeatedly took selfies with their back to the stage, much to Jeff’s consternation. “Are you done taking selfies?” he asked the person prior to starting White Wooden Cross. “I feel like I’m at an apehouse and I’m the ape and I’m about to fling my feces. I don’t know why I find it irksome, but I find it irksome. I realize it’s probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take pictures with an ape…but let’s get back to our regularly programmed sadness.” *A wiseguy apparently requested “Freebird” during a break between songs. “According to the Geneva Convention, if someone yells ‘Freebird,’ we’re allowed to stop the show right there,” Jeff quipped. “No refunds.” 1) People still do this? 2) WTF? *A guy near me shouted for the band to play Kingpin after Jeff once again invited support act and “one of our heroes” Robyn Hitchcock to return to the stage during the encore. Uhhh yeah, they brought Robyn Hitchcock back to sing...Kingpin. #whatadope *Two men behind me in the merch line discussed Hitchcock and his connection to R.E.M. (in part through having recorded and toured with the likes of Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey.) “Remember R.E.M.?” one said to the other. “They were pretty big once.” *A woman next to me to her friend, in a disappointing tone, after Hitchcock fronted Wilco on unique show-closing covers of I Am The Walrus and I Wanna Destroy You: “But they didn’t play California Stars.” I could go on, and I haven’t even mentioned the steady chatter I could hear around me (and others told me they heard around them), but you hopefully get the picture. And when people were paying attention, many of them didn’t seem like they were particularly into the show either. For instance, surveying the relatively sedate crowd in front of me during songs like Laminated Cat or I Got You (At The End of the Century), I personally longed for the days of the residencies at the Riviera or Vic Theatres when you walked out tired and sweaty and feeling the exhilaration that comes after a great rock show. I can’t honestly say I felt that tonight, which I’m sort of sad to say. Not that I didn’t enjoy the concert, not that Wilco didn’t put on a good show and not that there weren’t more than a few highlights. One came when the band returned for the encore with a new drummer in tow — namely, Spencer Tweedy. Jeff informed the crowd that Spencer was celebrating his 24th birthday and that 11 years earlier, when he turned 13, Spencer had sat in on this same song (The Late Greats) at Madison Square Garden when Wilco was opening for Neil Young. “This is pretty cool, too,” Jeff said on Spencer’s behalf, and led the crowd in singing happy birthday to his elder son before they started the tune. (Afterward, Glenn returned to the stage and gave Spencer a big hug as they crossed paths behind the drum kit. As Glenn resumed his regular position, Jeff quipped, “This is Glenn’s 25th birthday.”) And of course, we got yet another surprise — and highlight — when Hitchcock (in a fresh magenta shirt) returned to the stage. After a momentary hiccup at the start, he and the band quickly got in sync and took a run at another Beatles psychedelic classic, I Am The Walrus. If I’m not mistaken, it’s the first time Wilco has played it. (Coincidentally, I had seen Hitchcock close a show with Walrus 10 days ago with his current band, the Nashville Fabs, in which Pat plays bass.) Then Wilcock/Hitchco closed the show, as they did on Night 1, with a performance of Hitchcock’s own I Wanna Destroy You. “Thanks for having me, chaps,” Hitchcock said before the final number. “It’s been a groove.” By my count, eight of the 25 songs in the main set (and 11 of 30 overall) were different than Night 1, which isn’t bad when you consider that at least seven or eight OTJ songs are going to be repeated each night and at least another seven or eight of the “greatest hits” (Impossible Germany, Via Chicago, Jesus, etc.) as well. It seems to me that Jeff basically took the same approach to these shows’ setlists as he did to last month’s three-night run in St. Paul, Minn. So you can probably expect songs like How To Fight Loneliness, Dawned On Me, An Empty Corner, Kamera, One Wing and I'm A Wheel, among others, to make an appearance at some point over the final two shows. From a banter standpoint, Jeff tried to make a joke early on about this being “the 24-hour anniversary of our last performance,” which he has done since the much-ballyhooed 25th anniversary of Wilco’s first-ever live show last month. But in this case, he had to self-correct when he realized that statement wasn’t even true because the band had played a small pop-up show earlier in the day. Anyway, I’m probably missing some details so hopefully others will fill in the blanks. I definitely agree with those who have said that the OTJ material comes off better live, generally speaking, so if this Winterlude gives local folks a chance to hear (and warm up to) that stuff, then I suppose it’s more or less mission accomplished as far as the band is concerned. Maybe that’s the sign of “a mature band,” as one friend described Wilco after tonight’s show. But whether it’s just the natural progression of things or if the venue — and the type of people it generally seems to attract — has something to do with it, I have to admit that at least a small part of me pined for something a little more immature. Here was the complete setlist, as played, for Night 2 of Winterlude 2019 (there were no changes from the printed list): Bright LeavesBefore UsCompany In My BackWar On WarIf I Ever Was A ChildHandshake DrugsAt Least That's What You SaidOne and a Half StarsThe Joke ExplainedHummingbirdWhite Wooden CrossVia ChicagoLaminated Cat (aka Not For The Season)Random Name GeneratorPassenger SideLove Is Everywhere (Beware)Impossible GermanyForget The FlowersBox Full Of LettersEveryone HidesJesus, etc.Heavy Metal DrummerI'm The Man Who Loves YouHold Me AnywayMisunderstood---------------------------------—happy birthday sung to Spencer Tweedy—The Late Greats (w/Spencer Tweedy on drums)Red-Eyed and Blue>I Got You (At The End of the Century)I Am The Walrus [The Beatles] (w/Robyn Hitchcock on vocals)I Wanna Destroy You [The Soft Boys] (w/Robyn Hitchcock on vocals) Quote Link to post Share on other sites
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