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Wilco — 19 December 2019, Chicago, IL (Chicago Theatre) [Winterlude Night 4 of 4]

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You know, I honestly had forgotten that this fourth and final show of Winterlude 2019 was being aired live on WXRT (and live-streamed via the Radio.com app) until Jeff mentioned it about two thirds of the way through Wilco’s set. "Oh yeah, we’re on the radio right now everybody," Jeff said as Nels was being handed the gaudy, double-neck white guitar he uses on Dawned On Me. "And (the radio audience) can’t see that thing, which is a good thing."

 

So I was trying to think of what else noteworthy I could describe that might have been lost on those listening in at home, and I came up with two of my personal favorite moments from an evening that had more than a few of them.

 

The first was just the look on Jeff’s face — or was it mine? — as he started clapping while Glenn rattled off that familiar beat at the start of Monday. And then when he stepped to the mike and started, “One, two…” I really think we might have locked eyes for a split second there. Not really, but that glorious count-in was finally back! If you don’t recall, the band was playing the song somewhat regularly in the fall of 2017 — just before the hiatus — but sans count-in, much to my dismay. It just didn’t feel right. So it was a genuine thrill to hear it again, as was the "son of a..." segue into Outtasite (Outta Mind). (I know Monday was performed as part of the karaoke set at Solid Sound this year, but I can’t remember if the singer of that one did the count-in and I’m not counting that anyway because that was its own thing.)

 

And the second moment was when Jeff momentarily halted his guitar riffing at the start of I’m The Man Who Loves You and went over to the drum set, where Glenn was hammering away at this little chime thing that was screwed onto one of his cymbal stands. Jeff shook his head as if to say, "That’s not gonna cut it tonight," and then actually unscrewed it and tossed it on the ground with mock disgust. At that point, Glenn understood that only standing up on his drum stool would suffice and he finally complied, which of course delighted the crowd.

 

It was probably also difficult to glean from the radio broadcast the bonhomie between the band and the special guests who joined them on stage during the encore. It really was an extended family affair. First, there was James Elkington who made an electric guitar cameo on California Stars. Then for the finale cover of Happy Xmas (War Is Over), an eight-piece choir emerged led by support act Sharon Van Etten and also including background singers Sima Cunningham and Macie Stewart of Ohmme, Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn of Sylvan Esso and Spencer Tweedy, Casey Gomez Walker and Liam Kazar.

 

In between those two songs in the encore came the surprise (and welcome) return of Spiders (Kidsmoke), which hadn’t been played live by the full band since the penultimate show before the hiatus. It wasn’t a perfect performance, but still was nice to hear again, even though it seemed like most of the crowd didn’t know — or had forgotten about — the "singing riff" part before the final breakdown.

 

Overall, I wouldn’t say that the audience was tremendous — at least around me. It was better than usual at the Chicago Theatre, but I can’t understand how so many people can just stand there completely stone still during songs like Spiders or Monday. I just decided I was going to go for it and rock out in my own little square foot of space, and I’m sure others did as well, but when I looked around, it didn’t seem like there were too many of us. To each their own, I guess, but I personally was glad to have broken a little sweat for once at that venue.

 

In one of the relatively few visits to Banter Corner Jeff paid over the course of the show, he said early on that "these are all the songs that we know how to play the best. Most of them we’ve been playing for a decade, or more." That’s not true of the songs off Ode To Joy, obviously, and it’s puzzling why they still haven’t gotten around to playing Quiet Amplifier as a band yet. Nor did they perform album closer An Empty Corner on any of the four nights of Winterlude (though they did play it at the Songkick popup). At this final Chicago show, even setlist staple White Wooden Cross got omitted.

 

And yet we once again got I Might, which I mentioned in a previous Winterlude recap, the band only started playing again fairly recently. Not that I was unhappy to hear it again. With Jeff back to an electric guitar and Pat stepping out front to complete the three-guitar attack, the Whole Love tune gave an early jolt of energy to the show.

 

"This is our last show of the decade," Jeff noted during his first comments of the night. "We’re gonna go out on a good note." And then, as he waved goodbye one final time, he said, "We’ll see you in the next decade. Take care of each other, show up for your neighbors…everything's gonna be fine."

 

While nothing is ever promised, the fact that Wilco is still together after all these years, still enjoying each other’s company, making interesting music as a group and looking toward the future, certainly gives me some degree of hopefulness. Even more than assessing and rating this specific group of shows, that continuity, I think, is a bigger picture worth remembering and admiring. So, with that said, onto the 2020s…

 

Here was the complete setlist, as played, for the fourth and final night of Winterlude 2019 (once again, there were no changes from the printed list):

 

Bright Leaves

Before Us

I Am Trying To Break Your Heart

War On War

Handshake Drugs

At Least That's What You Said

One and a Half Stars

I Might

Hummingbird

Via Chicago

Bull Black Nova

Random Name Generator

Reservations

Impossible Germany

Jesus, etc.

We Were Lucky

Love Is Everywhere (Beware)

Box Full Of Letters

Everyone Hides

Dawned On Me

Monday>

Outtasite (Outta Mind)

I'm The Man Who Loves You

Hold Me Anyway

Misunderstood

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

California Stars (w/James Elkington on electric guitar)

Spiders (Kidsmoke) (electric arrangement)

Happy Xmas (War Is Over) [John Lennon and Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band] (w/Sharon Van Etten on vocals, Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn of Sylvan Esso, Sima Cunningham and Macie Stewart of Ohmme, Casey Gomez Walker, Spencer Tweedy and Liam Kazar on backing vocals and percussion)

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Spiders is such a curveball for a final show in a pretty long run of shows. I think I fell asleep right before it was played. Oops!  :sleep

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Wow first Spiders of the tour, nice to see.

The webstream was unfortunately region locked to the US, so the rest of us non-Americans would still love to hear everyone's thoughts.

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Would have liked a little more variety in the set list last night, but pretty good when the two “new” songs are Monday and Spiders!

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Would have liked a little more variety in the set list last night, but pretty good when the two “new” songs are Monday and Spiders!

 

Couldn't agree more. Really thought there was going to be a shakeup in the set but alas, it was the same outside of these two great songs. 

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Wilco delivered. It was a fantastic show. 

 

My jaw dropped during Bull Black Nova. We Were Lucky was stellar. The surprise Spiders was intense and featured the South American guitar riff crowd participation. SVE opening.

 

Sort of speechless still. 

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Caught 2-3 portions of songs on the Radio.com webcast but gave up after the connection kept freezing, timing out and playing choppy. Very much a frustrating listening experience but hopefully it’ll turn up on the Roadcase or in the Nugs.net catalog.

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Some final Winterlude 2019 numbers...I could be off on some but I did my best to do this all via Excel.

 

48 different songs from the band catalog were performed over the four shows

 

18 songs were never repeated between nights:

  • Theologians
  • I'm Always in Love
  • Tomorrow Never Knows
  • I Am The Walrus
  • Company in my Back
  • If I Ever Was a Child
  • The Joke Explained
  • Laminated Cat
  • Passenger Side
  • Forget The Flowers
  • Heavy Metal Drummer
  • Red-Eyed and Blue
  • I Got You (At The End of the Century)
  • Kamera
  • How To Fight Loneliness
  • Radio Cure
  • Monday
  • Spiders (Kidsmoke)

NzizYyj.png

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Nice.

 

Compare the two Chicago Theatre Winterludes variety-wise:

 

2017: 106 songs performed with 49 unique songs.

2019: 114 songs performed with 48 unique songs.

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That’s interesting. I was thinking on the way home last night about how it seemed like 2017 had much more variety than 2019, didn’t think it would be that close!

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Wow first Spiders of the tour, nice to see.

The webstream was unfortunately region locked to the US, so the rest of us non-Americans would still love to hear everyone's thoughts.

I’m in transit till later today, but I won’t let this one slip away...

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Wilco delivered. It was a fantastic show. 

 

The surprise Spiders was intense and featured the South American guitar riff crowd participation. SVE opening.

 

Spiders! I came into town for the Sunday and Monday shows knowing I wasn't going to catch everything, but damn I would have liked to have heard Spiders. I was at that last one played in St. Paul. 

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Wow first Spiders of the tour, nice to see.

The webstream was unfortunately region locked to the US, so the rest of us non-Americans would still love to hear everyone's thoughts.

So frustrating that those region locks happen. If I had known that would be an issue, I would have pointed people towards a few good VPN services (either free ones or ones where a membership could be cancelled following listening to the broadcast, as to not get charged after a free trial).

 

I was in the balcony last night, row A so I had an unobstructed view of the band. I kind of discovered that for the Chicago Theater, it's a bit safer sometimes to grab balcony seats if you're not in the pit or double lettered main floor sections. 

 

They sounded outstanding, I thought. Hearing Monday was awesome, and Spiders was just insane. A lot of people are upset with the lack of variety of songs on the sets, which I understand; they have a deep catalog and it wouldn't hurt to add a few more songs into the mix...but one thing I realized is they really loved using visuals during the show (which I loved how they looked, going from Pollock-like paintings, to abstract art, to some hues fading into one another) that were used during specific songs. Maybe they wanted to ensure those got used within context to specific tracks, hence not mixing things up too much? Who knows. 

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I kind of discovered that for the Chicago Theater, it's a bit safer sometimes to grab balcony seats if you're not in the pit or double lettered main floor sections. 

 

If you are OK sitting for a rock show. 

 

I'm all for/understand wanting to sit during slow songs, but I hate how being in the balcony automatically means sitting at like 99% of shows and people get super bent out of shape when you stand up, unless it's the encore.

 

Hell, this even applied at Tool at the United Center last month.

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I’ve been a Wilco fan for about 15 years now, and I can’t recall when it became super important for us to analyze and critique setlist variety. I’m just grateful when I can catch a show regardless of what they play, because it’s a great rock show every time.

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When I go to shows I like to see setlist variety, plus its interesting to me to see the stats.  I've never understood why people care about what other people care about.

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Another fantastic show to end the run! Yes, more setlist variety would have been welcome, but getting "Monday" and "Spiders" was pretty special. I was the closest I've ever been for a Wilco show and wow, from up close you can really marvel at what Glenn does behind the kit. He is he hardest working man in the world back there. The complexity and subtlety he adds to every song is stunning. With some egging on -- that Glenn seemed to initiate himself! -- he stood on his chair to start ITMWLY, which is always fun.

 

"Bull Black Nova" was just sublime again, though I wish I caught "Laminated Cat" at least once. Jeff went back to the electric guitar for "I Might," which was another highlight. The "nothing" tally was in the 40s for "Misunderstood."

 

Oh, and SVE is awesome.

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For anyone who cares, which I imagine is down to about 10 people or so (especially during this holiday week), I finally got around to finishing my recap of the final night of Winterlude 2019. Anyway, it's now posted above. Happy holidays to y'all. :santa :santa :santa

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For anyone who cares, which I imagine is down to about 10 people or so (especially during this holiday week), I finally got around to finishing my recap of the final night of Winterlude 2019. Anyway, it's now posted above. Happy holidays to y'all. :santa :santa :santa

I, for one, care deeply. :-) Thanks for all the great recaps and happy holidays to you as well!

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I care and am grateful for the reports.  Thank you.  Happy Happy.  

+1.  Love the recaps.

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