bböp Posted August 6, 2021 Share Posted August 6, 2021 Overheard on the way into the first show of Wilco’s much-anticipated, long-delayed It’s Time tour with co-headliners Sleater-Kinney tonight in Spokane: “I’m anxious to see whether Wilco can still rock.” Well, 512 days — just shy of 17 months — since the last time they took the stage together as a band, in Winnipeg, it took all of five songs to confirm that Wilco can indeed still rock. That’s when the band launched into one of the surprises of their first set back — the return of fan-favorite Art Of Almost to the setlist after a lengthy hiatus. And, man, did it sound great to these ears, with Nels letting it absolutely rip as the song exploded into cacophony. Actually, it really took all of one song for Jeff and his bandmates to prove they hadn’t lost a step. The sextet returned to the stage with one of the most apropos songs of these pandemic times, A Shot In The Arm. What else could they play, right? It was a smart choice, along with the subsequent Random Name Generator, to play two upbeat songs to start because it engaged the audience from the outset and got most people on their feet right away in a room that can be stale. It’s one of those cavernous theaters with ultra-long rows and no center aisle, as well as two balconies, that is probably more suited to classical music or opera than a rock concert, IMHO. (Of interest to no one, but I feel compelled to mention that a) this was, I believe, the third time Wilco has played this indoor venue and each time it has had a different name — in 2008, it was apparently called the Spokane Opera House; and in 2012, the INB Performing Arts Center; and b ) I attended the latter and rank it among my bottom five Wilco shows ever, just for a complete lack of energy from the crowd and, I suppose, to a certain extent, the band.) Fortunately, the energy was much better this time around. Jeff’s banter mostly centered, as you would expect, around the return to live performance. Probably the funniest bit came after a beautiful Ashes Of American Flags to kick off the encore when Jeff admitted he “forgot how to keep my mouth closed during that break” in the song when Nels plays his lovely solo. “I caught myself drooling,” Jeff shared with his bandmates and the audience. “That was pretty primal, pretty cool.” Perhaps Jeff was still distracted by said drool during the next and final song of the evening, California Stars, when he flubbed the final verse. He kind of sheepishly glanced over at John and Pat, who were both still singing their parts, but Jeff never recovered on that part of the song. Not that anyone in the crowd seemed to much care. Certainly Jeff seemed to be a great mood. I noticed him playfully looking at Glenn at the end of Theologians, for instance, with his back to the audience. I’m guessing Jeff was sort of messing with him on whether or not he was going to add the “riff ending.” — will I or won’t I? — and I’m sure there were more than a few of those moments between the various bandmates during the set. And Jeff even had time to playfully banter with a couple of different audience members, one of whom just yelled out during one quiet moment between songs, simply, “Music!” which became a little inside joke the rest of the show. In praising Sleater-Kinney for sharing the bill with his band (see subsequent post for complete S-K setlist, btw, and apparently Chicago up-and-comer NNAMDï, who I thought was supposed to open the entire run of 17 It’s Time dates, will miss the first couple of shows), Jeff thanked them for “just being badasses…some of my favorite people — and badasses,” and added that usually he was scared of badasses. Of course one female voice had to yell out, “Then you’d be scared of me!” Jeff gave her a little grimace and simply shot back, “I don’t think so!” All in all, the 93-minute set — Wilco on at 9:45 p.m. and off at 11:18 — proved to be a delightful return for Jeff and Co. and those of us fortunate enough to be there (even though I heard the venue was far from sold out and there were plenty of empty seats in the back and in the balconies). Along with the aforementioned songs, On And On And On was a welcome curveball and I’m Always In Love is also always fun — and, in this case, pretty apropos, too. Happy 26th anniversary, Jeff and Susie! Anyway, I’ll probably think of something else I should add later on. But for now, here was the complete setlist, as played (Hold Me Anyway was on the printed list as the last song of the main set, but wasn’t played): A Shot In The Arm Random Name Generator Before Us I Am Trying To Break Your Heart> Art Of Almost If I Ever Was A Child On And On And On Impossible Germany Love Is Everywhere (Beware) Box Full Of Letters Born Alone Jesus, etc. Theologians I’m The Man Who Loves You Everyone Hides Heavy Metal Drummer I’m Always In Love ———————————————— Ashes Of American Flags California Stars 3 4 Quote Link to post Share on other sites
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