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Wilco — 17 October 2021, Oakland, CA (Fox Theater) [Night 1 of 2]

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Well, as far as first nights of two-night stands go (...by a veteran band halfway through its first headlining tour amid a still-raging global pandemic during which indoor shows require proof of vaccination and masks to be worn...), you'd probably be hard pressed to do much better than what Wilco delivered to a near-capacity crowd at the still-gleaming Fox Theater in Oakland tonight.


I'm not going to confirm or deny that at least a couple of songs in the 26-song set — the longest of the tour thus far, incidentally — might have been influenced by some people standing on a sidewalk in the early afternoon who glimpsed the pasty lower limbs of a certain frontman, but let's just say that a few suggestions were asked for and given. In any case, it was a delightful to hear Pot Kettle Black again (which hadn't been played live by the full band on American soil since 2017 during the final show before the band's 18-month pre-pandemic hiatus and on which Jeff used a 12-string acoustic for the first time that I can remember) as well as old favorites Sunken Treasure (which is sounding as vibrant and vital as ever) and California Stars (which was happily received even if there might have been a bit of concern about it being overly pandering).


Then there was the appearance of the other Mermaid Avenue song in the set, Airline To Heaven, which I'm not sure anyone outside of Jeff expected. I'm not going to liken it to a hen's tooth, but it hasn't exactly been a recent live staple either, having previously been performed only twice by the full band since 2015. As long as there's not a technical issue, it's usually a good sign for the audience when members of the Wilcrew are scurrying around the stage because it means something out of the ordinary is probably going to happen and that was the case here when, in addition to a different guitar, one of Jeff's guitar techs also brought out what seemed to be a lyric sheet and deftly affixed it to one of his monitors.


About two thirds of the way through the set, Jeff glanced down at his planned program and made the observation/inquiry that "we still have a few songs left to play. Is that all right?" (Spoiler alert: It was, indeed, all right.) Anyway, he then couldn't resist having just a little bit of fun with the crowd when he pointed out that someone had said something to the effect of, "Play them all," and he replied, "Sure, we'll play all the songs......that are left on the setlist for tonight." #sickburn


Earlier in the show, Jeff acknowledged he hadn't been talking much on this tour for two reasons. One, that he usually wound up saying "stupid shit" whenever he did pay a visit to Banter Corner. And two, that he and his bandmates were just really enjoying getting to play music together again, so that's what they wanted to do. He then looked out at the crowd and raised his arms triumphantly for a second and added, "We're here! We made it back!" A few songs later, before Everyone Hides, he reiterated the joke he has been occasionally making about how this was another song from Ode To Joy, "the album we were on our way to play for you before all the joy."


(Incidentally, I do wonder by this point in the "Ode To Joy" tour if we'll end up hearing any more songs from that record than have already been played. I suppose Before Us, An Empty Corner or Hold Me Anyway could always pop up in one of the six remaining shows, but it's getting increasingly unlikely that these West Coast gigs will entirely capture the vibe of those shows earlier in the OTJ touring cycle, which is kind of a shame if you really wanted to hear a few more of those tunes, but I'm guessing is probably just as well with most people).


Anyway, as mentioned, Banter Corner was relatively barren tonight, though Jeff did have a couple of small quips to offer as the evening progressed. After a sustained bit of applause for Nels following his Impossible Germany work, Jeff looked over at him admiringly and asked, "Did you whip that up that up this afternoon?" And then before Dawned On Me when there was a brief delay while some issue was sorted out with Nels and his garish white double-neck Jerry Jones Longhorn guitar, Jeff remarked, "We're gonna need a few minutes. (Nels) broke something. It was a flawless show up to this point."


Of course that was hardly true since there are a few little hiccups in almost every show, whether the audience notices or not. For instance, I'm fairly certain that Jeff flubbed some lyrics in How To Fight Loneliness, but it was one of those cases when he only realized it himself just after singing the wrong lyric it and thus didn't "break," as he usually does when he messes up. I doubt too many other people in the crowd picked up on it. Perhaps a few more folks, especially those closer to the stage, picked up on Jeff breaking a string during another intense run through Laminated Cat, which he nevertheless seemed to power through without incident.


Lastly I would be remiss if I didn't least mention the "rock songs, etc." encore, which finally got its Being There flow back after a couple shows with I'm A Wheel in place of Outtasite (Outta Mind). Ironically, it was during the latter that I think I finally glimpsed some abridged windmilling by Pat — which had been absent during its typical spot in Wheel the past couple times out — so I guess it's not a physical thing, at least not entirely. In any case, it was a more-than-welcome sight and capper to a frenetic encore. Perhaps we can do it again sometime...


Here was the complete setlist, as played, for Night 1 in Oakland (there were no changes/omissions from the printed setlist):


Bright Leaves

A Shot In The Arm

Random Name Generator

Side With The Seeds

One And A Half Stars

Pot Kettle Black

Art Of Almost

How To Fight Loneliness

Sunken Treasure

Laminated Cat (aka Not For The Season)

If I Ever Was A Child

Impossible Germany

Love Is Everywhere (Beware)

Airline To Heaven


Everyone Hides

Dawned On Me

Jesus, etc.


I'm The Man Who Loves You

Poor Places>



California Stars

Red-Eyed And Blue>

I Got You (At The End Of The Century)>

Outtasite (Outta Mind)

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Bböp’s recap is spot on as usual and greatly appreciated for the detailed documentation. What’s impossible to capture in words though is the fire and energy coming off that stage. Right from the get go when they launched into Bright Leaves it just felt like they were playing at their absolute peak and it took my breath away. Almost every song seemed to have extra juice and some, like Sunken Treasure, went places I can’t recall seeing them go before. Not to mention, the sound was perfect, I mean PERFECT, from the rail in between John and Pat. You don’t often get that kind of sound quality when you’re that close to the stage. I can’t wait for tonight!

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