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Wilco — 23 October 2021, Los Angeles, CA (Hollywood Palladium)

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Despite the show taking place at what has increasingly become a crappy Live Nation venue — more on that later — it certainly wasn't a bad way to kick off Wilco's three-night stay in Los Angeles with some good old-fashioned rock 'n' roll. And that's exactly what the band ultimately delivered with a back half of the set packed with crowd pleasers and rockers, including a "rock songs, etc." encore during which I'm sure more than a few people lost their you know what.


But before I get into other matters, may I just take a brief moment here off the top — since I don't think I really have yet during this run — to pay proper homage to the wonder that is the live Laminated Cat. Sometimes I wonder why this hasn't become a setlist staple the way a song like Impossible Germany has, where Jeff feels the need to play it every single night, and other times I'm glad that it has remained a somewhat deeper cut that will probably drop off the regular setlist again once the next record comes out and room needs to be made to play new songs. IMHO, it's every bit as stunning live as Impossible Germany even though it doesn't have an iconic guitar solo segment in it (which, along with the fact that it's not even technically a Wilco song, is probably why it's not viewed as one of the band's most famous tunes).


Anyway, at the Hollywood Palladium, Laminated Cat came as the denouement of an early-set trilogy of deeper-cut songs that also included How To Fight Loneliness and Sunken Treasure and continued to be a vehicle for interesting improvisation that has been exciting to watch during this Western tour. The version tonight came to a conclusion with all of the other instruments and sounds fading away until just Glenn's thundering drum beats remained. I was thinking about it, and it was the most classic drum-solo moment I can remember Glenn having during a Wilco show since his actual blatant drum-solo moment on that old chestnut Let's Not Get Carried Away.


I guess classic rock was sort of an appropriate touchstone for a venue like the Palladium, which I'm sure has hosted plenty of those sorts of concerts in its day (as well as probably more than a few big-band shows before that). The 81-year-old place has sort of an old-fashioned ballroom style design with a pretty wide stage, a large open dance floor and a mezzanine level. Unfortunately Live Nation manages it, which means there are arcane policies like you apparently can't bring drinks onto the floor, even water — they said it was because they didn't want people taking off their masks to drink, but it might have prevented at least one person from passing out when the floor started getting more crowded and the temperature went up — and you're constantly getting shooed out after a show. There are a lot more little nits I could pick, but the place is kind of a dump inside at least in the eyes of this humble correspondent.


Los Angeles always attracts an interesting mix of people for a Wilco show, and this one was no exception. You've got a lot of very devoted local fans, of course, but also a lot of people visiting from out of town because family and/or friends live in LA as well as folks from all over the vast area that is southern California and music and entertainment industry people and you just never really know what the crowd mix for a given show will be. For whatever reason, perhaps the addition of Faye Webster as a support act or just the demographics of a general admission show, I noticed a lot more younger people up front than anywhere else on this run.


It's also always a bit of a family affair for Wilco in LA, too, since Jeff's brother-in-law is an Angeleno and often that means that Jeff's wife and/or kids will come to shows here — and Jeff dedicated I Got You (At The End Of The Century) to his wife Susie near the end of the show, so I assume she was there, even though I didn't see her. I did run into Jeff's sister going into the show, so I know she was in attendance. And you also have Mikael, who lives in Ojai now, so his family was probably there, and Nels is a native Angeleno and obviously has a million friends and family and deep roots here as well. (Webster mentioned that her dad was in attendance at the show as well.)


I wonder if all of the family at the show caused Jeff to be a little more distracted than normal because he flubbed lyrics in several songs, including Pot Kettle Black and Outtasite (Outta Mind). The look on his face indicated that he knew he had erred during PKB, when he sang the wrong couplet for the second half of the first verse and wound up singing the "a string I never strum" line twice because of it. Afterward, he spoke the correct lyrics, poking fun at himself by adding, "I know the words, just not when I'm supposed to know them."


Banter Corner was otherwise pretty barren tonight, other than Jeff complimenting someone in the front with a Venom(?) T-shirt but also telling him to put his camera down for a while and, a bit earlier, remarking that he and his bandmates had "been having an amazing time playing music for people again" and thanking Webster and her bandmates for playing with them on this leg of the tour. And despite the fact it seems unlikely we'll get any more Ode To Joy songs than they have already played on the run, I think Jeff reiterated the joke he has often made about these rescheduled/reconfigured OTJ performances about how they were supposed to be coming here "before all the joy came."


But in the end, I guess this one was destined to be more of a rock show than a talk show and to that end, the band came through with a performance fitting for the final full-band GA show of the year. We shall see what the next two nights in LA have in store, but it was nice to have a fun, sloppy night out with some good friends I haven't seen in a long time, so no complaints here (except for Live Nation...they can suck it).


Here was Wilco's complete setlist, as played (apparently Poor Place and Reservations were on the printed setlist at the end of the main set, but weren't played):


Bright Leaves

A Shot In The Arm

Random Name Generator

Side With The Seeds

One And A Half Stars

I Am Trying To Break Your Heart>

Art Of Almost

How To Fight Loneliness

Sunken Treasure

Laminated Cat (aka Not For The Season)

Pot Kettle Black

Impossible Germany

Love Is Everywhere (Beware)

Someone To Lose


Everyone Hides

Dawned On Me

Jesus, etc.


I'm The Man Who Loves You


California Stars

Red-Eyed And Blue>

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

Outtasite (Outta Mind)

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I could not have asked for anything more for my first Wilco show back after the past few years. They rocked the f out. It was truly balls to the wall, which suited the venue. I've been to a few show post-covid but all have been large, mostly outdoor venues (MMJ at SB Bowl, Van Morrison at Hollywood Bowl, Stones at Sofi Stadium). I can honestly say that none of those shows can hold a candle to being on the rail at a super rocking Wilco show. I was lucky that my wife was so awesome to go stand in line early and get us a good spot, while I finished work on Saturday. We had a spot on the rail right in front of Nels (always a good spot to stand). I couldn't believe how therapeutic it was to be at a sweaty rock show, dancing and grooving and getting our faces completely melted off in a way none of those other bands we've seen quite reached. I'll be completely honest in my bias toward Wilco. Seeing the Stones for my first time was completely amazing and MMJ play4ed one of the best shows I've seen them play in many years of seeing them, but nothing quite matched the energy of a great Wilco show - which the Palladium totally was. I never imagined I'd see a Wilco show that included this brilliant run of songs -


How To Fight Loneliness

Sunken Treasure

Laminated Cat (aka Not For The Season)


Not to mention it was preceeded by the great duo of IATTBYH/Art Of Almost and followed up by a truly epic Pot Kettle Black and Impossible Germany. The band is truly on fire and their joy and enthusiasm for being able to play together again is really coming through in the show.


I'm thrilled to be back at it for the next 2 nights at The Orpheum. Though it's a seated venue, I don't know if I'll be able to contain myself to a seat and I probably won't really try too hard. Here's hoping we get some more songs of OTJ (Bright Leaves is AMAZING - all the songs they played from OTJ were fantastic). I'd love to see a Spiders encore. Muzzle Of Bees would be a treat. I'm sure they will keep mixing it up for the 3 night run and I'm excited to see what they bring.


Donna - I was only a few people down the rail from you but I arrived late from work; and we stayed around after to try and get a setlist (unsuccessfully) after, so I also missed catching you. Maybe we can say hello again at one of the next few shows!


It truly was a great one. This actually marked just over 10 years of seeing Wilco shows for me and my wife. I saw my first shows at The Wiltern in 2009 and we saw our first show together at Aspen Jazzfest in 2010. So happy to have a few more on the horizon.

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1 hour ago, Muzzle of Dan said:

They rocked the f out. It was truly balls to the wall.


This is what I had mentioned a few times around here that I hoped for and I think the audience needed as a tonic after the covid times, so really glad Wilco are doing it - but a shame I'm not over there to see it LOL. Hope they have made a move back in that direction after a few years of the whispery dirge-rock, which has it's moments on record, but live never does it for me. Enjoy the LA run (to Donna too)!

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Dan, you write a glorious review! I'm sorry I missed you but so glad we both got to see that show!

It was passionate, top of their game, HELLO L.A. WE'RE BACK joyousness. Ode to Joy, it really was.

I felt joy I haven't felt since before the pandemic. Damn I love this band. Like no other.

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