bböp Posted October 27, 2021 Share Posted October 27, 2021 Not really sure what else to say right now except, "Hurray, they did it!" Somehow Wilco and the Wilcrew managed to resume touring amid a pandemic and get through the better part of three months on the road, criss-crossing the country without a single person getting sick with or testing positive for Covid-19 and without cancelling or rescheduling any shows (*except for one, in Kansas City, due to circumstances beyond their control). In these crazy times, I'd say those things alone are achievements worth celebrating. And I suppose you could consider this tour-closing, three-show run in Los Angeles sort of an extended celebration. For this correspondent, the final headlining Wilco show of 2021 on the second of two nights at the Orpheum Theatre had a little bit of everything: hellos, goodbyes, collaborations, rarities, banter, laughter, tears. It was better than Cats. I'd see it again and again... Seriously, though, there's always a little bit more emotion on the final night of a tour — technically, Wilco will make one more brief appearance at the Austin City Limits Hall Of Fame induction ceremonies in Texas in a couple of days — because things will never quite be the same as they are right at that moment. There are goodbyes to be said to a support act, especially one like Faye Webster and her band, with whom Wilco and crew seemed to develop an especially nice relationship over the course of nine shows together (more on Faye and Co. later). And then there are sometimes goodbyes to be said within the Wilco organization itself and that was also true this time with the impending departure of longtime lighting director Jeremy Roth, for whom this show was his last with the band and to whom Jeff gave a personal salute from the stage. Prior to that, there was one final hello to be said to an audience and, fortunately, this seemed to be one of the better crowds of the tour. Unlike the previous night at the Orpheum, the sitting-versus-standing tension was resolved pretty definitively from the start. From the opening synths of A Shot In The Arm, the vast majority of the attendees were on their feet and would stay that way for the duration of the show. It wasn't just the standing part alone, but you could tell that for one night anyway in a reserved-seat situation, the fates had aligned and there were mostly true fans occupying many of the first few rows. "We all remember how to do this, right?" Jeff asked rhetorically midway through the set, as he had the night before. "I don't know if it's the first time out of the house in a while for some of you, but you're doing great." A bit later on, as he also had done on Night 1 at the Orpheum, Jeff also took time out to repeat his message — "to say some of the things I said last night without crying," he said — about returning to touring and the hard work put in and sacrifices made by everyone in the Wilco organization to make these shows possible. And he also thanked the crowd for doing what it had to do to take care of each other by getting vaccinated and wearing masks and the like, even joking that while it might look "dystopian" to play a show to a completely masked audience, he was sure that everyone had probably done much weirder things at concerts before. Though Jeff apologized early for not talking much because I "just wanna enjoy every second of getting to do this again," Banter Corner was actually pretty active tonight. And it wasn't even all Jeff. One of my favorite moments in the show happened after Impossible Germany when there was sustained applause after a particularly emphatic solo by Nels. Jeff jokingly pointed in Nels' direction and started a brief N-E-L-S, N-E-L-S chant that the audience also picked up. Jeff explained that he just did that "so people stop calling him Nils." (It happens WAY more often than you might think!) But then Nels did something he does about once every five years and stepped over to Jeff's mike, pointed to himself and said simply, "From Los Angeles, California," which of course led to another big cheer. I guess Nels was worried that some younger audience members might not realize that he is a very proud Angeleno, even though he has lived on the East Coast for over a decade now. On the adjacent Antics Avenue, there were a few things that happened — and didn't happen — worth noting. On the downside, we didn't get one final "The End"-style introduction to Heavy Metal Drummer (which I wonder if we've seen the last of) and we also didn't get either the gorgeous outro solo by Nels on Ashes Of American Flags (since it transitioned right into Art Of Almost) or the full, unabashed windmills by Pat on the show-closing I'm A Wheel (from what I could see, it was only the slightly abridged Townshend). However, we did get the adorable back-to-back maneuver by Jeff and Nels during the breakdown in Random Name Generator, a slightly modified lyric by Jeff on Sunken Treasure with the inclusion of "It isn't the same without rock 'n' roll," and a rare double stick twirl by Glenn on Heavy Metal Drummer (I guess he wasn't satisfied with the execution of the first one). John also reprised his athletic scissor kick move that he had also done at the Hollywood Palladium on I'm The Man Who Loves You. And of course, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the collaborations with Faye and her band in the encore. Surprisingly, we got not one but two separate collabs — with several members of Faye's band, including pedal steel ace Matt "Pistol" Stoessel, coming out first to assist on California Stars, and then Faye herself coming out to add vocals on Jesus, etc. Jeff made a little joke that I forget how it started, but basically the punchline was that the 24-year-old Faye probably wasn't even born when Jesus, etc. first came out (which isn't quite true, but close...eek). Anyway, Jesus was a solid choice for Faye's decidedly chill aesthetic, and she, Jeff and John all harmonized together nicely through the middle of the song. So another year of Wilco touring comes to a close, one that I think everyone can agree was unlike any that came before. I'm really glad to have been able to catch as many shows as I did this year and feel quite fortunate that I was able to stay healthy and of course that the band and crew were able to as well. I realized that for all of my relatively petty quibbles about the weather, audiences or setlists, I ultimately feel a great deal of gratitude for being able to resume some normality again, for all the old friends I got to see again for the first time in a long time, for all the new friends I finally got to meet out there and for everyone in Wilcoworld doing what they do so well. Every time I think about whether or not to go to a show or stand up in a seated theater or sing along or whatever, I think two things: a) What would Scott McCaughey do? and b ) The future's not promised, so do it while you can. Here was the complete setlist, as played, for Night 2 at the Orpheum Theatre (I was told there weren't any changes/omissions from the printed setlist, though I didn't glimpse one myself): A Shot In The Arm Random Name Generator Muzzle Of Bees One And A Half Stars Ashes Of American Flags> 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) Hummingbird Box Full Of Letters Everyone Hides Either Way Dawned On Me Heavy Metal Drummer I'm The Man Who Loves You Poor Places> Reservations ---------------------------------------------- California Stars (w/Matt "Pistol" Stoessel, Charles LaMont Garner and Jordan Reynolds from Faye Webster band on pedal steel, percussion and keyboard, respectively) Jesus, etc. (w/Faye Webster on vocals) Red-Eyed And Blue> I Got You (At The End Of The Century) I'm A Wheel 2 7 Quote Link to post Share on other sites
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