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Wilco — 15 April 2022, New York, NY (United Palace) [Night 1 of 5]


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So…what happened?

I Am Trying to Break Your Heart

Kamera

Radio Cure

War on War

Jesus, Etc.

Ashes of American Flags

I’m the Man Who Loves You

Pot Kettle Black

Poor Places

Reservations 

Break

Be Not So Fearful

Pieholden Suite

Magazine Called Sunset

 

70 minutes and done

 

 

 

 

 

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A lot of shitty, entitled comments from people. A commenter on Reddit said Jeff had his hands on his knees and bent of at the end of the YHF part of the set. I just hope everything is okay. 

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Well, I realize I've been a bit slack on the recap front of late (mostly on account of busy-ness with some real-life stuff but also laziness and old age) but nevertheless I'm starting a new thread for this first in a series of upcoming Yankee Hotel Foxtrot 20th anniversary shows. I see that another thread was already started, but I'm trying to at least rein the thread-titling standards back in after they seem to have run a bit, er, amok. I think I'm entitled to at least that much, right? :unsure [Mods, please feel free to combine the threads if you like.]

 

Anyway, until tonight, I guess no one outside of Wilco, its management, crew and special guests really knew exactly what to expect entering this run of shows commemorating two decades of the band's breakthrough album. Judging by the reaction both in real life and on social media in the immediate aftermath of Night 1 in New York City, however, it apparently wasn't this.

 

After a short opening set by the four women who make up the Aizuri (String) Quartet, which included a lovely YHF-themed prelude by Chicago music veteran and leader of the Total Pros horn section Dave Max Crawford — seriously, for those coming to future performances, be sure to get there in time to hear this delightful piece — Jeff suddenly appeared at stage left, turned on a speaker or amplifier of some sort that triggered the familiar Conet Project voice recording of "yankee...hotel...foxtrot..." and then joined his bandmates as they launched into the album-opening I Am Trying To Break Your Heart. Roughly 70 minutes later, after performing the album in its entirety plus three encore songs, the band and its special guests took their final bows before the giant red curtain of the United Palace came down and brought the evening to a close.

 

Actually, I kind of think that if Jeff had his druthers, he would have liked to just play the album and leave it at that. But he and the rest of the band at least attempted to placate the desires of a live audience by coming back out for a few more fitting songs. In the only comments he made during the show, prior to introducing the individual members of the Aizuri strings as well as the Total Pros horns who helped augment the performance, Jeff admitted that he and his bandmates "really didn't know what to do for an encore. We kind of wanted to let (the album) sit." He added that Bill Fay's Be Not So Fearful was a song that the band had learned and been playing around the time of YHF, and then acknowledged Jay Bennett's contributions to the record, said he wished Jay was here to celebrate the record with them and, since that wasn’t possible, that they figured it would be fitting to include him by playing two songs he had a direct hand in helping to craft, Pieholden Suite and A Magazine Called Sunset. (And for the record, it was a treat to hear both of those songs with the full horn and string arrangements, particularly the former, which Jeff has played solo more in recent years than he probably ever has but which really sounds glorious with the orchestral backing.)

 

This is sort of the problem with the "album in its entirety" show, right? How to build a live show around it, while also trying to keep the focus on the centerpiece of what you're trying to celebrate and present and also satisfy a sizable audience that has paid a good sum of money for a ticket (and/or traveled from afar). I almost feel like it is a no-win situation for Jeff and Co., because if you come out and play a separate set of "greatest hits," then it's sort of diluting the focus on YHF and the desire to celebrate that set of songs as a singular artistic statement but if you don't do enough other material, then people feel as if they haven't gotten their money's worth. So ultimately, I'll say that I get why some people probably were left wanting a bit more, but personally I tried to just concentrate on the album, the memories it stirred in me and the work put in by the band to re-learn the songs the way they were recorded.

 

That's what I think some people probably didn't, or weren't able to, fully appreciate — the subtle differences in many of the songs from the way they sounded on the album and have evolved in a live setting over time. It's bit hard to explain, I guess, but when you've heard a lot of these songs so many times, you start to notice things as significant as Jeff reverting to the album version in Heavy Metal Drummer, which does NOT have the lyrics about "she lifted up her shirt/at the battle of the bands/he twirled his sticks/she helped him to his van" that Jeff has sung forever live while Glenn twirls his sticks (which obviously he did not do tonight, nor did he stand on his drum stool before I'm The Man Who Loves You) — now I'm trying to figure when exactly Jeff started singing HMD with that verse — and as nerdy as the lack of a shaker accent (on I Am Trying To Break Your Heart) or cymbal scrape (on Poor Places) by Glenn. Just about every song featured something like that, like how we have gotten used to that little back-and-forth guitar interplay between Jeff and Nels during Pot Kettle Black that wasn't there in this performance, replaced by that (bouncing spring? textured ball?) sound that Nels made to replicate the album version.

 

Then again, not every single thing was a reversion to how they used to be. For instance, I noticed that at the end of Kamera, Pat still played the part on xylophone that Glenn used to play on crotales live (and presumably did on the album version). I actually remember when they first made that adjustment in the live version and Glenn saying something about how he thought that it really made that the best-sounding version of the song that the band had done to date. I guess it was too difficult or just not worth returning to that version, so they didn't.

 

And there were just the parts of the record that I'm not sure if I ever remember the band playing live in the way they did tonight. I put the very conclusion of the album, the almost-ambient, beautiful outro to Reservations in that category. At his book event last week in Denver, which I attended, Jeff briefly talked about that part after the final lyrics in Reservations being his favorite part of the record and how he hoped that the audiences for these anniversary shows would stay patient enough to go with the flow of the album and how it concludes (which the United Palace crowd had moderate success with, after the inevitable applause and hooting and hollering that usually happens after Jeff sings the final lyric in the song). I had almost forgotten about it until I re-listened to the album and because the band usually doesn't draw it out nearly as long as it did tonight, but it's a lovely, meditative way to bring this special set of songs to an end — and, I suppose, bring it back to the beginning again if you have the album on repeat on CD or your streaming player, for example.

 

It will be interesting to see if the shows evolve at all as this run continues. Obviously the full album will continue to be performed, but there is always a chance that more songs could be added to the encore to flush out the set a bit more. I wouldn't complain about hearing more music, of course, but if this is what Jeff and his bandmates want to present, then I almost hope that they don't stray from what they want to do whether most people like it or not. If people are coming this show expecting a "typical" Wilco show that ends with a barnburner of a "rock songs, etc.," encore and a lot of visits to Banter Corner, or an epic-length set, I'm afraid they will probably leave disappointed regardless.

 

Certainly this was not a "typical" Wilco show, and if I had one nit to pick, it would be that due to the curtain at the United Palace, the band is set up much further back on stage than usual; there is probably a 15-foot gap between the band and the front of the stage. And between that and the barricade set up in front of the stage, which I think is kind of unusual for a theater show, there is a certain detachment between band and audience that I felt like also prevented that connection that often makes Wilco shows so memorable. But as I have tried to suggest, these shows are probably not going to please a majority of the audience for many reasons. They really are going to be ones for the true nerds, I think, and I'm down with it. Hell, I know there are almost certainly way bigger nerds than me out there as it relates to some of this stuff...

 

Here was the complete setlist, as played, for Night 1 (either Aizuri (String) Quartet and Total Pros horns or both were present on stage for entire set, though strings and horns did not play on every song):

 

I Am Trying To Break Your Heart

Kamera

Radio Cure

War On War

Jesus, etc.

Ashes Of American Flags

Heavy Metal Drummer

I'm The Man Who Loves You

Pot Kettle Black

Poor Places

Reservations

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

Be Not So Fearful [Bill Fay]

Pieholden Suite

A Magazine Called Sunset

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Boy, it was like a balm for the soul to read your recap, Paul. I wasn’t there last night but will be for the rest of the NY shows, and I was fuming after reading so many hateful/hurtful comments in the Facebook group. I was bitterly disappointed to see people expressing outrage and accusing Wilco of getting soft and lazy. How could they be so shortsighted and entitled? Your review put me in a better frame of mind, but I may never get over my negative feelings about some of the so-called “fans.”

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1 hour ago, Magnetized said:

Boy, it was like a balm for the soul to read your recap, Paul. I wasn’t there last night but will be for the rest of the NY shows, and I was fuming after reading so many hateful/hurtful comments in the Facebook group. I was bitterly disappointed to see people expressing outrage and accusing Wilco of getting soft and lazy. How could they be so shortsighted and entitled? Your review put me in a better frame of mind, but I may never get over my negative feelings about some of the so-called “fans.”

Wilco broke their hearts

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  • Analogman changed the title to Wilco — 15 April 2022, New York, NY (United Palace) [Night 1 of 5]

I totally get the disappointment and I’m glad they started in New York and not Chicago so I have time to manage my expectations, but holy hell do I hope they play Pieholden Suite at the Chicago shows!!

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Geez, there hasn’t been this much angst around Wilco since the VW commercials! 
 

I am admittedly clueless about how these shows were advertised because if Wilco plays Chicago, I go. However, after so many people seemed surprised (not in a cool way) by last night’s show, I started looking around the interwebs to see how the show was pressed. The presser language seems to be it would be YHF “with some rarities and concert favorites.”  This verbiage is used and quoted on multiple sites. However,  Brooklyn Vegan went rogue and said there would be a second set of rarities. 
 

And there are born some major expectations. People see that, believe it, and then build it up bigger in their minds. I hate that for the band. I like the idea of being along for the ride the band wants to take you on but can understand how these promos created expectations in people. 
 

I’m excited for Chicago and to hear the album versions of the songs. I’m also excited for an early night 👵🏻

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Bands do album tours and  don't have problem playing other songs. U2 did joshua tree and played 2 hours wtf ?

The promotion for tour says they will play foxtrot plus hits from catalog hope everyone is healthy 

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25 minutes ago, Cajun said:

Bands do album tours and  don't have problem playing other songs. U2 did joshua tree and played 2 hours wtf ?

The promotion for tour says they will play foxtrot plus hits from catalog hope everyone is healthy 


It says “some concert favorites and rarities.” It sounds like the time thing —Did I get my “money’s worth”?—is the core issue for people. It sucks some people were so disappointed, but I hope Wilco is doing the art they want to do.

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1 hour ago, Happeningstone said:

Geez, there hasn’t been this much angst around Wilco since the VW commercials! 
 

I am admittedly clueless about how these shows were advertised because if Wilco plays Chicago, I go. However, after so many people seemed surprised (not in a cool way) by last night’s show, I started looking around the interwebs to see how the show was pressed. The presser language seems to be it would be YHF “with some rarities and concert favorites.”  This verbiage is used and quoted on multiple sites. However,  Brooklyn Vegan went rogue and said there would be a second set of rarities. 
 

And there are born some major expectations. People see that, believe it, and then build it up bigger in their minds. I hate that for the band. I like the idea of being along for the ride the band wants to take you on but can understand how these promos created expectations in people. 
 

I’m excited for Chicago and to hear the album versions of the songs. I’m also excited for an early night 👵🏻

Spent longer waiting for car after show then Wilco played. 

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1 hour ago, Cajun said:

Bands do album tours and  don't have problem playing other songs. U2 did joshua tree and played 2 hours wtf ?

The promotion for tour says they will play foxtrot plus hits from catalog hope everyone is healthy 

They literally did it during the Star Wars tour. Played the entire album, then a full set of other songs, plus encore.

 

Going Sunday so hopefully will get a few more tunes, but will be fine either way, now that I know what to expect.

 

Also, Wednesday night is looking like a half empty house…

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Just now, Happeningstone said:

I think the car wait is the real problem here 😅

Nah I’ve gone to 20 wilco shows and this rates as disappointing! 
It was promoted as a full concert featuring foxtrot in entirety.  Had they said only foxtrot I would have understood short show should i go??

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2 hours ago, Cajun said:

Bands do album tours and  don't have problem playing other songs. U2 did joshua tree and played 2 hours wtf ?

The promotion for tour says they will play foxtrot plus hits from catalog hope everyone is healthy 

Springsteen has also toured multiple albums and somehow also figured out the magic trick of playing more songs to, I dunno, not make it a 70 minute set. 
 

If they use this formula all five nights in NYC that’s just a bold move, not sure what else to call it. 

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I had some thoughts, but this is a better place to share- the Facebook gets to be a shit show too easily.

 

I really think people being surprised or disappointed is fair. Any longtime Wilco fan might be surprised by a set under 90 minutes. It doesn't match the last couple decades of performances.

 

That said, the intense vitriol is weird to me. I'd also add that any longtime Wilco fan would know that there's no way the band would choose to play less to short anyone. It's not like they don't like playing very much, or are saving something by playing fewer songs. I think we're getting to some hints about the reasoning, and hopefully that will be 100% clear. I don't think I'll agree with it, and can see people wishing that it was more transparent before they bought tickets, but they're not doing it that way just to be dicks.

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Wow, Paul!  

 

I couldn't have said it better myself.  You hit almost every point my friend and I discussed.  I  would also add that the sound in the theatre was soooo great!  And the volume was perfect.  A special evening that I will never forget.

 

Joanne

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I’m a casual fan.  Sat in the next to last row.  People were constantly coming in and out with their beers the whole time disrupting my experience. The fans stood the whole shows. I didn’t want to stand.  Eventually got up to stand. Saw 3 songs. Just getting into it when the show ended at 9:20. Booooooo. 

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If I had gone to this first show, I would have been very surprised seeing only YHF plus a 3-song encore. Not because I was aware of these shows being billed as anything specific (other than the YHF album), but because, as others have mentioned, my mental model of what "one entire album" shows are just includes a longer second set. So I totally get that part. That being said, I'm intrigued by the idea of the band presenting the album nearly on its own - especially with arrangements more similar to the recorded versions. I'm eager to see the Saturday show in Chicago, and frankly also like the thought of an early night. :lol I guess we'll see if the second night in NY is any different, but assuming this is the intentional format, I'm cool with it. Especially knowing ahead of time what to expect.

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Here is a positive spin on this: several years ago they played the Incredibly Shrinking Tour where they went from large venue (Opera House) to small club. Maybe this is the Incredibly Increasing Setlist tour, adding three extra songs per show, one guest performer from the past, and by the end Thax Douglass is back to read his poems. 
Yeah, right…

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All this debate about setlist lengths and I'm just sitting here wondering about the new 7". Did you buy it and have a chance to listen @bböp? If so are these previously leaked takes? Any mention on the sleeve of the forth coming deluxe edition of YHF?

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7 minutes ago, TCP said:

All this debate about setlist lengths and I'm just sitting here wondering about the new 7". Did you buy it and have a chance to listen @bböp? If so are these previously leaked takes? Any mention on the sleeve of the forth coming deluxe edition of YHF?

 
Yes, any pics of the merch booth? What else is there besides show posters and the single vinyl? Cool YHF shirts/hats/pins/ anything?

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