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Wilco — 19 April 2022, New York, NY (United Palace) [Night 4 of 5]


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Since everybody's busy dissecting and discussing the just-announced Yankee Hotel Foxtrot super deluxe box set, maybe people have forgotten that the live version rolls on for a couple more days in New York before shifting to hometown shows in Chicago later this week. For his part, Jeff couldn't help pointing out the irony tonight when briefly mentioning the box set that the band started this five-night run at the United Palace with people saying that it didn't play enough and are ending it with people saying it puts out too much stuff. Bitter much? I keed, I keed...

 

"It's OK," Jeff said of yet another no-win situation. "Let's face it, Wilco has spent our entire career making audiences want less. That's Wilco's motto: Leave them wanting less."

 

All joking aside, it seems like Jeff and his bandmates have finally settled on a set (or rather, two sets) that maintain the integrity of what they want to do in presenting Yankee Hotel Foxtrot as a complete album as it was originally recorded as well as playing enough other material to satisfy the demands and expectations of a live audience. Tonight's show marked the first time that consecutive shows in this brief YHF 20th anniversary tour — not counting the band's performance of Poor Places on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert the night before, obviously — have featured the exact same setlist. And as evidence that the audience might finally be "getting it," Jeff admiringly credited the Night 4 audience with its patience as the extended outro to Reservations played out to compete the album cycle.

 

"I think that's the first night we've done this that the song was actually over before we made a sound together," Jeff said upon coming back out for the encore/second set. "Aside from that one guy who went 'Woo hoo,' but don't blame him. He's all right. It's been a meaningful and challenging endeavor to revisit this record and present it (as it was made)."

 

One thing that I've gradually realized as I've seen more of these shows is not only the challenge of unlearning and relearning the arrangements of different songs from the way they have evolved live over the years, but also how much various samples played a role in the sound of the record and, consequently, how difficult it can be to recreate those sounds live at the precise moments they need to be recreated. Maybe because it was of where my seat was tonight, but I took notice in particular of just how much Glenn is hitting his sample pad throughout the YHF portion of the set and that it's not easy to do everything he has to do from a percussion standpoint while also managing those samples at the appropriate times.

 

That may have accounted for the goof that I know Glenn was a bit embarrassed by when he accidentally triggered the chimes that open Ashes Of American Flags a song early, when the band actually was set to play Jesus, etc. "You know what's next," Jeff said to the audience, referring to the premature chimes. It goes to show that despite the album portion of the set being the same every show, the band still must execute it again each and every night. These little flubs — and I'm sure there have been some I haven't even noticed — show that the band members are human. And perhaps that is fitting, too, since humanity is a theme of the record.

 

In general, I've really enjoyed seeing how the band has recreated the sound of the record and who is doing what. How did they ever do this as a four-piece lineup, which they did for some time after Jay Bennett's departure and before multi-instrumentalist LeRoy Bach joined as a touring member? For these 20th anniversary shows, they have even more proverbial hands on deck with the presence of the fantastic Aizuri Quartet as well as the three-member Total Pros horn section. The latter, in addition, to doing both the horn and string arrangements and adding the various woodwind and brass sounds are also chipping in occasionally elsewhere, such as Dave Max Crawford providing the steady drum heartbeat on Radio Cure that frees Glenn up to add more percussive flourishes. Again, I definitely appreciated that more tonight.

 

And it's evident that the band is still tinkering with the arrangements of some of the songs it has chosen to perform with Aizuri and/or the Total Pros in the encore. For example, tonight I noticed that in Hummingbird, Nels actually played his usual solo (though not with the usual "silver bastard" Jaguar he normally uses on the song) that leads to the conclusion of the song whereas I'm almost certain that during the previous show on Sunday, that guitar part was interestingly played by the Aizuri strings.

 

Who knows if any more, or any different, songs will be added to the second set over the second half of this run, though it seems relatively unlikely? Tonight there were at least a few requests shouted out from the crowd, one of which Jeff must have heard. "No, we have put together a program for you tonight," he gently chided. "Just like Broadway." Then perhaps realizing just far uptown he actually was, Jeff added, "OK, close enough."

 

Here was the complete setlist, as played, for Night 4 (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

Cars Can't Escape

A Magazine Called Sunset

Hummingbird

The Good Part

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

Outtasite (Outta Mind)

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I went to the show last night. I have not listened to a lot of Wilco, but did my “homework” and listened to YHF several times over the last two months. I also watched the documentary about the album. I had been following the reviews and controversy re night 1 being short. 
 

A few thoughts:

1. Excellent performance of YHF last night. The lighting is also on point and sets the mood. 
 

2. After being there, I can understand why they/Jeff might have wanted to keep the show to just YHF. When Reservations ends the feeling in the room is something else. I would enjoy walking out of the theatre with that being the mood. I think the only mistake they made was not announcing it when the shows were announced. For example: “Wilco is playing special shows to commemorate YHF. Unlike regular shows, the album will be the full performance.”  Had they done that no one could be legitimately upset and the artistry of the moment could’ve happened. 
 

I would go see this show again, but sadly cannot make it tonight. Amazing performance of YHF. 

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There is an easy way to have achieved what they wanted and keeping everybody happy. Van Morrison did this kind of thing with Astral Weeks live a while back, come out and play a set of "hits"/obscurities, then an interval (if they want), then the album in full. Reservations ends and lights up.They could still insert the string quartet halfway through as an overture to YHF

 

"Platinum" tickets for these shows were around $400, for a 70 minute set that's pretty rough.

 

I paid $175 plus fees for front row on Saturday and I loved it. Friday night would have been tougher

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26 minutes ago, summerdai said:

There is an easy way to have achieved what they wanted and keeping everybody happy. Van Morrison did this kind of thing with Astral Weeks live a while back, come out and play a set of "hits"/obscurities, then an interval (if they want), then the album in full. Reservations ends and lights up.They could still insert the string quartet halfway through as an overture to YHF

 

"Platinum" tickets for these shows were around $400, for a 70 minute set that's pretty rough.

 

I paid $175 plus fees for front row on Saturday and I loved it. Friday night would have been tougher

 

At the risk of reverting VC back to its heydey and rekindling the ember of controversy (let's leave that to Facebook, shall we?), I've also thought that a simple reversing of sequence would have made a ton of sense.  An opening set of an hour of hits + YHF B-sides, ending with the Jay tribute, then a break, then the new string intro / overture, then YHF, then just stop - would sure seem to accomplish the goal they set out with.  If anything, I think the anticipation building up for YHF in that first set would make it even more amazing and well received. It sure worked at Solid Sound - that "gift" of the YHF encore after Being There was more icing on a cake than any of us deserved.

But hey, they didn't consult us, and Jeff's allegedly good at that "show business" stuff, so alas we're just the armchair quarterbacks and peanut gallery once again.

I'm looking forward to the Chicago shows and will bask in the glow of hearing my favorite Wilco album in all its sonic glory with friends and family. What's not to love?

Cheers,

Vince

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When did Jeff/Wilco add to live shows the current additional verse to Heavy Metal Drummer that is not on the album so not being played? The one with lifting up her shirt when we get the Glenn drumsticks twirl.

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18 hours ago, Steve said:

When did Jeff/Wilco add to live shows the current additional verse to Heavy Metal Drummer that is not on the album so not being played? The one with lifting up her shirt when we get the Glenn drumsticks twirl.

I posted this in the Night 1 thread as well:

 

Tweedy was performing it that way as early as the spring 2001 Solo Tour which I saw in Mpls at the Guthrie. Even though it was not officially released yet, the audience was well versed on the song previously from the online streams and bootlegs, so the modification still got quite a reaction from the fans.

 

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Thanks Gold87 as i missed your earlier note on this point. Interesting; so written about the same time but not captured on the album. The tune really benefits from that extra verse. 

 

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