bböp Posted June 22, 2022 Share Posted June 22, 2022 To Tatlock: A postcard from Zaragoza — that's th-air-ah-goth-ah for us non-brutes, I believe — where Wilco played its second show of this Spanish tour without the esteemed and beloved guitarist Nels, who remained in Covid quarantine after his unfortunate positive test the other day. Jeff's final words to the audience as he departed the stage tonight, in fact, were something to the effect of, "Go give Nels your love." But more on that in a bit... I won't go too deep into my personal recollections — or lack thereof — of Zaragoza, but I realized that this was actually the third time I've seen Wilco here, which I'm pretty sure represents every performance the band has given in this fifth-largest city of España. Actually this was where the band played its first-ever Spanish headlining show, back in 2005 (Jeff and mates had previously played a Primavera Sound festival or some such), and I remember that to secure a ticket — at least from the good ol' U.S.A. — you were instructed to e-mail the venue. You never got a confirmation receipt or number or anything, but just an assurance that a ticket would be waiting for you at the box office and you would pay for it when you arrived. Somehow, miraculously, it was. Anyway, I suppose Wilco has come a long way since those days — I was able to buy and print my ticket in advance and it was easily scanned (and at just 20 euros, it might have even been cheaper than it was back then)! — to the point where it drew a good-sized crowd of maybe 1,200 on a Tuesday night to a lovely enclosed garden section (the Jardin de Invierno, or Winter Garden) of one of Zaragoza's biggest parks (the Parque Grande José Antonio Labordeta). Of course I had to walk about 45 minutes back to my hotel after the show because the applicable buses had stopped running, cabs were fairly non-existent and ridesharing apparently isn't a thing here. Where was I? Oh yeah, Wilco. Well, as you might have expected without Nels again, his bandmates didn't exactly try and re-invent the wheel from the previous evening in San Sebastián. There were a few variations in the setlist, but basically they seem to have chosen the songs they feel they can best pull off as a five-piece lineup. It's perhaps just as interesting to zero in on some of the songs they don't think they can pull off without Nels that would otherwise almost certainly be in the set — classics like Impossible Germany and Handshake Drugs, obviously, but also Falling Apart (Right Now) and Bird Without A Tail/Base Of My Skull, among others, off the new record. Somehow they have found a way to cover Nels' solo on Hummingbird, as someone else had mentioned in the discussion of the San Sebastián show, and I think it was mostly Mike on keyboard as well as a hint of Pat on Mellotron. I'd be curious to know more, but I'm not sure my non-musical brain would comprehend anyway. It didn't all go off without a hitch, of course. On You And I, for example, Pat definitely hit a wonky note mid-song that caused him to wince a bit and I sort of missed the little psychedelic touches at the end that Nels usually adds to the ballad via his use of pedals and effects. A bit later in the 1-hour, 48-minute set, Jeff seemed to get caught between the album arrangement and live evolution of I'm The Man Who Loves You with Pat strumming an acoustic rhythm guitar and had to restart the song (and even then I'm not sure Jeff entirely nailed the opening to his satisfaction). Actually, it might have been some of that veering between various arrangements of songs, in addition to adjusting to Nels' absence, that was to blame for any minor struggles. But as usual, these are minor quibbles on my part. What stood out to me was that the rest of the band members seemed to be having a good time up there playing together, figuring things out on the fly occasionally and just seeming loose. Obviously they missed Nels being there — and once again Jeff took time out early on to address his absence by saying in part, "We're missing our wonderful compadre Nels. He would never, ever want the show to not go on, so that's why we're here. He loves us, and he wants us to play these songs for you, so thanks for letting us," — but at some level, they were still focused on putting on as good a show as possible for those who turned out. And they did. Apart from what I've already reported, variations of which were repeated a couple other times over the course of the show, the only real extended visit to Banter Corner came pretty early on after Sunken Treasure when Jeff apparently broke a nail after his shredding on that tune. As he was shaking out his finger, he stalled for a bit of time by pointing out that it was Pat's birthday but that we weren't going to sing happy birthday to him "because he doesn't want that." Then Jeff and Pat had a brief back-and-forth with Jeff joking, "I severely injured myself for your birthday," and Pat replying, "You didn't have to do that." Then of course, the audience proceeded to sing happy birthday to Señor Sansone, whether he liked it or not. No cakes were presented on stage, however. May I just also opine here how lovely it has been to hear Sunken Treasure the past couple of nights? Definitely in my personal top five Wilco songs, I think. I would gladly sacrifice it for Nels not to be sick — and I'm not sure the band would be playing it on this run if not for that unfortunate reality — but I'm not complaining otherwise. And tonight Jeff modified the lyrics of the last verse, changing the second "I was maimed by rock and roll," to "It's not the same without rock and roll, is it?" No, it is definitely not. Covid times have made it difficult for everyone, but certainly rock and roll bands (and crews) still face a ton of challenges as they attempt to navigate these ever-changing conditions, so here's once again wishing Nels a continued speedy recovery and the rest of the Wilcos and Wilcrew good health in their collective efforts to keep the show on the road. And wishing you, Tatlock, vim, vigor, vinegar and a peaceful tea time. Once again yours in concert and banter reportage, Your Faithful Correspondent. Here was the complete setlist, as played (I only caught a fleeting glimpse of a printed list, but I don't think there were any changes/omissions): I Am My Mother Cruel Country I Am Trying To Break Your Heart If I Ever Was A Child Story To Tell Sunken Treasure —happy birthday sung to Pat by audience— All Across The World Hummingbird Poor Places War On War At Least That's What You Said Please Be Wrong How To Fight Loneliness Hearts Hard To Find Box Full Of Letters Jesus, etc. Forget The Flowers You And I A Lifetime To Find Heavy Metal Drummer I'm The Man Who Loves You (started and restarted) ----------------------------------------------- California Stars Monday> Outtasite (Outta Mind) I'm A Wheel The Late Greats 4 1 Quote Link to post Share on other sites
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