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Wilco — 12 August 2022, Cedar Rapids, IA (Paramount Theatre)


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Probably should've just sucked it up and tried to write something last night when I got to my lodging, but failing that and having to hit the road again pretty soon, I'll surely have to revisit this and add on later. But for now,  the domestic portion of Wilco's tour in support of Cruel Country kicked off tonight in the heartland and after some, uh, interesting crowd interactions during the first half of the show — more on that later — the band wound up playing a fairly longish, 2-hour, 5-minute set that featured more tunes from the new record than I feel like would maybe be part of a "normal" set.

 

After a six-week break following their summer European tour, this first show back felt to me a little bit like an extended dress rehearsal of sorts. Not to say that Jeff and Co. were making a lot of mistakes or anything, or that they didn't put on a proper capital-S show, but to me, it was almost like they were just running through almost everything they might play off Cruel Country in the coming weeks and getting their feet back under them.

 

The relatively intimate Paramount Theatre in downtown Cedar Rapids (where the band made its Cedar Rapids debut not even three years ago on the Ode To Joy tour) was a perfect spot to do just that, with a receptive and friendly Midwestern audience for whom to play. Of course with a reserved-seat indoor theater show, there is always a bit of the sit-vs.-stand dynamic, and there was again tonight, but unlike some places where it can get downright hostile, this was a pretty civilized outing. People would stand here and there or off to the sides, and most of the crowd would stand after certain songs to give an ovation, but then go back to sitting — at least until the encore, when the rock songs came out. But I didn't get the sense that anyone was getting "shouted down," as it were. It was all very pleasant, seemingly.

 

Not that things didn't threaten to go off the rails at least a couple of times early on when not one, but two audience members approached the stage and tried to either give something to Jeff or get him to sign something. Never a great idea, but for whatever reason, Jeff obliged them both. This truly is, as I've occasionally joked, Wilco's Era Of Good Feelings. (I will describe these encounters and Jeff's reaction to them when I have more time.)

 

For now, here was the complete setlist as played (there were some changes from the printed list, including I'm A Wheel listed but not played as the final song of the encore, Red-Eyed>I Got You getting added and Falling Apart Right Now being the first song of the encore instead of the final song of the main set):

 

I Am My Mother

Cruel Country

I Am Trying To Break Your Heart

Hints

War On War

Handshake Drugs

If I Ever Was A Child

All Across The World

Via Chicago>

Many Worlds (coda only)

Everyone Hides

Story To Tell

Bird Without A Tail/Base Of My Skull

Tired Of Taking It Out On You

At Least That's What You Said

Hearts Hard To Find

Impossible Germany

Mystery Binds

Jesus, etc.

Heavy Metal Drummer

A Lifetime To Find

Box Full Of Letters

The Late Greats

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

Falling Apart (Right Now)

Red-Eyed And Blue>

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

Outtasite (Outta Mind)

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It’s always so interesting to read your take on things, Paul. I can’t wait to hear your further thoughts about the “Era of Good Feelings” and what you discern from Jeff’s specific reactions. I think we can assume (hope?) this Wilco era won’t devolve into chaos the way it did in the United States!

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I thought Pat's reaction to the bracelet gift to Jeff was awesome. "Hey I have an arm too!"

 

While I was at 2 Wilco shows last year (Pritzkar Pav w/ Sleater-Kinney & Treasure Island w/ Trampled by Turtles), I was extremely eager to see a full set performance for the first time since 2019. I was not disappointed at all. I love the Paramount venue, had to go back after seeing the band there also in 2019.

 

Before last week I only had listened to Cruel Country once, I have been waiting for the the hard copies Vinyl/CD to fully enjoy. I broke down in the week leading up to the show, wanting to be somewhat familiar with what I assumed would be the bulk of the set. I wound up listening to it start to finish over a half dozen times. I think it's an awesome piece of work. Maybe my favorite album since Sky Blue Sky. The new stuff is really enjoyable to hear live.

 

Only nitpick, is with Impossible Germany (a must) along with Many Worlds coda and At Least That's What You Said, that's really really long instrumental piece. I would have ditched at least one (but not Impossible Germany) even though they are all good in their own right to add another song or two.

 

Of my 43 Wilco shows, I would rank this solidly in the middle. Maybe Top 20.

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^^^I kind of like seeing Impossible Germany, the Many Worlds coda, and At Least That's What You Said in the same setlist. It gives each guitar player a chance for extended soloing. I also just like all three songs. But I can see that others might like to see others in there.

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