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Wilco — 25 April 2023, Nashville, TN (Ryman Auditorium)

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I was all prepared to lead with something about the Mother Church of country music and how Wilco was finally, at long last, playing the one venue it had to play when it finally embraced the genre by putting out an album called Cruel Country. And furthermore, how the band then typically subverted that potential pigeon hole by opening with two of the loudest, skronkiest and probably least country songs in its catalog before finally mixing in some of its "country" material from the most recent record and going on to acknowledge the venue and how special it was to be playing some of this material there.


So anyway, that was the thread that was going through my mind to write about. But then came Ed.


Once again, Wilco's nightly custom during this year of touring of awarding a small trophy to an audience member for being the "Best Behaved" provided one of the defining moments of the show. From the moment Jeff spotted a ruddy white-haired gentleman wearing a Pabst Blue Ribbon bowling(?) shirt off to his left who apparently reminded Jeff of his late father and, on "a whim," decided to give him the trophy, one of the memories people will carry with them from this show was born. Years from now, I bet people will hardly remember any of the songs that were played at this show but they will almost certainly remember that it was "The Night Of Ed." After deciding to give him the trophy, Jeff asked the man's name. "Ed," came the reply. "Of course it is," Jeff said, as the crowd began to chant his name (with some encouragement from Glenn's kick drum). "Make us proud, Ed." Jeff continued on by saying something to the effect that it would be the coolest thing if Ed hadn't even planned on going out tonight but had just decided at the last minute to throw on his PBR shirt and come on down and check out the rock show.


That line of thinking, I believe, led into the cementing of Ed's status as a Big Lebowski-style "Dude" figure within the span of a few minutes. I forget exactly how it all got started, but Pat was apparently so taken that he made a rare on-mic comment about how we should all "look for our inner Ed-ness." Jeff concurred, adding that we should definitely "look for our inner Ed." Then he came up with the winning final line, at least getting a sign of approval from Pat, of how we should all "look Ed-ward."


Since we're apparently on a first-name basis as far as this review goes, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that the band actually had a very special guest — Duane — join them for a song, as they have at many stops on this tour. Tonight it was someone I wasn't immediately familiar with, at least by appearance, but whose resumé in American music speaks for itself. Duane Denison is probably best known for his work with the influential avant-garde band The Jesus Lizard, which was based in Chicago in the 1990s and often played at Lounge Ax, as well as for being a founding member of the supergroup Tomahawk with Mike Patton and his own group The Denison/Kimball Trio. (Incidentally, I can report that Duane said he enjoyed himself very much because I ran into him outside after the show waiting for his ride and got to chat for a bit. He's also friendly with Nels in part from being on some of the same Lollapalooza bills in the 90s when Nels played with Mike Watt.) Anyway, Jeff obviously was pretty gobsmacked at getting to share a song with Duane, saying on stage that "you could've told me that was gonna happen 20 years ago and I wouldn't have believed you...so cool."


Jeff actually didn't visit Banter Corner much at all over the course of the evening, at least until these late-show excursions. Other than several mumbled "thank you for coming" and "everybody having a good time" bits between songs, he was much less chatty than other shows on this run. Not to say that he seemed to be in a bad mood or anything, just that for much of the show, there was a bit more of a focus on the music. And the song selection sort of bore that out, with more serious, intense numbers such as Sunken Treasure and Reservations making their first appearances in what felt like a little while.


Things would loosen up a bit by the end of the night, especially in the post-Ed set, and actually aside from creating The Cult Of Ed, Jeff probably made his most extended comments at the start of the encore when he introduced Falling Apart (Right Now). He said that when wrote the song he must have had the Ryman embedded in his mind somewhere deep down and that he was delighted to finally be able to play this song in that room. "It's probably the closest I'll ever get to playing this type of music in the right place," Jeff said.


From a setlist perspective, you could make the argument based on the opening trio of songs that this one was going down the "Night 3 road," based on the Night 3 setlists for the three-night runs in Chicago, Port Chester and Reykjavik leading up to this tour. The first three songs for all of those shows — and this one — were identical, but whereas the mini-residencies veered into slightly more challenging territory with such songs as Mystery Binds, Laminated Cat (aka Not For The Season) and the show-closing On and On and On, these single-night Southeastern tour shows have seemingly veered away from those other shows somewhat in the second half. Then again, those other shows were also bound by the promise of "no repeats" over the course of three nights, so it's not an exact parallel.


At any rate, I'm obviously nitpicking a bit here. Jeff and his bandmates have almost always been sensitive performers, tailoring setlists to match certain venues, reading a given audience in the moment and adapting as necessary or whatever it might take to put on the best possible show for the most possible people. We all have songs we want to hear and ones that we could go a long time without ever hearing again probably, but when it comes down to it, if we're truly embracing our inner Ed, then I suppose we should just all roll with the punches and let the good times roll. Or something.


Here was the complete setlist, as played (there were no changes/omissions from the printed setlist):


At Least That's What You Said

Spiders (Kidsmoke)

The Universe

I Am My Mother

Cruel Country

Handshake Drugs

Hearts Hard To Find

Whole Love

Bird Without A Tail/Base Of My Skull

Side With The Seeds

One And A Half Stars

Impossible Germany

Sunken Treasure


Jesus, etc.

Either Way

Box Full Of Letters

Dawned On Me


Falling Apart (Right Now)

California Stars (with Duane Denison on electric guitar)

The Late Greats

Heavy Metal Drummer

A Shot In The Arm

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1 hour ago, wilcolovesyou said:

Love those shows where Kidsmoke is 2nd or 3rd as it makes for some kickass energy thru the whole show.  I'm on pins and needles waiting to read what you write about last night's show..........lay it on us, Paul. 


I'm a little alarmed that anyone other than Uncle Albert would be on pins and needles waiting to read any of my cockamamie blatherings, but thanks for being interested, I guess? :ninja

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Ah, the Night of Ed.  I happened to be immediately behind the man himself, and certainly took note of the "bowling shirt" with PBR prominently displayed front and (moreso) back.  He seemed to be having a swell time, standing most of the show (a few folks in front of us sat quite a bit, making sitting an OK thing sightline-wise), singing along with a few more popular tunes.  Indeed you coulda knocked him over with a feather upon receiving the esteemed award.  He hammed it up for the crowd, soaking in the chants and applause. 

After the show, I asked to take a picture - see below.  There was woman (likely Mrs. Ed), and another fellow with them.  The other fellow, seeing that I had one of the prized / rare Hatch print posters with me in a bag, said (without actually consulting Ed) "I bet he'd trade you that trophy for that poster."  I replied "You're probably not gonna believe this... ", after which Ed and I got quite a chuckle out of the whole story.  I told him we have meetings every other Thursday, and that we'd email him the secret location later.  And yes I still have the poster...
Fun show for sure.  Highlight for me was definitely Sunken Treasure.  Crowd participation was just nominal, with the "papapara" for Spiders needing some encouragement and never really getting off the ground.  Ushers and security were pretty busy all night running off the numerous aisle crashers making their way (often repeat offenders) toward the pit area.  Jeff was indeed not very chatty for most of the show; Bbop caught all the noteworthy stuffs. 


Without further ado, here's Ed.




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6 hours ago, bböp said:


I'm a little alarmed that anyone other than Uncle Albert would be on pins and needles waiting to read any of my cockamamie blatherings, but thanks for being interested, I guess? :ninja


Long time listener, rare commenter here- keep em coming!

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15 hours ago, TCP said:

I for one am a bbop mega fan. I don't even know who Wilco is? What's a Jeff Tweedy? I just come here for bbop's words.


Hit the nail right on the Ed, to continue today's theme.



17 hours ago, bböp said:

Uncle Albert would be on pins and needles


Ta to Bbop as per contractual obligation. Now back to bed.



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  • 2 weeks later...

Wow - what an article!!! And what a night. The best concert I have ever been to hands down. Thanks for the kind words - what a shock. I can’t WAIT to go to my next Wilco show. Thanks to Mr. Tweedy for recognizing the PBR shirt. That thing has magical powers. Except for lottery tickets. “Wilco loves ya, baby!”

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