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Wilco — 14 August 2023, Sant Feliu de Guíxols, Spain (Guíxols Arena) [Festival Porta Ferrada]

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Circling back, at long last, to try and recount a delightful late afternoon and evening spent in the holiday beach town of Sant Feliu de Guíxols, which is about an hour's drive from Barcelona on the beautiful Costa Brava...


We arrived in time to head to the city center and have a look at the charming beachfront and harbor area as well as a quick drink at a nearby café, but then it was time to head a bit further inland to the Porta Ferrada complex where the 61st edition of its summer series of concerts was taking place. The sprawling complex featured two sides, essentially — one with a smaller stage and a number of food stalls/trucks/etc., and bars and the other with the fenced-in "arena" area with the main concert stage and a small adjoining area with a few more bars and places to hang out. Once you got into the complex, most people headed to the side with the food and a warm-up band playing. The hardcore fans, on the other hand, mostly opted to queue outside the arena, which didn't open until about 40 minutes before the show was set to begin.


After a short, but enjoyable solo opening set by Tré Burt, who said he was "fresh off the airplane," Wilco finally took the stage as scheduled at 10 p.m. For those in the audience who had seen Jeff and Co. play just over a year ago at the Poble Espanyol in Barcelona without Nels (who missed several shows on last year's Spanish tour due to a positive Covid test) — and it seemed like there were quite lot of people in that group — the draw surely was getting to see the band back at full strength again. I suspect if you took a survey of what Spanish audiences most love about Wilco, Nels and his guitar work would rank quite highly on the list, so having the guitarist back in the fold raised expectations for this gig.


"Isn't it nice that (Nels) is back strong?" Jeff asked rhetorically before Box Full Of Letters. "Well, this is from a record Nels wasn't on..."


For his part, Nels didn't disappoint. He parried with Pat on a fiery Bird Without A Tail/Base Of My Skull. Then adfter Box, he played one of the best Impossible Germany solos I've heard in some time. I even saw Jeff sneak a couple of looks over in Nels' direction mid-solo to take it in (and/or try to figure out how long he might stretch it out). Perhaps I was just in a sonic sweet spot, but I can't remember many solos where the sound was quite so visceral. Turning to Nels after the song, Jeff quipped, "I think you gave them the solo from last time, too." 


Jeff, meanwhile, looked to be reasonably spry for a 50-something man badly in need of a hip replacement. This was the first time I had seen him perform in nearly a month and when I saw him last, just playing solo, he really seemed to be struggling with said hip to the point where I wasn't sure how he would get through these upcoming Wilco band gigs. I know he had gotten some sort of cortisone shot recently that was supposed to help, but during that aforementioned solo tour, he stood on a special rubberized mat of some sort to take the load off a bit and he also wore a garish pair of sneakers that must also help. Here in Guíxols, for what it's worth, he wore his normal stage shoes and there was no mat in sight.


I'm sure Jeff has learned to manage his pain, and hopefully he is feeling better. When I saw him here for the first time in a while, he seemed like someone who could probably make it through the rest of the year, and not just be a shell of himself, but actually lead his band like we are accustomed.


Here was the complete setlist, as played (Via Chicago and the Many Worlds coda was on the printed list as the first song of the encore, but was omitted):


Handshake Drugs

Story To Tell

I Am My Mother

Cruel Country

I Am Trying To Break Your Heart


If I Ever Was A Child



Love Is Everywhere (Beware)

Bird Without A Tail/Base Of My Skull

You And I

Box Full Of Letters

Impossible Germany

Jesus, etc.

The Late Greats

Heavy Metal Drummer

A Shot In The Arm


Falling Apart (Right Now)

California Stars

Red-Eyed And Blue>

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

Outtasite (Outta Mind)

Spiders (Kidsmoke)

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  • bböp changed the title to Wilco — 14 August 2023, Sant Feliu de Guíxols, Spain (Guíxols Arena) [Festival Porta Ferrada]

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