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Wilco — 8 September 2023, Dublin, Ireland (3Olympia Theatre)

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On the penultimate night of this European tour, Wilco left the audience at the legendary 3Olympia Theatre sweaty and out of breath after yet another two-hour show filled with plenty of rock 'n' roll moments. That's the level of professionalism and consistency of a veteran sextet that has played so many gigs together over the years. Yet if you looked closely and listened to some of what Jeff was saying, you could also see that there's some sense of relief that the finish line is fast approaching and that they and their crew will be able to get a much-needed break very soon.


Can a band be excellent, and a little tired, at the same time? I suppose I ask this question somewhat rhetorically.


Whether it was due to a language barrier earlier in the tour or simply not wanting to make any excuses, Jeff hasn't mentioned his hip ailment even once that I can remember on this run. I'm sure those fans on this side of the pond who keep up with Jeff and Wilco a little more closely have been aware of the situation like those of us in the U.S., but there are probably many others who have gone to shows over here who don't know. And to his credit, Jeff has pretty much managed it as well as you possibly could while still doing what he does. But tonight in Dublin, it was painfully clear — at least to me — that he needs some time off. My heart really went out to him when he came back on stage for the encore, dragging one leg behind him almost like a wounded animal. Oy vey.


When the audience gave the band a loud ovation at that moment, Jeff gave a typically self-deprecating response: "Thank you very much, but I think it's probably a bit much. Not for (the rest of the band) — they deserve it — but for me." And earlier in the show, after watching the crew deal with another minor technical issue, Jeff quipped, "It's a good thing we only have one more show left. All of our stuff is falling apart, including me."


Amid those challenges, there still were plenty of musical highlights. Such as a thunderous Misunderstood with an epic number of "nothings" and to which Jeff thanked the crowd afterward for singing along. "Boy does that sound good," he said. I thought the main set-closing A Shot In The Arm also had a lot of juice, especially in the relatively intimate confines of a room like the 1,600-capacity Olympia, which felt like a bandbox from another era from the inside and which Jeff likened to "playing inside a wedding cake. I like it."


Box Full Of Letters, meanwhile, let to Jeff's funniest (or most awkward, depending on how you look at it) visit to Banter Corner. Jeff introduced the song by referring to another classic Dublin music venue, Whelan's, and saying he thought Wilco might have played there when Box came out. When one punter confirmed that and said something to the effect of, "And we're still here," Jeff replied, "Thank you, and did you get your prostate checked? It's just good advice. And also don't forget to get a mammogram. Let's face it, there's not nearly" as much need for that, referring to the heavily male composition of the audience.


Then to Glenn who, of course, let Jeff twist in the wind for just a beat longer before finally kicking things off. "OK, I'm ready...you can start the song." Maybe you had to be there, but it was pretty funny. Afterward, Jeff continued to poke a little more fun at himself for the previous tangent by asking, "How's everybody doing? I'm recovering from my last bit of banter."


That was pretty much it for Jeff's comments at the Olympia, other than a brief fascination with a stray balloon that someone apparently unleashed. When his bandmates were about to start playing Jesus, etc., Jeff held them up momentarily. "OK, I have to ask, 'What's the deal with the balloon?'" he said, before taking a unscientific audience poll that resulted in no clear preference. "Who wants it to stay? Who wants it to go away? Suit yourself."


Should I stay, or should I go? I suppose the same question could very well have been asked about Wilco. Of course, the audience at the Olympia would almost certainly have opted for the former, given that this was the band's first show in the Irish capital in more than seven years. But at this stage in the tour, and with Jeff clearly struggling physically, I think the band probably gave about as much as it could for now, so it would be a more prudent decision to go home, get well and give it another go — here and elsewhere — hopefully before too much time passes.


Here was the complete setlist, as played, in Dublin (apparently, Spiders (Kidsmoke) was on the printed list as the final song of the show, but was omitted in favor of I'm A Wheel):


Hell Is Chrome

Story To Tell

Handshake Drugs

I Am My Mother

Cruel Country

I Am Trying To Break Your Heart

If I Ever Was A Child

Side With The Seeds


Bird Without A Tail/Base Of My Skull

Random Name Generator



Impossible Germany

Jesus, etc.

Box Full Of Letters

California Stars

The Late Greats

Heavy Metal Drummer

A Shot In The Arm


Falling Apart (RIght Now)


Outtasite (Outta Mind)

I'm A Wheel

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The prostate comment is one of those things that his inner filter suggests he shouldn’t really go there but he does. Then obviously spending the whole of the song thinking and laughing about it to himself. It shows despite all his woes and aches Jeff’s still in great spirits. 

Enjoy Cork, again. 

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Our last show on this run of dates. ☹️ Left me feeling very happy 🙂 but sad not knowing when we’ll see them again. 😕


Veterans my arse. Still a band at the peak of their powers and righteously concerned about the state of your prostrate.



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