Jump to content

Wilco — 17 October 2023, Seattle, WA (Paramount Theatre) [Night 1 of 2]

Recommended Posts

Tour To Infinity, eh? More like Tour To The 21st Century — or close to that.


By the encore of tonight's first of two shows in the familiar confines of the Paramount Theatre, I started to realize — and secretly hope for, if only for the potential historical significance of it — that we were getting awfully close to the prospect of a Wilco show without any songs from A.M., Being There or Summerteeth. If the band had just closed with Spiders (Kidsmoke) as it often has on this tour, that would have likely have cinched the All-21st Century Wilco concert; as it was, the final two songs negated that (although Box Full Of Letters wasn't even on the printed setlist). With the focus squarely on Cousin (and to a lesser extent, Cruel Country) these days, however, it's certainly possible at some point. Just an observation, not a criticism.


At any rate, another feeling I got not too far into tonight's show was one of déja vu. Was it only two years ago, almost to the day, that Wilco was up on this very stage blasting through Helter Skelter with support act The Young Fresh Fellows? I remember being in almost the same spot watching that happen, and thinking back, how it feels like so much and so little time has passed since then. Wilco couldn't possibly be touring behind not just one, but two new records since then, could it?


With such an abundance of new material to play, Jeff said he intended to keep the banter to a minimum as he had in Portland. "We've got a lot of songs to get to, so you won't hear a lot of yapping out of me," he said about six songs in. Then he first tried out the shtick of "abbreviated check-ins" that would become a running theme for most of the remainder of the show. So for example, he would ask, "How's it going?" and audience members would murmur a bit before Jeff abruptly cut them off. A song or two later, same thing: "How have you been? OK, shhh..that's enough." It actually worked pretty well for a while, with Jeff likening it to "speed dating with an audience. I think it's working out. We're enjoying this."


That really was about it for visits to Banter Corner this evening, though. Apart from a few comments in the encore, such as dedicating Meant To Be to all of us ("This one's for you all"), which incidentally fits pretty well as the opening song of an encore, though I'm still waiting for the end-of-main-set positioning for that one. Before starting the next song, Falling Apart (Right Now), Jeff asked for the house lights to be brought up for a minute "so I can see all of your beautiful faces. ... You're all still here! That means a lot to us." After adding an impromptu Box Full Of Letters when he realized there was still more time left to play (and, ahem, partially ruining my aforementioned narrative), Jeff finally bid the Night 1 crowd good night with a wave and a "See you tomorrow night."


I suspect we'll probably get just shy of half the setlist changed up on Night 2. (And ahem, still waiting to hear Levee over here or A Bowl And A Pudding for the first time.) But just based on what Jeff and Co. did at the last two-night stand down in Los Angeles, it seems like some good bets for songs to make it into this second Seattle set include Handshake Drugs, One Wing, Sunlight Ends, Whole Love, Via Chicago, At Least That's What You Said and of course, Spiders (Kidsmoke).


Musically speaking, on Night 1, I should note — for the nerds — that Theologians had the rare riff ending (as it did the other time it was in the set this tour on Night 1 at The Bellwether in L.A.) Soldier Child and Cousin, meanwhile, continue to impress live, perhaps more than on the record. I love the melody of the former, while the latter sort of reminds me a little bit of the live version of Locator with its garage-iness, for lack of a better term. And Bird Without A Tail/Base Of My Skull seems as if it has established itself as a setlist staple for years to come, given the reaction that its extended jam evokes. Even a security guard or usher — I'm not exactly sure which — asked a few of us after the show what the name of that song was.


I also couldn't help but thinking during Nels' solo in Impossible Germany that he must have been thinking about the passing of composer/pianist Carla Bley, whose death he posted about before the show. Anyone who's ever seen Nels play his own music has probably heard him play Bley's composition And Now The Queen at some point, and I know she was a strong influence on him.


Anyway, I think that's about all there was to report from this show, maybe except for the fact that the band welcomed a new support act in singer-songwriter Nina Nastasia, who will be on board until the end of the tour next week. Nastasia, whose seven studio albums have all been recorded by Steve Albini, played a short set of her Gothic-tinged folk songs and endeared herself to the audience with a brief and relatable story about driving mishaps en route to the venue.


Here was the complete setlist, as played, on Night 1 in Seattle (Love Is Everywhere (Beware) was on the printed setlist in place of Jesus, etc., while Box Full Of Letters was not on the list, as previously noted):



Infinite Surprise

Muzzle Of Bees

I Am My Mother

Cruel Country

I Am Trying To Break Your Heart

If I Ever Was A Child

Soldier Child



Bird Without A Tail/Base Of My Skull



Impossible Germany

Jesus, etc.

The Late Greats

Random Name Generator

Heavy Metal Drummer

I'm The Man Who Loves You


Meant To Be

Falling Apart (Right Now)

California Stars

Box Full Of Letters

A Shot In The Arm

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...