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Wilco — 17 March 2024, Melbourne, Australia (The Forum) [Night 2 of 3]

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Second night better than the first? I believe a certain frontman once told me that rule himself one time, but it isn't always true. And what makes for a "better" show anyway? It's so subjective for everyone, I have to think. Is it more banter, or less? Is it a matter of hearing more songs that they personally wanted to hear? Or is it a matter of happening to stand in a spot where the sound was superior? Or a perception, either real or perceived, that the band performed better from one night to the next? Or simply the people one is surrounded by and enjoying the show with, which can make such a big difference — or at least it can for me.


Probably some combination of all of the above, so take it with all the necessary grains of salt when I say I think that for all the shade — joking and otherwise — that Jeff might have thrown the crowd tonight that I think I personally had more fun overall.


I'm not sure if Jeff expected a bit of a rowdier crowd on St. Patrick's Day or not, as there almost certainly would have been back at home in the U.S., but he was wearing a green T-shirt underneath his dark-colored jacket and mentioned the holiday early on in his first extended comments of the show. After an always-sublime How To Fight Loneliness, he said (not entirely truthfully) that he thought it would be the last quieter song in the set. "I think this might be it for our tender numbers for the evening," Jeff offered. "Sometimes there's a lot of them."


Other visits to Banter Corner involved various ways of trying to get the crowd more involved, such as when he shared his "mild-mannered David Lee Roth move" of indicating to an audience when he wanted it to sing along more. Jeff demonstrated the kind-of low-key arm motion he makes during the "Our love..." verse in Jesus, etc. when he hopes the crowd will join him in singing in unison and described it as a "sly way of saying" he wanted that to happen, likening it to the former Van Halen frontman "maybe overseeing after-school detention."


I do wonder if maybe the Forum crowd, which in theory should have been made up of the most ardent fans since it was the show that went on sale first of the three was perhaps a tiny bit more subdued than Jeff expected because when he came back out for the encore, he made an offhand comment that went something like, "They did a lot more of that (applause) last night. I hope you guys are OK." I'm sure he was half joking, but there's always an element of truth to everything Jeff says as well. At any rate, it was quickly forgotten as the band launched into Falling Apart (Right Now), complete with Pat's showy B-Bender Telecaster antics at the end that drew — appropriate enough on the holiday — a few "Pat! Pat! Pat!" chants from some rowdy American fans down at his end of the stage. Pat ate up the attention and mockingly deflected it with a couple of "Who, me?" waves, until Jeff, eager to start the next song, looked down the line with mock disdain at the whole interaction and asked, "Are we done yet?" It was pretty funny, but maybe you had to be there.


And as further evidence Jeff and his bandmates were feeding off the crowd's energy toward the end of the show, they tacked on a closing I'm A Wheel to the end of the show, which wasn't on the printed setlist but is always a sign that the vibe in the room is sufficiently good enough to keep the rocking momentum going for a few more minutes.


Earlier in the set, Jeff himself had done the usual playing off of the Night 2 crowd versus its Night 1 counterpart but ultimately expressed his gratitude to be back in Australia and be back in Melbourne. "You guys are so much better than that audience last night," Jeff observed about about halfway through the show. "They were really terrible. Just awful. Obviously that's a joke. It's actually much the same group, the same cross-section of humanity. But we do love being back in your country, in this beautiful town. I don't know why it's been so long, but it's not gonna take as long until the next time so, uh, don't go anywhere."


From a setlist perspective, we got 14 different songs (out of the 24 songs played on Night 2) that were not played on Night 1, including two — Shouldn't Be Ashamed and Dawned On Me — that made their débuts for this Australian run (Jeff joked about Nels' white double-neck Jerry Jones guitar he uses on Dawned that "I can't believe that got through customs.") What I'm curious about, as we head into the third and final show in Melbourne, is if the Australian audience will finally get to hear the premiere of another song or two from Cousin, such as, I don't know...Meant To Be...which, after all, the band made a music video for and promoted fairly actively ahead of this tour.


All will be revealed on Night 3, I suppose. And heck, maybe we'll also even be lucky enough to actually get Monday on a Monday for once. C'mon Jeff, is that too much to ask?


Here was the complete setlist, as played, for Night 2 in Melbourne (I'm A Wheel was not on the printed list, but was added as the final song of the show):


Infinite Surprise

At Least That's What You Said

Handshake Drugs

Story To Tell

Cruel Country

I Am Trying To Break Your Heart>

One Wing

How To Fight Loneliness




Impossible Germany

Jesus, etc.

Shouldn't Be Ashamed

Dawned On Me

Heavy Metal Drummer>

I'm The Man Who Loves You

The Late Greats

A Shot In The Arm


Falling Apart (Right Now)

Red-Eyed And Blue>

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

Outtasite (Outta Mind)

I'm A Wheel

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Personally, i think the 2nd was better than the first. its only a matter of opinion, but i think the setlist was better on the 2nd night. it did feel like it went longer, but its was actually a couple of minutes shorter!


i had a sore back, so i was sort of hoping they would skip Spiders for that night. the floor was vibrating during that on the first night! . oh and with the wave to sing along, he said it was an open invitation to sing , NOT to come up on stage "We dont want you up here!"


Let's what they have in store tonight for the final one. the venue does have an 11pm curfew, so they wont be able to extend it any further

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Well of course the second night was better than the first for you @froggie- you were standing next to ME tonight!! 
(Great meeting you and sharing the rail there!!). 
Railing vs boothing is a no-brainer. Gimme that pogo-friendly rail anytime, especially once Outtasite kicks in. 
I didn’t catch any lyric flubs, but there was a very rare Nels sour note on one of his more prominent non-improv solos (don’t recall which) where he definitely plucked a squeaker and got that look on his face like he just passed gas in church.  There was no hiding it. He looked over at Jeff and the band expecting some kind of reaction - Jeff was looking the other way but I think I saw Glenn crack a knowing smile. It was quite priceless. 
I did love the setlist change ups, and the barn burner encore is always a treat. Leaving a Wilco show with burning feet and calves that are beyond protesting is what it’s all about. You know, just Being There. 

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Awesome gig!

The Forum is my favourite venue in Melbourne and it was so good to see Wilco back there.


It was an intense start to the show. I haven’t really got into the album version of Infinite Surprise but it was brilliant live. Then more heavy jamming on ALTWYS. When Jeff got the acoustic out after that, my friend said to me “he probably wants a break after all that” but of course it turned to be Handshake Drugs and another epic, monster jam. It’s one of my top 5 Wilco songs and this outing did not disappoint. In many ways Wilco remind me Neil Young and Crazy Horse when they go on these extended instrumental adventures. The playing has so much feeling to it, never about showing off but about creating a certain atmosphere or evoking certain emotions in line with the melody/lyrics.


After 3 songs of electric intensity it was time to take a breather with 2 CC songs which were great to hear. I’m glad they didn’t overlook that album for this tour.


As mentioned above, some funny banter from Jeff. The David Lee Roth schtick was hilarious.


I loved the sequence of Loneliness, Cousin and Hummingbird. That was a perfect example of what an astoundingly talented band Wilco is, a band capable of playing any style of music at any time. Loneliness was a beautiful, tender performance with some really nice acoustic playing from Jeff. Then suddenly rocking out with Cousin and follow that with a crowd pleasing mid tempo singalong of Hummingbird. I don’t know too many other bands who can shift gears so effortlessly within in the space of a few mins.

Nels’ solo on IG seemed to go on forever but it was a breathtaking display of his skill. On that note, it was so fun to see Pat get his own moment in the spotlight on Falling Apart.

After Falling Apart, it was a breathless run to the finish line, each song started right after the next with the band seemingly going for maximum impact. I wondered if Jeff was being semi serious that the crowd seemed a bit subdued compared to the previous night and so they wanted to lift the energy by just smashing out the encore…..although obviously it helps that all those songs are such fan favourites.


All in all a great night out. My only disappointment was no songs from OTJ or Star Wars…but maybe next time.

Wish I was going tonight for the 3rd show. I’d imagine a lot of folks have gone to all 3 gigs so there may be even more set list changes.


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8 hours ago, visions said:


Wish I was going tonight for the 3rd show. I’d imagine a lot of folks have gone to all 3 gigs so there may be even more set list changes.


There'll be a full report soon, but there quite a few (11, i think) songs that werent done on the first two shows.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Great review @bebop! This was my first ever Wilco show, and I travelled from New Zealand especially for it. I’ve been waiting soooo long for Wilco to come to New Zealand and figured this would be as close as they’d get for the foreseeable future. I lined up early and was at the railing right in front of Jeff. For those there I was the “active” one (at least those near made that comment to me after the show). The show exceeded my expectations by quite a margin, and it was great to know I was there with the biggest fans (as this was the original Melbourne show before more were added after it sold out). The Forum was a superb venue. I was fortunate enough to be given Nels’ set list and pick at end of show. The following night I was the first to spot Nels at end of the wait queue, and got to chat to him briefly, plus the obligatory photo opportunity. Treasured memories for sure.

A few weeks prior to my departure I picked up a ticket to Melbourne night three, which was also amazing (meeting Nels as mentioned above) But your first Wilco show is always the #1.

I’m new to Via Chicago forum and very glad to have found it.



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