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Wilco — 18 March 2024, Melbourne, Australia (The Forum) [Night 3 of 3]

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If there's any ground rules about seeing Wilco live that I could impart from years of experience, one of them surely would be don't miss any nights of a multi-night run if at all possible. Or at least do so with the understanding that you're almost certainly going to miss out on some gems from the catalog and an increasing simpatico both within the group and among the audience. I think perhaps those who turned up at the venerable Forum in Melbourne the past few nights began to appreciate some of that as the band completed its first-ever three-night run in Australia since it began touring here back in 2003.


With the opening two-fer of Misunderstood and War On War to kick off Night 3, neither of which had been played either of the first two nights, you knew that Jeff and his bandmates intended to continue shaking things up at least somewhat for the benefit of those who had already come to either or both of the previous shows. And while it perhaps didn't end up as wildly different a set as it could have been, there were still by my count 10 songs total (of 24) played on the third night that hadn't been performed either of the first two.


Showing that he was at least a bit sensitive to this sort of thing, Jeff took a moment about two-thirds of the way through the set to reiterate how much the band had enjoyed its time in Australia and in Melbourne, in particular. "We've had a great time in your country, and in your city" Jeff said. "We've got a little time left, but not here." Then before starting Box Full Of Letters, he asked by a show of hands how many people had been to at least one of the shows before tonight. When apparently less hands went up than he expected, Jeff quipped, "Oh OK, that's not too bad. That makes me feel not so bad about playing this song for the second time in three nights."


He might have thought twice about it had he known that the "Pat! Pat! Pat!" chant would once again break out afterward from the group of, ahem, rowdy Americans who took over "the Pat corner" at stage left once again and lavished praise on the Winter Bearded-Wonder after his ripping solo on Box while Pat once again delivered the self-effacing "Oh, stop it!" wave. Jeff, of course, looked over at the scene and deadpanned, "Thank you on behalf of Pat."


Another two-fer of songs, You Are My Face and Either Way, that hadn't been played yet during the run — or on the tour, for that matter — caused Jeff to make another trip to Banter Corner about halfway through the set to say that despite having songs they've played every night, he and his bandmates were still trying to search out "songs we want to play, songs we should play." After Either Way, Jeff added, "We haven't played that one in a while. I broke a nail playing that one for you."


If one was going to nitpick anything about Jeff's attempting to build rapport with the Australian audience, one might point toward his custom during I Am Trying To Break Your Heart of swapping out the "hello" in the "What was I thinking when we said hello" lyric to something amenable to the local crowd. For instance, in Mexico, he would usually switch the "hello" to "hola." Makes sense, right? In Australia, however, Jeff has routinely failed to switch the hello to either a "g'day" or as he did tonight, switched it to "how you doing?" instead of the "how you going?" which I think is a dead giveaway of American-ness.


I'm sure there were other nits to pick here and there — maybe a slightly worse sound mix than the night before? — but how much can you really say when a band tries so hard to satisfy so many different aspects of its wide-ranging audience?


Not that Jeff and his bandmates really needed to ingratiate themselves with the local audience any further than they already had with a three-night run, but their Night 3 encore probably took care of any lingering loose ends. First, when they returned to the stage, Jeff reminded the audience to "tip your bartenders" and pointed out that the ones working the bar at stage left were wearing Wilco T-shirts. "That's very unusual for us," Jeff said. "Bartenders are usually upset when we play." Then, in an apparent nod to a request by someone at local record store Greville Records (whose T-shirt Pat was wearing all night underneath his blazer), the band honoured a request by playing a rollicking version of A Lifetime To Find — for the first time on Australian soil — to kick off the extra session.


And then Jeff and Co. made good with virtually the entire crowd when they launched into a raucous Monday (on Monday!)/Outtasite combo to close out what was — taken together — truly a terrific trio of performances over these lovely three nights in March. There was no I'm A Wheel to be added to the setlist on this night and I'm secretly glad because I think I might have passed out otherwise (though I probably would have risked it for Kicking Television). But in any case, it was a lovely end to a fun time. Glad to be able to make it back to Melbourne after so many years, and to see some old friends, renew some acquaintances and make some new ones so far from home.


Here was the complete setlist, as played, for Night 3 in Melbourne (there were no changes/omissions from the printed list):



War On War

I Am My Mother

Cruel Country

Handshake Drugs


I Am Trying To Break Your Heart>


Company In My Back



You Are My Face

Either Way


Box Full Of Letters

Jesus, etc.

Impossible Germany

I'm Always In Love

A Shot In The Arm


A Lifetime To Find

California Stars

Falling Apart (Right Now)


Outtasite (Outta Mind)

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Paul  is right. missing one of these 3 shows in melbourne would definately make you kick yourself, cause you're bound to miss out something special. some of the songs played on the 3rd nighjt, even Jeff admitted that they haven't played in ages. i think there were 11 new tunes from the night before and i think it's  a total of 44 different ones that they played over the three nights. I'm always in love was an unexpected highlight that the aced through


i cant decide if the 2nd or 3rd nights were the best shows, but it really finished on a high. both band and audience really looked like they were really enjoying themselves. i'm sure if there was a 4rh, it too would have sold out like the others. they did have about 5 minutes left till the curfew, so they could have snuck in The Lonely 1 or something to finish the residency off, but oh well..


Nels even came out beforehand to speak to the people in the line for a moment. Pat seemed to get the most attention from the audience. jeff even joked about it as if to say to us "are you finished?" and jeff was looking at him with pride quite a few times.


jeff said it wont be another 11 years till they come back again, so hopefully sooner than later!

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I posted this over in the Facebook group but will also post it here for posterity, slightly edited from Facebook to account for the fact I got the story slightly wrong initially there. And it was great to meet you Paul, hope to see you out here again before another 11 years passes without a Wilco tour in these parts!
Last night's Wilco show in Melbourne was something special for many reasons, but especially this one - BT from Love Police was in the booth next to us (tour promoter), and we were in the booth with Warwick from legendary Melbourne institution Greville Records, they're good friends and BT's favourite Wilco song is Either Way which he clearly convinced Jeff to add to the setlist. Before it comes on he walks over to our booth and says I need to come in for this one, sits next to Warwick and they're embracing each other in total rapture of what's happening on stage, it was such a cool moment.
Then at the end of the main set BT disappeared backstage and comes back just as the encore starts and gives Warwick the finger point to say 'I've got you buddy', and they play Warwick's request of Lifetime To Find. After the song Jeff says that one was a request, and asks Nels for confirmation, Nels says 'someone from the record store', Jeff says 'which record store, Greville? that one?', pointing at Pat's t-shirt who has been wearing a Greville t-shirt all night under his jacket but at this point had taken his jacket off and pointed to his t-shirt. 'You can buy our records there'. The smile on Warwick's face at this point was priceless. I asked Warwick after if he knew that was going to happen and he said he had no idea. It was another special moment to end a very special run of shows in Melbourne.
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I was there! We'd come over from Adelaide for the third night. This was the first time I'd seen Wilco in *checks notes* ...21 years. Over a decade ago, I regularly pass on making the trip over to the eastern states thinking: "Oh, they'll include Adelaide on the next tour..or the one after that." After passing us again on the 2013 tour, I was ready to commit to a Melbourne or Sydney trip, not knowing that it would be over ten years before they'd dip down to the Antipodes once again. I really feel for New Zealand and Perth who missed out completely.


I thought it was an excellent gig. Jeff seemed really upbeat and the band were clicking perfectly. An absolute thrill hearing "Company In My Back" live. I do find it a little odd that Cousin material is being relegated to 3-4 songs a night, because hearing songs like "Levee" live really makes me want to hear "Sunlight Ends" and "Ten Dead" out in the open.


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14 hours ago, Blackberry Rust said:


I thought it was an excellent gig. Jeff seemed really upbeat and the band were clicking perfectly. An absolute thrill hearing "Company In My Back" live. I do find it a little odd that Cousin material is being relegated to 3-4 songs a night, because hearing songs like "Levee" live really makes me want to hear "Sunlight Ends" and "Ten Dead" out in the open.



Really looking forward to seeing them in Sydney tomorrow and Friday night.  A a bit surprised they're not playing more from Cousin,  particularly Meant to Be or Soldier Child which are both bangers that would sound great live I think.  

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