Wilco is enjoying the holidays with a much deserved break from their very busy touring schedule. The band will begin their West Coast swing on January 19 at The Fillmore in Denver. This past October, fellow HT contributor DaveO dissected Wilco’s fall tour setlists for a closer look at how the band crafted their shows. With Wilco’s “Incredible Shrinking Tour” of Chicago in the books, I wanted to take a similar look at the setlists that Wilco crafted for their five nights in the Windy City.
Historically, Wilco has always favored smaller venues in Chicago. The only exception was their sold out two-night run at the UIC Pavilion in 2009. While this obviously leads to a lot of ticketless fans, it definitely allows for intimate shows. Wilco played to approximately 9,120 people over the five nights and had not played three of the five venues previously.
Over the five shows, Wilco played 100 different songs with each show averaging 28.6 songs. Three of the band’s formal sets featured 19 songs while two featured 20. Each of the shows contained a double encore with each of them varying in length. The longest first encore was at Lincoln Hall with nine songs. The shortest encore was at the Civic Opera House with five songs. The second encore varied in length from one to three songs.
Wilco did a great job of mixing the setlists up over the five nights. If you take a look at this breakdown, it’s very evident that Wilco was trying very hard to make these shows as special as possible. While the song selection didn’t quite reach the level of the 2008 Winter Residency, the band did a fantastic job of mixing in the classics with some choice rarities from throughout their 17 year history. If you take a look at the songs that were played more than once, it is predominantly songs from The Whole Love and some classics.
While it was to be expected that the one-timers would trump the songs that were played at multiple shows, but to this magnitude? I will say that I was a bit surprised at the amount of one timers, yet there was no way that Wilco was going to play five cookie cutters shows in their hometown.
5 Times: Art of Almost, I Might, Born Alone, Dawned on Me and Whole Love
4 Times: Capitol City
3 Times: One Sunday Morning (Song For Jane Smiley’s Boyfriend), Rising Red Lung, War on War
2 Times: Misunderstood, I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, One Wing, Box Full of Letters, A Shot in the Arm, Heavy Metal Drummer, Red-Eyed and Blue, I Got You (At the End of The Century), Open Mind, Hummingbird, Outtasite (Outta Mind), Spiders (Kidsmoke)
1 Time: Poor Places, Impossible Germany, Far, Far Away, What Light, Jesus, Etc., Pot Kettle Black, Candyfloss, I’m the Man Who Loves You, Outta Mind (Outta Sight), Cruel to Be Kind, You Are Not Alone, The Weight, Less Than You Think, Black Moon, Bull Black Nova, Side with the Seeds, You Are My Face, I’m Always in Love, Handshake Drugs, Can’t Stand It, Via Chicago, The Late Greats, Walken, Just a Kid, Monday, Reservations, I’m a Wheel, Hell is Chrome, Muzzle of Bees, Hotel Arizona, Radio Cure, At Least That’s What You Said, Say You Miss Me, Wilco (The Song), Hesitating Beauty, Summer Teeth, Standing O, A Magazine Called Sunset, Nothing’severgonnastandinmyway(again), Hate It Here, You Never Know, Theologians, Casino Queen, Kicking Televison, Hoodoo Voodoo, The Lonely 1, Sunken Treasure, Wishful Thinking, Company in My Back, Ashes of American Flags, Shouldn’t Be Ashamed, Either Way, How to Fight Loneliness, Too Far Apart, I’m Always in Love, ELT, Kingpin, Dreamer in My Dreams, One By One, In a Future Age, Country Disappeared, When the Roses Bloom Again, Why Would You Wanna Live, Car’s Can’t Escape, At My Window Sad and Lonely, Someday, Some Morning Sometime, Laminated Cat, Dash 7, Remember The Mountain Bed, You and I, I’ll Fight, Someday Soon, Airline to Heaven, Passenger Side, It’s Just That Simple, California Stars, On and On and On
Wilco played at least seven songs from each of their eight proper studio albums. The band also performed material from both Mermaid Avenue albums and some other odds and ends from their extensive catalog. They played every song from The Whole Love with the exception of Sunloathe, which has yet to make its live debut. I’m not quite sure why they haven’t played the song live, but I know fans would love to hear it. You can check out the breakdown by album below.
A.M. – 9
Being There – 16
Mermaid Avenue – 5
Summerteeth – 11
Mermaid Avenue Vol. II – 3
Yankee Hotel Foxtrot – 11 (Entire album)
A Ghost Is Born – 12 (Entire album)
Sky Blue Sky – 9
Wilco (The Album) – 7
The Whole Love – 11
Other – 10
Guests and Covers
Nick Lowe wrapped up his six-week tour with Wilco at the Civic Opera House. As he had most of the tour, Lowe emerged during the encore for a version of his own Cruel to Be Kind. As Lowe left the stage, Chicago gospel legend Mavis Staples came out for You Are Not Alone, the title track from her Grammy award winning, Jeff Tweedy-produced album. The band had one more treat for fans on the opening night of the run. Mavis Staples remained on stage and Nick Lowe was invited back for a fantastic cover of The Band’s The Weight. Wilco performed the song with Levon Helm at this year’s Solid Sound Festival.
The rest of the shows featured opening acts with deep roots in the Chicago music scene. Eleventh Dream Day, Jon Langford and Skull Orchard, The Paulina Hollers and Portlandia star Fred Armisen opened the remaining shows. I was actually surprised that Wilco didn’t incorporate any of the guests into any of the shows with the exception of Armisen, who added percussion to I’ll Fight at Lincoln Hall.
I compiled all of the song data with the help of Wilcoworld. Wilco has most of their setlists archived on their site, going all the way back to their first show in 1994. What made the process easier is the pie chart at the bottom of each set that breaks down each song by albums.