Wilco — 11/8/11, Frankfurt, Germany (Alte Oper)
From the outside — and I suppose I’ll try to post a picture when I get back home because words don’t really do it justice — the Alte Oper doesn’t look like a place that Wilco (or any other rock band) should be playing. If I knew more about architecture, I could describe it in more detail but suffice it to say that the place looks, well, grand. Actually, I think Alte Oper merely translates to “old opera house,” but you get the point.
Inside, it’s not quite as posh as its exterior might have you believe. The main hall itself more closely resembles modern, wood-paneled auditoria that I’ve seen in Spanish cities rather than some of the beautifully restored, ornately decorated old theaters with plush seats in which I’ve seen Wilco play. But nonetheless, the setting wasn’t necessarily the most conducive to a rock concert.
And for more than half the show, those in attendance pretty much behaved like they were at an opera or other high-brow cultural event. The crowd was, as Jeff put it, “polite.” I saw it around me, with the man to my right sitting with arms and legs crossed for much of the show and the young couple to my left displaying almost no reaction at all (c’mon, not even a toe tap…really?). Only after a rousing “Impossible Germany” did a small pocket of people behind me rise to their feet to give Nels a standing ovation, which Jeff duly pointed out to the rest of the band (and audience).
So overall, it had the makings of one of those kinds of shows, despite some good head-bobbing relative rarities like “Kamera” and “I’ll Fight.” After the latter, I guess Jeff couldn’t help but comment. He said he could understand that some of Wilco’s more “delicate” music might lend itself better to sitting down but, looking down at his setlist, “that music’s been played already.” Then, while stopping short of actually telling the crowd to stand, Jeff nonetheless communicated his belief that to really “feel” rock music, you needed to stand up. Needless to say, most people finally got the message.
From that point on, it felt more like a proper Wilco gig. And even though there were only a handful of songs left in the set by that point, I can report that they were definitely some of the highlights of the night.
Not much other banter to report than the above, but it was nice to see that Jeff seemed to be feeling much better than the previous night in Basel. He was moving around a lot better, seemed to have more color and wasn’t even sporting what has become his trademark hat. For the record, however, I have no idea if the latter was related to his improved condition.
Here was the complete setlist, as played:
One Sunday Morning
Art Of Almost
At Least That’s What You Said
Impossible Germany (started and restarted)
Dawned On Me
Box Full Of Letters
I’m The Man Who Loves You
A Shot in the Arm