Friday, March 14, 2008

I Say He's A National Treasure, Schee...

I escaped the bunker last nite to catch Bob Mould's NYC's Irving Plaza* gig. Bob's doing what I am told is his first full-on full band tour in a decade. This time around his band consists of longtime Mould protégé Jason Narduccy on bass (former co-leader of the oh-so-Sugar-y Verbow), Deep Dish bud/remixer extraordinaire/club maven Richard Morel AKA Pink Noise on keys plus fellow former hardcore superstar Brendan Fraser (of the tragically mothballed Fugazi) pounding the skins. How was it you ask?


I think I've seen Bob 10 times in various incarnations over the years -- tho' prolly not in a decade or so. Since Hüsker Dü's '87 drugs/alcohol/ego/tragedy-fueled implosion (I believe the resulting crater can still be seen from space with the nekkid eye), Bob's built an impressive arsenal to call his own. I hadn't paid much attention to all things Bob lately. I hadn't heard his new album. I didn't know who was in his band. I was hopeful but wary. I burnt offerings & mumbled prayers that the gods of sound would favor our cause.

Fuck. Me.

Bob didn't just show up with his best band ever. No sirree. Bob & friends played a veritable fistful of Hüsker hits! Bob & co. dusted off a sixer of Sugar shanties too -- a full fucking half of Copper Blue! In fact, when all was sung and done, Bob's career-spanning 21-song two-encore set featured precisely two songs(!) from the brandy new District Line. (An aside to Mrs. Forester: You may be right. "Miniature Parade" is growin' on me).

I was woefully unprepared for this onslaught of Mouldy-goodness. If I had known, I would have packed a spare pair of skivvies. They would've come in handy 'cuz The Bobster gang roared relentlessly through a main set consummated by a deuce off HüDü's New Day Rising: "I Apologize" bursted into "Celebrated Summer". It veered on pleasantly overwhelming for all, Bob included.

Know this. Once upon a time -- I'm talking waaaaay back when Bob & I both still had little hair -- we chatted a coupla times at shows and during at least one interview. I found Bob to be not so very dour after all. Listening to his music you'd never know it. For this reluctant godfather of emo's mainstay is tapping into rage and sadness at their most primal levels. By its very nature the Bob Mould Concert Experience doesn't lend itself to witty on-stage banter, rock star smirks, collective group hugs and the like.

So as we basked in his reconnection with the cream of his canon, I was amused to catch intense ole Bob repeatedly & consciously catching himself right before he cracked a grin. And why the hell not grin? Those of us not on-stage were all in and went all-out from the sec he broke out "A Good Idea" at song #2. Together we forged our way thru 14 more angst-filled anthems 'til we reached that terribly rarefied spot where performer and performees simultaneously strike the Catharsis city limits. And we hadn't even made it to the goddamn encores!

Alas, the show's best moment kicked off its last: the first wig flipping chords to HüDü's "Makes No Sense At All". Walking off-stage Bob was visibly moved and seemingly shocked at our fervent gratitude for his gift. With the last note still ringing in our ears, we spilled into the streets our hearts full and our energies spent.

Shorter version: If Bob Mould is booked in your town by any means necessary GO! If he isn't, fer chrissakes get your ass to somewhere he is playing. It'll be good for your soul but bad for your ears.


Buy Bob Mould solo here. Workbook is 100% ASIAF-approved.
Buy Sugar here. Copper Blue is 100% ASIAF-approved.
Buy Hüsker Dü here. All but the first two are 100% ASIAF-approved. If I hadda pick just three I'd hafta snag New Day Rising, Zen Arcade and Candy Apple Grey.

*Note: I refuse to call Irving Plaza by any other name. Who in the name of Bill Graham's great ghost came up with this bright idea? The one and only NYC rock 'n' roll Fillmore, The Fillmore East, was 11 fucking blocks away in a completely different neighborhood! Live Nation's marketing dopes are tripping (and at least in their mid-60s) if they truly believe the "Fillmore" brand has a speck of name cachet with their core customers or anyone else after a 35-year absence.

All who do remember the real Fillmore - East should be be offended by this corporate identity theft. But then again they'd at best go to Irving Plaza a scant handful of times in their lives. No name change will make them attend more frequently. Calling the joint Hitler's Haus wouldn't keep them from queuing up for a dwindling chance to see Dylan, Santana or Dolly in club setting either.

++++Update: I cribbed last nite's set list from Palimpset & sprinkled lil' discog bits on it...

"The Act We Act" – Copper Blue Sugar
"A Good Idea" Copper Blue Sugar
"I Hate Alternative Rock" Bob Mould solo
"See a Little Light" – Workbook solo
"Hoover Dam" – Copper Blue Sugar
"I Am Vision, I Am Sound" – Body of Songsolo
"Hanging Tree" – Black Sheets of Rain solo
"Miniature Parade" – District Line solo
"Your Favorite Thing" – File Under Easy Listening Sugar
"Again and Again" – District Line solo
"Circles" – Body of Song solo
"Paralyzed" – Body of Songsolo
"Can’t Help You Anymore" – Copper Blue Sugar
"I Apologize" – New Day Rising HüDü
"Celebrated Summer" – New Day Rising HüDü
"Divide and Conquer" – Flip Your Wig HüDü

Encore #1
"Moving Trucks" – Last Dog and Pony Show solo
"Egoverride" – Bob Mould solo
"If I Can’t Change Your Mind" – Copper Blue Sugar

Encore #2
"Chartered Trips" – Zen Arcade HüDü
"Makes No Sense at All" – Flip Your Wig HüDü