Friday, August 2, 2013

Nurse the Hate: Bob Mould

Last night Bob Mould brought his tour to the Beachland Ballroom here in picturesque Cleveland OH.  This was a show I had circled on the calendar for months as Mould’s music, whether in Husker Du, Sugar or on his own has always resonated with me.  I have probably listened to some of those Husker Du records once every couple months for over two decades.  His latest recording, “Silver Age” is especially outstanding and his been in heavy rotation for me for months.  Mould is one of very few that can write a savage song that will rip your head off while at the same time placing it in a sugary memorable hook that seem to come effortlessly for him.  He's a great songwriter with a very singular style.   

The amazing thing about his career is that he has written songs like this consistently from the mid 1980s.  “Silver Age” stacks up favorably against 90s modern rock radio hit “Copper Blue” as well as 80s college radio staple “Flip Your Wig”.  The stuff is all good.  It’s a testament to his commitment to his art that he has continued to produce such quality songs while also taking forays into other forms of music along the way.  Put more simply, he has never given up.  He has forged on.  Fashions and trends have come and gone, but he stubbornly remains. 

If you think about his contemporaries from when Husker Du broke out, it becomes even more impressive.  In terms of Minneapolis, he outlasted them all with even Prince becoming irrelevant.  Paul Westerberg of the Replacements has fallen off the map, seemingly afraid to compete with his own legacy.  Soul Asylum?  Run Westy Run?  Suicide Commandos?  Did I forget someone?  Even the bands that Mould influenced that had more commercial success than him haven’t had the staying power.  Frank Black was never able to rekindle the flame of the Pixies.  Jesus and Mary Chain and pop punk bands of that ilk are on the reunion festival circuit. Come up with whoever you want.  They just can't stack up.  Throughout it all, Mould has continued on with determination and adherence to his vision.  He is going to do what he does.  

The show last night was great.  Mould is now 52 years old, and looks 52 years old.  I like the fact that he is a paunchy guy in a plaid shirt and glasses with thin gray hair that ripped everyone’s fucking head off with an energy that bands decades younger should take as a template.  It was LOUD, just like it was supposed to be and the vocals were often lost in the din.  That didn’t matter to me or most of the others at the crowded show, as we all knew the songs by heart anyway.  The entire catalogue was represented in the set with hits from Sugar, current solo work, a nice “Black Sheets of Rain” song, and almost anything you would want to hear from Husker Du.  Hell, I never thought I’d hear “Something I Learned Today” from Zen Arcade.  Thanks Bob.  That was nice.

A special mention should go out to the rhythm section of bassist Jason Narducy and drummer John Wurster.  Those two guys are total ringers.  I challenge you to find a better rock rhythm section than those two guys.  With Mould’s penchant for steamrolling from one song to the next, those two got a helluva workout.  They are always right in the pocket. It has to be a blast for Mould to play with those guys.  They leave him plenty of space for him to slash his guitar runs in there.  Just a terrific band.

As the songs moved from one to another, I would get hit with memories of listening to some of them.  “Celebrated Summer” on my Sony Walkman while walking up the hill by the Music and Speech Building at Kent during Summer Session, realizing that it was in fact my Celebrated Summer.  “A Good Idea” in my black Acura Integra driving down the Flats on a rainy afternoon.  Morosely listening to “The Hanging Tree” on my porch in Lakewood in a cold fall rain.  Weaving through traffic last week with “The Descent”.  This music has always been there for me since I was 18.  To hear it delivered forcefully in one sitting like yesterday was awesome.  In a world where disappointment is the norm, and the past is always romanticized, Mould showed something rare.  His past was great, his present is better than most anything else out there, and his future is sure to be interesting. 

That was the way to spend a Thursday night.


At August 2, 2013 at 2:45:00 PM EDT , Blogger Frank said...

Infectious joy. Thanks for sharing.

At August 4, 2013 at 10:24:00 PM EDT , Blogger Dave L. said...

Glad I could be there with ya brotha.


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