Friday, April 29, 2016

Bob Mould at Webster Hall's Grand Ballroom

Born near Canada in Malone, New York, Bob Mould moved to the Minneapolis-St. Paul area for college. There in 1979, he formed Hüsker Dü, a highly-regarded punk rock trio that fared only modest commercial success. Hüsker Dü split in 1988, but the band later was cited often as a key influence on 1990s alternative rock, including Nirvana and the Pixies. After Hüsker Dü, Mould sequestered himself in a remote farmhouse in Pine City, Minnesota, having quit drugs and alcohol, and began writing the songs that would generate his solo albums. From 1992 to 1995, Mould led a pop trio, Sugar, with whom he recorded two albums. Mould returned to solo albums in 1996, including an electronics-dominated dance album under the pseudonym LoudBomb (an anagram of his name) while living in New York City. His 13th solo album, Patch the Sky, was released on March 25, 2016.

Mould began his set tonight at Webster Hall's Grand Ballroom with two Sugar songs, "A Good Idea" and "Changes" and ended with five Hüsker Dü songs. Although the set represented some 35 years of his music, it leaned on newer compositions. The performance was not a historical picture book, however, as the songs were reinterpreted to reflect his current wavelength. The songs were played as fast, energetic power pop tunes augmented by a jagged guitar edge, with hardly a breath between numbers. Mould barely spoke to or looked at the audience; in the spare seconds between songs, he turned to his guitar or musicians. Any breaks would have diminished the intensity of the performance. To start the encores, drummer Jon Wurster approached the microphone stand to sing lead on a cover of the Ramones’ "Beat on the Brat" while opening act Ted Leo played the drums. The set ended with a cover of the theme to the Mary Tyler Moore Show, "Love Is All Around," which Hüsker Dü covered in 1985, followed by the other side of that single, "Makes No Sense at All." Only after the musicians walked off the stage were audience members allowed to catch their breath.

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