November 5, 2016
By David N. Lindsey
Photos by Joseph De Leon
Bob Mould Measures Up To His Past
What's a fifty something underground icon to do when your back catalog is so revered it might overshadow your current work? If you are Bob Mould, you don't worry about it. You simply put 'em side by side and let the crowd figure out for themselves that 'now' is every bit as good as 'then'.
Bob Mould and his band took the stage at Trees on Saturday and played a career spanning set that tore the roof off. Opening the set with three songs from his much loved band Husker Du "Flip Your Whig" "Hate Paper Doll" and the trip hammer assault of "I Apologize." Mould and band then up the ante by performing two songs by his underated (albeit more commercially successful) 90's band Sugar. Throwing down a 5 song gauntlet of your most celebrated work, where do you go from there? If you are Bob Mould you dive headfirst into your more recent work and watch the lightbulbs appear over the heads of the audience as the cobwebs of nostalgia get swept out of their eardrums as they realize these songs are as good as anything he's ever done.
Much of the mid part of the set came from Mould's last three return to form albums with emphasis on the latest, "Patch the Sky." Who is he to talk? Seeing as he's the one who blasting guitar histronics are probably what blew the hole in the ozone in the first place. Resembling a hip Donald Pleasence, or your distinguished bespectacled english professor, Mould stomped the stage like a caged wooley mammoth while squeezing out riffs and squalks that showed why he is the Eddie Van Halen of the underground, alternative/120 Minutes crowd. His blistering fretwork would leave the likes of Yngwie Malmsteen scratching their heads "how did he do that?" But Mould is no mere hack virtuoso. He knows how to pick his moments, whether it be a single chord droning chord or blink and you miss it harmonic fret work solo. It is truly amazing the way his voice seems to harmonize with the roar of his guitar. Mould is truly that biggest of oxymorons... a punk rock guitar hero.
The set was one fast rocking number after another. Mould rocks harder than most 20 year olds. When Mould slowed down as he did with "Voices in My Head" from his latest, it was a courtesy to the audience so they could catch their breath and process the breakneck adrenaline rush of the previous songs. Husker Du and Sugar were both guitar, bass, drum trios and Moulds current band is as well. This trio is more than up to the task of replicating, while not imitating classic Husker Du and Sugar songs. Any of the band members have enough energy and presence, to front a band on their own. John Wurster's drumming was tight on the money but still explosive and savage, and his animated facial expressions alone are worth the ticket price. While Jason Narducy is a bundle of energy whose bass playing grounded many a song as Moulds guitar cranked out his trademark shearing walls of sound. Narducy also ws spot on with his harmony vocals doing justice to the melodic vocal harmonies from all eras of Moulds career. This trio is a rock solid unit, a sheer bundle of energy, with joy on their faces and sweat flying everywhere.
Mould mixed in Husker and Sugar songs throughout rest of the night along with more from "Patch the Sky" in an intense flowing set. This was no nostalgia fest, this is an artist who is comfortable his past and confidence in his current work, and isnt afraid to stack them side by side and show that it measures up. To the less hip in the crowd when Mould blasted through the recent "I Don't Know You Anymore" may have asked if it was a Husker or Sugar song. But thats the point they are all Bob Mould songs. Mould polished off the set with Husker Du's "Chattered Trips" and returned to his latest Patch the Sky to close with "Daddy's Favorite" and "Black Confetti." Closing with 2 new songs, instead of better known favorites is a risky venture, but Mould pulled it off.
Then came the icing on the cake. Mould and Co returned with the most unexpected of surprises "Love is All Around" best know as the Mary Tyler Moore show theme song, was a Husker Du B-Side. No Irony here, the song was written by one time Cricket Sonny Curtis who also penned "I Fought The Law," Bob turned this song into the Barn burner it is and just to make sure the Earth was truly scorched he launched into the A side of that single "Makes No Sense At All." That was the song where most people first became aware of Husker Du and Mould. So it was a fitting spectacular way to close a solid set of past and present to end with the B side and A side of what was the begining for most of the fans there.
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