When the Bryant-Lake Bowl announced that ex–Hüsker Dü, ex-Sugar frontman Bob Mould was playing a solo show in the venue's ninety-seat theater, his fans collectively furrowed their brows, cocked their heads, and said, Huh? We then rejoiced at the idea of seeing Mould, a historical figure in local music, playing in such an intimate setting.
The evening was a DVD-release party for his first fully authorized live concert video, Circle of Friends.
Though Mould hasn't lived in Minnesota for years (he currently resides in Washington, D.C.), his Twin Cities fan base spans from longtime Hüsker Dü followers (now forty-something), to Sugar listeners (thirty-something), and newer fans of his solo work and Blowoff, his house-music venture (twenty-something).
All of these groups were represented at last night's show, which started off with an interview by Current DJ Mary Lucia, followed by a brief round of audience questions. With such a long and varied history, there was a lot of ground to cover.
Mould almost directly referenced his Hüsker roots when Lucia asked him this loaded question: "How important is it for you to shape the chemistry of those people [with whom you play]?" To which he answered, "Well, I have done that before." Lucia came back with, "You have?" and everyone shared a slightly uncomfortable laugh.
Mould was upbeat and relaxed, and clearly enjoyed appearing at such a small venue, one that allowed him to connect with the audience both during the Q&A and the performance that followed.
He talked about the importance of reconciling his past in order to play some of his old music. "I don't want to try to sound like that," he said. "The beauty of the band [on the DVD] was not trying to sound like what those other bands were. It sounds like what the four of us sound like."
Likewise, the fifty-minute solo set he performed between the Q&A and the DVD screening didn't sound like those other bands, it sounded like Bob Mould. The setlist was a mix of songs Mould originally wrote for Hüsker, Sugar, and his subsequent solo work—all played on acoustic guitar, turned way up.
Clearly, taking a song written for a punk rock trio and arranging it for a solo performance with acoustic guitar ensures that it's not going to sound like the original. Every song was beautifully performed, from Sugar's "Hoover Dam," originally released in 1992 on Copper Blue, to a song he said he wrote last Wednesday called "I'm Sorry Baby, But You Can't Stand In My Light Anymore." However, because it was one man onstage singing and playing one guitar, there wasn't much variety in how the songs sounded. His tempos and vocal range were similar from song to song, translating into a solid show that plateaued, but didn't have a strong peak, per se. That said, the highlight of the evening, and the song that we in the audience hollered about the most—in turn feeding him energy—was his spirited "I Apologize," from Hüsker's 1985 New Day Rising.
After an enthusiastic set of twelve songs, the DVD, which was released the day before, was screened in the theater. Meanwhile, Mould retired to the BLB's bowling alley, where he signed posters and DVDs, and posed for pictures with fans.
See A Little Light
Hear Me Calling
Hardly Getting Over It
Again and Again
A new one that Mould said will appear on the record after 2008's District Line. Lyrics included "It's a lonely road." Anyone know the title?
I'm Sorry Baby, But You Can't Stand In My Light Anymore
If I Can't Change Your Mind