Last night, singer-guitarist Bob Mould and his touring band played a short but incredibly potent set at the Beachland Ballroom. Pacing around the stage like some sort of agitated caged beast, the 54-year-old Mould tore through a number of his more recent releases alongside more than a handful of nostalgia-inducing Husker Du and Sugar tunes. The trio opened up the set with a driving, aggressive rendition of “Flip Your Wig,” the title track off of the Huskers’ 1985 album and an example of the encapsulated rage and pop melody that Mould has so skillfully learned to weave through his music. It would be difficult to dream up a better way to warm up the already enthusiastic patrons who were already stiffly but excitedly bopping their heads and footlessly dancing by the time Mould, bassist Jason Narducy and drummer Jon Wurster wrapped up their first song.
The band mercilessly rocked through all the nooks and crannies of Mould’s beloved discography, roaring through “Nemeses are Laughing” and “Hey Mr. Gray” (both from Mould’s most recent release, Beauty and Ruin
) with the same vigor with which they churned out a rocked out, blissed out rendition of Sugar’s “If I Can’t Change Your Mind.’’ Mould isn’t much of a talker on stage, favoring a rata-tat-tat song delivery over any kind of stage banter, pounding out song after song alongside Wurster and Narducy, a relentlessly powerful rhythm section. While Narducy managed to bop and weave his way through the show, busting out impressive bass lines to carry Mould’s loud, delicious punk-pop; Jon “the hardest working man in show business” Wurster (of Superchunk fame) endlessly assaulted his drum kit and was absolutely soaked in his own juices by the end of the show.
Towards the end of the performance, Mould whipped out tear-jerker and nearly perfect Husker Du tune “Hardly Getting Used to It,” effectively quieting the crowd. Mould crept his vocal line through the song with all the power and sincerity that he did on the recorded version, released in 1986 on the Husker’s major label debut, Candy Apple Grey
. Once the band had torn through its initial set, even the most passionate fans couldn’t quite legitimize demanding even more of the incredibly physical performance. However, a few moments of residual cheering later, the trio reappeared on stage with a quick but honest disclaimer from Mould about being a little more “laid back” during the encore. And thus began one of the shortest and more effective encores possible. It included a screeching rendition of "Makes No Sense At All" and a hilariously perfect and appropriate performance of Love Is All Around, the Mary Tyler Moore Show
theme song. After everyone in the audience had effectively visualized Mary Tyler Moore’s hat flying into the air, Mould and his band thanked the audience and made their way off the stage.