Last night I got to see Bob Mould for the second time in my life. The show was at Terminal West in Atlanta. It was the first time I had ever been to this place, and I must say it was decorated with some flair. The floor looked brand new, there were two bar areas, and a fancy balcony over the sound board.
Once again, I went with Dave, but this time he bought his wife along as well, who is 26-weeks pregnant! As I stood outside, it smelled a bit smokey, so I was concerned for his wife. But once inside for awhile, the smoke appeared to dissipate, or else it just wasn’t bugging me. We arrived right when the opening act started, and ended up standing at the very back, leaning against the sound board.
The opening act was David Barbe’s new band. Barbe was the bassist for Sugar, and from what I understand, he wanted to leave after their 2nd album and the band went kaput. But obviously he and Bob are on good terms, because this band was not really a good fit to open. It was mostly roots rock, jam band-type stuff. Dave told me he even thought a few members of Drivin’ and Cryin’ might be in the band. There wasn’t a single song that tickled my fancy, but Barbe sounded like such a nice guy that you didn’t want to boo him. Apparently, he has a recording studio in Athens, so perhaps he is only opening the Atlanta show.
True to form, the opener played for about 45 minutes. Before they were even finished, I was ready for my 2nd Redd’s Apple Ale. For only $2, you could buy a Redd’s. It has a 5% alcohol content, comes in a 16-oz can, and was deliciously smooth. What a deal! I had two but I could have drank five.
A little after 10pm, it was Bob’s turn. I kind of knew what to expect because earlier in the day I was looking at setlists online. They didn’t vary as I looked across cities. Just as in these previous setlists, they played the first five songs in order from Sugar’s “Copper Blue”. But right from the start I noticed something odd. “The Act We Act” did’t have the usual plodding pace that I kind of liked. This was a much lively version. I think it may have had something to do with Jon Wurster on drums. It didn’t have that disciplined snare fill (there is probably a name for it) that permeates that song. This was a looser, just like he plays in Superchunk. And while I think Wurster is one funny dude (just listen to “Rock, Rot, & Rule”), I am no fan of Superchunk.
One song went right into another. I don’t think he stopped until after “Hoover Dam”, and that was to introduce the band. And then we never heard a word from him. Again. Seriously. All music with very little breaks.
Now I don’t know if it has something to do with the venue or my ears, but all the songs were sounding almost exactly the same. In fact, when he played Husker Du’s “Could You Be the One”, I didn’t even recognize what it was until about 30 seconds into it. What was making them sound the same (and I had this problem with Redd Kross), is that I could barely hear the vocals. Dave thought the guitar had no punch and it sounded like just drums. I couldn’t quite put a finger on it. Bass sounded like it could have used a boost too.
About 50 minutes in, I honestly started to get bored. I applaud him for playing several songs off the new album “Silver Age”. All artists should play a good percentage of songs from their latest album. (I think Redd Kross may have played no more than 2, and that’s sad considering the strength of THEIR newest album). But there were too many Sugar and WAY too many Husker Du songs. I may be frustrated because I don’t know the Husker Du songs as well, but even so, there was no “See a Little Light” (or ANYTHING off “Workbook”), no “It’s Too Late” (a personal fave), etc. He did play the wonderfully giddy “Egooveride” during the encore, but again, the fuzzy guitar was gone and the pace was upped to match the rest of the songs. And “Come Around” from Sugar? Come on. There’s much better sugar songs than that! Speaking of the encore, the second encore was ALL Husker Du, and if I remember correctly, all from “Flip Your Wig”.
Like the time I saw him in St. Louis playing against a backing track, he seemed to do everything in a very efficient manner. It was all over in 90 minutes.
I honestly don’t think I would see Bob again unless it was either an accoustic show or accoustic and electric. I loved the energy, but the vocal clarity was horrible and in the end, the whole thing left me wanting something completely different.