Bob Mould played Irving Plaza last night. Oh. My. God.
Mould, along with Grant Hart, made up most of the hugely influential and revered post-punk band Husker Du, which slammed out of Minneapolis in the early 80s.
[The band was named for a Scandinavian “Concentration”-like memory board game briefly popular in the 70s. Said game is remembered mainly for its peculiar and opaque Euro-flavor TV ads. Think Mentos commercials.]
Husker Du means, “Do You Remember?”
Did I ever! Last night Fugazi Fan and I remembered a freezing snowy night in ’86 with Husker Du boiling up the mosh pit at Irving. And their final tour in ’87, at the Ritz. I remembered being tossed off the edge of the mosh pit like a piece of flotsam, my then-Olive-Oyl-like build no match for the crazed and beefy boys smashing around in the center.
Bob hadn’t played any Husker in a long time. Did HE Remember? He did come out on tour last year, and for the first time in probably a decade played a coupla Husker tunes and stuff from his second band, Sugar. And last night he did it again.
Stupendous. Opening with newer stuff, Mould built giant slabs of guitar brilliance, submerging the melodic lines beneath frenzied layers of speed and bass. His unmistakable vocals, mixing anger, hope, rue, passion, and white-hot energy, was too hoarse for the softer songs at the end. No matter.
“I Apologize” is still one of the most satisfying bitter no-apology breakup songs ever, and the band just screamed off the charts on the rest of the material. A huge “Celebrated Summer” led to the classic “Divide and Conquer”, its lyrics still resonant today:
“It’s not about my politics
Something happened way too quick
A bunch of men who played it sick
They divide, conquer
It’s all here before your eyes
Safety is a big disguise
That hides among the other lies
They divide, conquer. . .”
By the time they opened the second encore with “Chartered Trips” from Zen Arcade I was beyond bliss.
Thank goodness I was beyond the mosh pit, too. But not the memory. Screaming, speed, intensity, brilliance. Ahh.
Here’s the set list, thanks to twi-ny.com:
The Act We Act
A Good Idea
I Hate Alternative Rock
See a Little Light
I Am Vision, I Am Sound
Your Favorite Thing
Again and Again
Can’t Help You Anymore
I Apologize (Husker, from New Day Rising)
Celebrated Summer (Husker, from New Day Rising)
Divide and Conquer (Husker, from Flip Your Wig)
If I Can’t Change Your Mind
Chartered Trips (Husker, from Zen Arcade)
Makes No Sense at All (Husker, from Flip Your Wig)