Bob Mould at the Bluebird Theater, 4-21-13 (review)By Michael Behrenhausen | April 22nd, 2013 | 2 comments
“Is it loud enough for you? Is it fast enough for you?” These two questions were among the few words spoken to the capacity crowd by the legendary Bob Mould on Sunday evening at the Bluebird Theater. For all in attendance, the answers were, most definitely, yes. And yes.
A palpable sense of giddy, nostalgic excitement bounced off the walls before, during and after the blistering, career-spanning perfomance by Mould and his band. The reason? This marked the first time in many years that Mould has performed in Denver with a rock line-up. The other reason? The trio, rounded out by bassist Jason Narducy and drummer Jon Wurster (of Superchunk!), would perform a furious set of material celebrating Mould’s impressive, most recent solo work “Silver Age.” They also played classics from his previous bands, the ’90s guitar pop outfit Sugar and the influential and brilliant ’80s hardcore juggernaut Hüsker Dü.
To the delight of the crowd (who skewed mid-30s and up), the set kicked off with the first five tracks to Sugar’s masterful “Copper Blue.” But in this trio’s hands, confections like “The Act We Act,” “Good Idea” and “Changes” were melted down into high-voltage, high decibal workouts of Mould’s masterful songcraft.
Following this, Mould took a brief moment to introduce his bandmates, both of whom had performed on “Silver Age.” Then he quickly turned up his guitar and led them into a series of tracks from the album including: “Star Machine,” a hyper take on “The Descent,” and the chugging “Steam of Hercules” which segued into Sugar’s “Come Around” and “Your Favorite Thing.”
The group then relentlessly upped both the tempo and the volume as they dove into gems from the Hüsker Dü catalog starting with “Could You Be The One?” and the undeniably catchy classic “I Apologize,” illiciting loud-sing alongs and even louder cheers.
Narducy and Wurster tirelessly kept up with the dervish-like Mould who viciously attacked his Fender Strat. At certain points his incendiary runs up the fretboard drew cries of joy from the crowd. After an extended take on “Chartered Trips” from Hüsker Dü’s 1984 masterpiece “Zen Arcade,” the band exited the stage leaving fans with a swirling wall of looped feedback from Mould’s amplifiers.
They returned quickly for two encores that included “Keep Believing” (from “Silver Age”), the Sugar hit “If I Can’t Change Your Mind,” and an ear-bleeding, heart-pumping finale of Hüsker Dü’s “Celebrated Summer,” “Something I Learned Today” and “In A Free Land.” In the end, Mould stood alone on the edge of stage to wave goodbye and offer his thanks to the roaring crowd. And judging by the earnest smile that cracked through his modest demeanor, the cheers were indeed loud enough.
Michael Behrenhausen is a Denver-based writer, musician and regular Reverb contributor. The worst crime he ever did was play some rock ‘n’ roll.