Saturday, 27 February 2016

Bob Mould @ Manchester Academy 2 on 7.2.16‏

Since reverting to raw power trio mode with the superlative "Silver Age" Bob Mould has really been on a roll doing what he does best: great catchy tunes high on emotional content surfing waves of guitar noise that most bands would need two or more guitarists to equal. I never saw Husker Du play a gig so its nice that he's recently been playing some of their songs, although I don't think there were any oldies in the set that weren't also played last time in Manchester. Bob looked as though he was really enjoying himself, dispatching songs in quickfire trios, much like Husker Du used to. "A Good Idea" indeed. No need to make some "Changes" as "I Apologize" sound a great blast from a past full of so many classics he could have played for hours!  His thick glasses made his eyes seem to bug out at us, but fashion tips be damned its the songs that matter. Just before standing on the edge of the "Hoover Dam" as he so often does, big eyed Bob asked us all if it was loud enough. It certainly was, but not over-powering like last time in the smaller Academy 3. I took the opportunity of the comedic volume debate to take a piss break and from the toilet the intro to "Hoover Dam" sounded like "Classifieds." Despite a big backdrop with the Bob Mould logo from the hub cap album there were no songs from any but the three most recent albums released under his Mouldy name rather than a band name, although Sugar's "Come Around" offered  a short break from the otherwise frenetic pace.The new songs all maintained the high standard of "Silver Age" and "Beauty and Ruin" although he played maybe just less than half of it. Whilst it would have been nice to hear a few more "Silver Age" songs, it was really those from "Beauty and Ruin" that stood out in terms of the tightness and enthusiasm. "Mr Grey" was my personal highlight of the set and "Kid with Crooked Face" wrong-footed me for a  moment as I mistook it for Husker Du's "Real World." That wasn't in the set, but he finished with extended wild "Chartered Trips" and a headlong dive through "Something I Learned Today" then an encore of three songs from the first Husker Du album I ever heard: "Flip Your Wig," "Hate Paper Doll" and "Makes No Sense at All." That brought him full circle for me, as he finished with the first Bob Mould song I ever heard. If I had to churlishly throw down negative criticism it'd be that a change of oldies might be in order, as he seems to be sticking to a tried and tested few, but right now I'd be more than happy if he keeps touring with bassist Jason Narducy and Superchunk drummer Jon Wurster. However if the past is anything to go on, Bob might soon feel the need to make some changes...

This review was written for Optical Sounds zine.