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Gig Review: Bob Mould @ Manchester Academy 2, 24th May 2008

Bob MouldThis really should have been done about 2 weeks ago, but we seem to hit blogger-burnout around this time every year, no matter how good our intentions. We are trying though.

In any case, we went down to see Bob Mould at what we thought would be a small gig in the Academy 3 and turned out to be a half-full gig in the Academy 2. Nevertheless, it was an enthusiastic crowd that greeted the ex-Hüsker Dü legend when he emerged onto the stage. About 30 seconds prior to his appearance, The Ledge had leaned over and told me that he would do some Hüsker Dü tracks but I shouldn’t expect anything from his days in Sugar. The Ledge is aware that my first experience of Bob Mould was when Sugar released Copper Blue and that I’m far more familiar with that album than with any of his other output. In any case, The Ledge was mistaken because Bob opened with “The Act We Act” off Copper Blue, following it up with no less than four other Sugar songs, including “Hoover Dam” and “If I Can’t Change Your Mind” over the course of the set.

He also played one of the few older solo songs I know, “I See a Little Light” which is on an old cassette compilation someone gave me when I was at university. It’s acoustic on my cassette, but this was a storming rock number. Most of the songs were storming rock numbers. The 2 or 3 ballads actually lagged quite badly although overall the set was what The Ledge called “relentless” as the band tore through song after song with almost no between-song banter.

It was exhausting to watch but enjoyable as Bob Mould did not stop grinning through the set and the older crowd, obviously fans from his Hüsker Dü days, were ecstatic, if not particularly energetic. The set made me wonder if Bob Mould isn’t the American equivalent of David Gedge – innovative but over time unsurprising, at the early forefront of his indie scene but playing to smaller and smaller crowds of balding men while still producing the same catchy, melodic, jangly rock and intriguing lyrics as ever. Plus there’s something I find extremely appealing about his voice. Bob Mould certainly writes some charming love songs and delivers them with all the emotion of a 20 year old with everything to prove.

When the Hüsker Dü material finally appeared, even to my pathetically untrained ears it was obvious, especially as the crowd finally started moving, rather than just waving their arms and mouthing the words. It was quite a moment, being in the presence of a man who’s been such an influence on a lot of bands I love, watching him play the songs that made him so influential. I’m really glad we were there.

Bob Mould – The Silence Between Us

Sugar – Hoover Dam

Posted by JustHipper on 10th June 2008 at 10:19 pm | comments (11)
File under bob mould,Gig Reviews,gigs,husker du,manchester academy 2,mp3,Reviews,sugar.

CD Review: Bob Mould – District Line (Beggars Banquet)

Bob Mould - District Line
I can’t say I’ve taken much notice of Bob Mould’s career since Hüsker Dü went their separate ways back in 1987. I never really liked his post-Hüskers band, Sugar, despite the fact that they seemed to enjoy much more success in indie quarters than their hugely influential predecessors, and, because of this, I never felt obliged to dabble in his solo work.

District Line is apparently a move back to the guitar-based indie rock that made his name back in the 80s and early 90s, after a couple of forays into techno territory. To these ears it certainly sounds very familiar. Solid opener “Stupid Now” gets things under way with its quiet verses and full-on rock chorus and by the end, Bob’s voice is cracking up under a blanket of warped effects. Epic break-up ballad “Again And Again” finds Bob on compelling form, backed by a wall of acoustic guitars and a mournful cello; it’s possibly the best thing on the album. Elsewhere, “Return To Dust” and “The Silence Between Us” come closest to replicating the sound and urgency of his pre-solo output and, not surprisingly, they are both superb.

On the downside, “Old Highs, New Lows” is a dull MOR ballad while “Shelter Me” is a plodding techno dirge with lashings of ugly vocoder, an effect that is also in evidence on the excellent “Very Temporary” and the upbeat acoustic pop of “Miniature Parade”, though its use on these songs is much more subtle and it doesn’t detract from them.

The album ends with “Walls In Time”, a song that’s been kicking around trying to find a proper home for 20 odd years, which is about as long ago as I last took an interest in Bob Mould’s work. It’s a meditation on the songwriting process and features more multi-tracked acoustics and more mournful cello. It’s a good end to a very good album and, although it won’t necessarily compel me to delve backwards into the Mould solo discography, I’ll certainly sit up and take notice of what he does next.

Bob Mould – The Silence Between Us

Bob Mould – Very Temporary

Hüsker Dü – New Day Rising

Posted by The Ledge on 11th February 2008 at 5:37 pm | comments (5)
File under bob mould,cd review,CD Reviews,district line,husker du,mp3,Reviews.