Wednesday, 23 December 2009

672 BOB MOULD, Youth Group, London Mean Fiddler, Tuesday 6 September 2005

I can't believe I nearly missed this one! After Bob's last CD, which was smothered with and spoilt by unnecessary electronica, the announcement of a one-off show wasn't exactly a huge enticement. However Tim did some digging and found out this was a full-on rock show featuring numbers from Bob's old bands, Sugar and Husker Du. That swayed me! Rachel was busy so it was Tim and myself setting off at 1/4 to 6, driving all the way in and parking up in gentrified Cafe Society Charlotte Street, round the corner from the venue, at 1/4 to 8. This meant we missed a chunk of support Youth Group; what we heard was nice enough, countrified Americana, not a million miles removed from the likes of Gin Blossoms or Creature Comforts. A couple of good numbers, but not enough to sway me to buy their record.

I'd not heard Bob's new one either - the previous "Modulate" being such a mess, so I waited to be impressed from my stage-right spot in this rapidly filling venue. Bob and the band sauntered on at the appointed hour, the first shock being that Bob, previously a man-mountain, looked lean and fit, with a white five-o'clock shadow which gave him the impression of Santa on his day off! And sure enough he brought us presents, plugging immediately into a strident "The Act We Act", the opener of Sugar's timeless "Copper Blue" album. Other Sugar numbers "A Good Idea" and the wonderfully growling, menacing "Changes" followed, by which time I was in the moshpit, eschewing my damaged ankle for some vital, venomous yet tuneful vintage American punk rock.

Bob wasn't the only lean thing here - the performance, ably backed up by a young and obviously passionate band, was lean, mean and totally lacking in extraneous frills, allowing Bob to give full rein to his full, low howl of a voice, and his solid, expressive riffery. Prowling around the stage like a caged tiger, Bob bashed away for all he was worth. Inevitably, though, the pace and tempo dipped as a clutch of newies - good, but paling in comparison to the opening triad - were debuted. Then an almost jolly "Hoover Dam" was followed by a quite awesome "See A Little Light" from his "Workbook" album, still one of my all-time faves. Wow! A heart-cracking "Hardly Getting Over It" preceded a frantic "Could You Be The One", and there was still time for a clutch of Husker Du numbers at the end of the set, "Celebrated Summer" climaxing a superb hour. Encores included "If I Can't Change Your Mind" and "Egooverride", before "Makes No Sense At All" and a sinewy "Man On The Moon" drew a remarkable resurrection to a close.

"Thanks, we've had a lot of fun tonight," said Bob as he left the stage, the grin he wore throughout much of the set being reflected by everyone here, including myself as I emerged, soaking, from the mosh. Totally failed to blag a set-list (something about "settings", hmmm...) but this didn't detract from a trip down memory lane resulting in a notable comeback. Welcome back, Bob!

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