Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Replacements Played The Festival Pier at Penn's Landing w/ Superchunk, J Roddy Walston and The Business (Who we missed), 5/9/15 (PHOTOS)

Tommy Stinson and Paul Westerberg

Leave Them Wanting More

I'd seen The Replacements three times in my life: August 20th, 1989 at The Garden State Arts Center in support of Tom Petty; March 7th, 1991, headlining The Beacon Theatre; and June 22nd, 1991, at Madison Square Garden in support of Elvis Costello just a few weeks before they called it quits. CoolMom and I saw Paul Westerberg together at The Fastlane on August 7th, 1993 and in Seattle, probably at The Showbox, sometime in 1996. I never saw The Replacements' original lineup, and Paul Westerberg is one of my idols.

When Paul and Tommy Stinson announced in 2013 that The Replacements would get together to play some reunion shows, I saw the people who said it was just "half of The Replacements" or "Paul, Tommy, and some other guys." Give me a break. Bands alter their lineups all the time; and Westerberg himself has said of his old songs, "I look at them as my songs that I wrote, even though Tommy and Bob and Chris played with me." Put me anywhere where Paul Westerberg is playing Replacements' songs, and I'm a happy guy. Add in Tommy Stinson on bass, and I'm floored. Just like last night.

CoolMom and I had big plans for the day of the show. We were going to maybe head to Philly early and spend the night. Leave the kids with my mom. When it dawned on us, though, that the show was happening on the night before Mother's Day; we deicided that having the kids wake up without their mom around and having their grandmother wake up to take care of them until we got home wasn't in the spirit of the day. We left for the show, after a full day of activites, at around 5.

Outdoor shows are so early. Curfews and all. Even though our tickets said 7:30, by the time we got into the venue at around 7:35, we'd already missed J Roddy Walston's entire set. Bummer.


Superchunk came on at just about 8. Jason Narducy is still filling in for Laura Ballance, who suffers from a hearing condition called hyperacusis, on bass during the band's live performances. The tight time schedule and the fact that many were there to see The Replacements for the first time in over 20 years meant a very short set for Superchunk -- about 30 minutes. Mac McCaughan was his usual hyper-kinetic self, and the rest of the band gave it everything they had as well. Jon Wurster has to be one of the most animated drummers I've ever seen, smiling and mouthing the words all the way through the set. They managed to hit most of the highlights like "Driveway to Driveway," "Detroit Has a Skyline," "Learned to Surf," "Precision Auto," "Me & You & Jakie Mittoo," and "Slack Motherfucker." They were great. I could have used more.

Soon after 9pm, the lights went down; and Paul, Tommy, drummer Josh Freese, and guitarist Dave Minehan walked onstage to a huge ovation. They opened with "Takin' a Ride" from 1981's Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash, and the dudes around us launched into a singing / screaming frenzy that would last the whole show. The band also did "I'm In Trouble" from that early record later in the set; and Superchunk, during their own set, did acknowledge The Replacements for being ahead of them in proclaiming, "I Hate Music" way back on that record.

The Replacements

There were a few surprises during the set. Outtakes / bonus tracks like "Kissin' In Action" (All Shook Down outtake) and "Wake Up" (Don't Tell a Soul bonus track) made the setlist. The band did covers of Sham 69's "Borstal Breakout" and -- not really a surprise, but still fun -- Barbie Gaye's "My Boy Lollipop."

A couple of spontaneous moments had me smiling. At one point, a fan requested "Hold My Life" from the front row. Westerberg pointed them out and noted that they'd been requesting the song for several shows straight. "We don't know it, but we'll try it." Then, turning to Tommy, "...the one with the seven-and-a-half bar change." The version that came out was about as flawless as you'd ever expect from the band. Later, Westerberg gave the crowd a choice between "Seen Your Video" and "Androgynous."

"Both?? At the same time?? Sure. Why not?"

Stinson and Freese played "Seen Your Video," while Westerberg and Minehan played
"Androgynous." Weird, discordant, and funny. At the end of it, they launched into a proper version of "Seen Your Video;" but, sadly, the moment had passed for the full "Androgynous."

The rest of the set hit a bunch of favorites: "Favorite Thing," "Little Mascara," "Kiss Me on the Bus," "I Will Dare," "Can't Hardly Wait," "Bastards of Young," and more. Westerberg playing Hootenanny's (and Say Anything's) "Within Your Reach" while seated on the drum riser was a nice moment.

"Never Mind" closed the main set. Two encores consisted of "Left of the Dial" / "Alex Chilton" and "Unsatisfied," respectively. Everything was done by about 10:40.

It was a great night. Bob of GayGuy/StraightGuy joined us for the evening. CoolMom danced and sang in front of me, my hands on her waist or her shoulders. We ran into lots of friends. But, I'll be honest. When The Replacements were done, CoolMom and I looked at each other and said, "That's it??" The Replacements played 25 songs over the course of a set that spanned their entire career and that lasted over 100 minutes. We still wanted more out of them.

I guess that's our problem. It's our problem for loving a band so much that we would have sat there for hours listening to them. They did exactly what a band is supposed to do for a crowd. The Replacements lifted us up. They gave us part of themselves and delivered a fantastic show. They left us wanting more.

Can't wait for the next time.

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