This post marks the confluence of 2 significant milestones. It was on this day 7 years ago that The Adios Lounge first went public. Happy birthday, Adios Lounge! You don’t look a day over 5. I was actually happy to labor in obscurity in those early days — as opposed to my current brand of near-obscurity — because I felt like I had to learn how to write about music in a way that differentiated me from the common 99%. I think I’ve done that. Some posts are better than others, but I’m proud of my work for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Preservation Society. The key, I found, is to have one foot in the door and the other foot in the gutter. Trust me, this is science.
That brings me to my other milestone. Though it took me 35 years, I finally saw The Replacements. I never saw them during their ’80s hayday — of course I went there — because I was busy being a lame-ass. I could’ve seen them on the All Shook Down tour, but Chris Mars had just quit, and I didn’t wanna see the replacement Replacements going through the motions. “Yesterday’s trash too bored to thrash” is a great line, but I didn’t wanna experience it firsthand. That sentiment remained steadfast until the Mats played Coachella last year. I did not attend the festival, but I’d been hearing almost so many positive reviews about the reunion gigs — with the notable exception of Coachella heh heh — I promised myself that if The Replacements ever played a club show in LA, I’d go.
Fast-forward to the middle of last week. The Mats played 2 nights at the Hollywood Palladium, Wednesday (4/15) and Thursday (4/16), and I went to the second show. Good Lord it was worth the wait. The band gave an awe-inspiring performance, one for which I was unprepared, to be honest. The setlist was perfect (see below), the band was focused, Paul Westerberg‘s voice was spot on (ragged but right), and there was a tangible sense of “Can you fucking believe this is happening?” pervading the Palladium. It wasn’t just me imagining a great show, it was happening in real time, and the whole joint knew it. There was a run at the start of the set, from “Little Mascara” through “Waitress In The Sky,” where I felt like I was curating the setlist personally.
April 16, 2015
01 I’m In Trouble
02 Kissin’ In Action (w/snippet of Sabbath‘s Iron Man)
03 Little Mascara
04 Color Me Impressed
05 Love You Till Friday
06 Maybellene [Chuck Berry]
07 Treatment Bound
08 Take Me Down To The Hospital
09 Waitress In The Sky
11 Achin’ To Be
12 Kiss Me On The Bus
14 I Will Dare
15 Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out (w/snippet of Hendrix‘s Third Stone From The Sun)
16 Sixteen Blue
17 The Ledge
18 I’ll Be You
19 Whole Food Blues
20 Can’t Hardly Wait
21 Bastards Of Young
22 My Boy Lollipop [Millie Small]
23 Never Mind
Encore 1: Paul solo w/acoustic guitar
24 Ghost On The Canvas
26 Left Of The Dial
27 Alex Chilton
28 I Want You Back [Jackson 5]
Hootenanny is my favorite Replacements album and “Take Me Down To The Hospital” my favorite song. So, to hear “Color Me Impressed” AND “Treatment Bound” right before “Hospital” … I’m still in disbelief. Not ashamed to say that with those jagged opening chords to “Hospital,” I did a jumping David Lee Roth karate kick off the back staircase and landed with a windmill air guitar. Sure, maybe 7 beers and a handful of ludes had something to do with it, but in my defense, “TAKE ME DOWN!!! HOSPITAL!!! TAKE ME DOWN!!! HOSPITAL!!!” Say what you will about reunion shows, the freewheeling, punk rock spirit of Bob Stinson was alive and well.
The whole night felt like that. There were maybe 2 songs I’d trade out of the whole set. It was anthem after anthem after brilliant deep cut. Even the songs I was pretty sure they were gonna play — “Can’t Hardly Wait,” “Left Of The Dial,” “Bastards Of Young” — when I heard the opening notes I was transported to Christmas morning. “OHMYGOD BASTARDS OF YOOOOOUUUUNGGGG!” [Kirk Gibson fistpump] That Paul faceplanted the lyrics to “Bastard” didn’t even matter. No clams or flubs — and there were a few — meant a thing because The Replacements owned not just the stage, but the whole goddamn building. I actually feel a little sorry for everyone who’s ever seen the band before because I’m pretty sure I saw their greatest performance. Of course, I’m sure every longtime fan who’s seen these shows has felt the same way.
Incidentally, you know that very first Adios Lounge post? I held back a tidbit of information about it. While it was little more than an introductory piece, I included 3 songs by a single band to represent my new beginning. Who was this mystery band? The Replacements, of course. “Takin A Ride” in mp3 and a killer video of “Customer” and “Rattlesnake” from 1981. Full circle, baby.
Below are a couple highlights from the show. Granted, nothing can possibly top being in the moment, but I like that these clips are out there. Beyond the compressed 1s and 0s and amateur, handheld recording technique, there is still genuine magic.
Replacements – Left of the Dial
“Pretty girl keep growin’ up, playin’ make-up, wearin’ guitar
Growin’ old in a bar, ya grow old in a bar
Headed out to San Francisco, definitely not LA
Didn’t mention your name, didn’t mention your name”
Whatever concern you may have about The Replacements selling out (it’s 2015, grow the fuck up) or them not being as good without Bob Stinson (not really true given what I saw), these songs need to live and breathe. The idea that “Take Me Down To The Hospital” or “Left Of The Dial” should gather dust because a Replacements reunion doesn’t pass some misguided punk rock litmus test is bullshit of the highest order. The audience was dying to hear these songs. I know this because they’re screaming along here as if they’d been holding their collective breath for 25 years and were finally able to exhale. The other thing I love is Paul’s knowing, “don’t take it personally” smirk at the “definitely not in LA” line. That’s pro.
BTW, is Paul playing one of those clear, plexiglass Dan Armstrong guitars Keith Richards has made semi-famous?
Replacements – I Want You Back/I.O.U.
The final 2 songs of the night (aka Encore 3). The Mats mess around with a little Jackson 5 before launching into a blistering “I.O.U.,” which I’ve discussed before and which is best exemplified by Tommy’s “Fuck Yeah!” face at 2:14. If there’s one thing about The Replacements that has been underrated since the band’s inception — and “I.O.U.” shows this in spades — it’s that Paul Westerberg is one of the great rhythm guitarists in rock ‘n’ roll history and an underrated lead player.
For all of the drunken stumblebum mythology, this was a historically great performance — punctuated at the 5 minute mark with Paul hurling his Gibson SG 20 feet off-stage. Punk fucking rock. And with that there wasn’t a drop of gas left in the tank, especially mine.
I’ve put together a YouTube playlist of nearly every song from the April 16th Palladium performance in sequential order. Video quality varies wildly, often within the same song, but as a set of flawed documents I’m fine with them.
God bless you, Replacements. God bless us all.