A Tribute to the Replacements at First Avenue and 7th Street Entry, 11/23/12

Categories: Last Night
Photo By Erik Hess

A Tribute to the Replacements
First Avenue and 7th Street Entry, Minneapolis
November 23, 2012

This year's 5th annual tribute to the Replacements took on an added level of importance as the fun-filled celebration of the music of the 'Mats also turned into a benevolent fundraiser for their ailing former guitarist Slim Dunlap. And while Slim's continued struggle to recover from a stroke earlier this year cast a bit of a pall over the proceedings, the raucous songs of the Replacements kept everyone in both the Mainroom and the Entry in fine spirits, as did all of the bands who used their rousing sets to show just how much the 'Mats music means to them.

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The night started in the Mainroom, as Jim Walsh's Mad Ripple Hootenanny, which was originally scheduled to take place in the Entry, was moved to the big stage. And it's a good thing it was, as the collaborative, talented group paying tribute to Slim's songs eventually swelled to 12-members strong at the finish, with Dan Israel, Martin Devaney, Terry Walsh, Nick Leet, Ben Glaros, Curtiss A, and others sitting in at one point or another. "Times Like This," the smooth singalong of "Cozy," and the impassioned closer "Partners In Crime," all were packed with extra feeling by musicians who were truly singing and playing for a dear friend, getting the night off to a strong, emotional start.

Photos By Erik Hess

The action stayed in the Mainroom as the night's host and one of the event organizers Dave Campbell joined Story Of The Sea for a lively, Don't Tell A Soul-heavy set. Starting with a bouncy version of "Talent Show," and a boisterous take on "Color Me Impressed," the guys really caught fire on "Achin' to Be," "I'll Be You," and a terrific take on "Left of the Dial," perhaps a subtle nod to Campbell's day job with the Current.

Things in the Entry heated up for the first time with the young Minneapolis band Blue Ruin, who delivered a short but explosive set which was aided by the intimate confines of the room and the buzz starting to build in the swelling crowd. "Raised In the City" and "Shiftless When Idle" both sounded rowdy and raw in one of the rooms where the 'Mats first made their name, and their set closed with a vehement take on the song that gives this blog it's name. They introduced "Gimme Noise" by saying, "This is the song we know the least, and it's also the most punk rock," and the emerging group did it justice with an unruly version as the audience responded in kind.

The Belfast Cowboys gave the 'Mats material a soulful, bluesy touch, with earnest versions of "Hold My Life," "Portland" and the first of a few different times we'd hear "Kiss Me On the Bus" throughout the night. Walsh and company also wisely included a zydeco-flavored version of "Busted Up," a Slim song that Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson recorded for the upcoming Replacements benefit EP for Dunlap, which proved to be a nice touch and rounded out their lively set well.

Photos By Erik Hess

The Fattenin' Frogs, led by the 4onthefloor's Chris Holm, injected plenty of soul and roots into the 'Mats material, augmented by the elegant voices of the three female backup singers. "I Will Dare" took on an extra bounce, while "Take Me to the Hospital" and "Bundle Up" were both drenched in an upbeat, dusty Americana sound that removed some of the ferocity of the originals, but didn't take away too much of their spirit.

It was clear at this point that some bands were taking chances and liberties with the Replacements' material, which is the point and process of any good tribute night. And in the end, some performances worked better than others. Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles brought a countrified twist to the 'Mats songs, and coming at the point in the evening when the crowd was getting a bit loose, their rather hushed interpretations didn't find much of a spark. Understated takes on "Sixteen Blue," "Androgynous," and "I Will Dare," while elegantly performed, lacked the fire that was needed as the night wore on.

Red Daughters also suffered from that same lack of intensity, as slowed down versions of "Can't Hardly Wait," "Sixteen Blue," and "Alex Chilton" simply meandered a bit. But at least the engaging band was keenly aware that they were taking some liberties with the songs, joking that "We've made a couple of revisions to these songs, and if you don't like it you can fill out a comment card at the back of the club." You have to give both Red Daughters and Lucy Michelle credit for trying something new and different with the overly familiar music of the 'Mats, even if it didn't fully resonate much in the end.

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