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

Categories: Last Night
Photos By Erik Hess

Eleganza didn't quite prove to be a rocking enough follow-up to Pink Mink's star-studded set, so most of the crowd waited for the start of the Melismatics-led finale, a straight run-through of the Replacements' classic fifth full-length, Pleased To Meet Me. The band were tight and well-rehearsed right from the get go, handling the big riffs of the record as well as the more understated subtleties of some of the songs. After Ryan and Pony Smith handled lead vocals on the tempestuous opener "I.O.U.," the steady stream of guest vocalists quickly followed, as Eric Pollard delivered an ardent take on "Alex Chilton" and Martin Devaney filled in spectacularly for an ailing Dave T. Nelson on "I Don't Know."

Lucy Michelle fared much better on the loungey swing of "Nightclub Jitters," with Mark Wade deftly switching to stand-up bass while the saxophone part was expertly handled by one of the Belfast Cowboys crew. John Swardson admirably tackled the intensity of "The Ledge," before the running order of the record was interrupted by the playful inclusion of one of the album's B-sides, "Birthday Gal." Phantom Tails' Orion Treon delivered an impassioned take of "Never Mind," while Eleganza's Brain Vanderwerf clutched his PBR tight throughout his pulsing version of "Valentine."

Gabe Douglas gave himself up fully to an untamed rendition of "Shooting Dirty Pool," while Pink Mink's Arzu Gokcen appropriately brought a glass of vino out with her during her take of "Red Red Wine." While the band got things sorted before the next number, the Hold Steady's Craig Finn strolled out onto the stage, making some humorous small talk while the group got ready. "What do you guys want to talk about?" But Finn injected plenty of warmth and sincerity into his vocals during a moving version of "Skyway," which was augmented by the Velvet Lapelles' Eamonn McLain's mournful cello. The graceful, glorious number proved to be one of the night's clear highlights.

Photos By Erik Hess

Curtiss A then took to the mic while a four-piece horn section from the Belfast Cowboys joined a two-piece string section led by McLain for the anthemic album closer "Can't Hardly Wait." After the band left the stage, Campbell returned to speak to the crowd roaring their approval. "You can't really follow that, but y'all want to hear one more song, don't you?" And as we cheered, the Melismatics returned to emphatically close down the night with a venomous take of "Bastards of Young" which put the final exclamation point on a great tribute to the Replacements as well as a heartwarming fundraiser for the great Slim Dunlap.

Critic's Notebook:

Personal Bias: I've been a big fan of the 'Mats since middle-school, and I try to never miss one of these wonderful tribute shows to them, which just get better every year.

The Crowd: A nice mix of old school scenesters and younger fans, as well as local musicians at every turn.

Overheard In The Crowd: "Can I buy you a drink?" "Do you want a drink?" "Let's get more drinks."

Random Notebook Dump: From the moment when I read Craig Finn's tweet about him being happy to be in town for the tribute, I was hoping he would make a guest appearance at the show. But I never expected him to sing "Skyway." It was a truly wonderful version, and gave me yet one more reason to fucking love Minneapolis.

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