Bob Mould at the Woman's Club Assembly, 3/4/14
|Photo by Tony Nelson|
with Paul Metzger
Woman's Club Assembly, Minneapolis
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Most albums don't age well. It's just a fact. Even if it's an album you love, it likely still sounds dated. Tuesday night at the Woman's Club, however, Bob Mould played much of his 25-year-old solo debut, Workbook, along with a smattering of other material from his substantial back catalog and made what amounted to closing arguments in the case for him being recognized as one of the greatest living songwriters.
Opening with the weird, lovely "Sunspots," Mould -- who was clad in a Minnesota-emblazoned T-shirt -- and bassist Jason Narducy and cellist Alison Chesley quickly rolled into "Wishing Well." It was already apparent the ex-Hüsker Dü/Sugar principal fashioned such a fantastic, pliable, yet sturdy set of songs for Workbook, that they translated to buzzsaw amplification seamlessly and took on a bit of a new sheen in the process.
As the set progressed with a wrenching version of "See a Little Light," it was clearly not going to be a by-the-numbers, front-to-back treatment of the album. Just a few songs in, Mould threw the first curveball, with "Stand Guard" and "Stop Your Crying, both from 1990's Black Sheets of Rain. The surprises continued with "No Reservations," a song from his days in Hüsker Dü, all the while looking like he was having the time of his life.
|Photo by Tony Nelson|
The band got back to the immediate matter at hand with "Poison Years" and "Brasilia Crossed With Trenton" highlighting another magic trick, just another of several Mould managed during the Workbook song cycle. These songs have aged much the way human beings do, growing somehow more complex, more contradictory, more knowing. It's seemingly impossible, as the lyrics have not changed and songs, in a broad sense, are static entities, yet it could not be denied. The sadness and conflict apparent on every note of Workbook never became quaint or hokey. Instead, it became simply more human.
"Sinners and Their Repentances" was next, followed by "Lonely Afternoon." The latter was possibly the only song that lost a bit in translation to electric. Its quiet nature, which could sound almost whispery at low volume, simply washed out a bit plugged in. "The Descent" from 2012's Silver Age dovetailed nicely with all the nostalgia, proving that Mould has written songs in a way that's somehow timeless. He threw in "Walls in Time" from 2008's District Line for good measure, explaining that it was actually an outtake from Workbook.