By John Curley
Bob Mould’s solo electric tour in support of his 2019 album Sunshine Rock pulled into The Iridium in New York City’s Times Square for two shows (at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.) on Wednesday, January 29th. The legendary alt-rock singer-songwriter and former Hüsker Dü and Sugar frontman was in fine voice at the 10 p.m. show. While many veteran performers change their style as a concession to age, Mould has not. His live show is as full of fire and ferocity as it was back in his days with Hüsker Dü. The show was something of a career retrospective for Mould, including songs both old and new as well as some so new that they have not been recorded yet.
Mould kicked off his energetic 75-minute set with a rousing version of “The War” from his 2014 Beauty & Ruin album. He was bounding all over the stage when he was not required to be at the microphone. He then tore right into a frenetic and fantastic version of Hüsker Dü’s “Flip Your Wig,” the title track to the band’s 1985 album. Another Hüsker Dü song, “I Apologize,” followed, and it was outstanding, featuring Mould barking out the lyrics while playing some terrific slash-and-burn guitar. Mould did a good lead vocal on an excellent take on Sugar’s “Hoover Dam” that received a big hand from the crowd. The highlight of the show, an astounding and ferocious version of “Stand Guard” from his 1990 Black Sheets of Rain album followed. It featured a powerful vocal and incendiary guitar work by Mould and was given a big cheer from the audience. Mould kept up the energy level in the room by going right into “See A Little Light” from 1989’s Workbook album, which featured an outstanding vocal and great playing. The crowd cheered Mould’s frenetic vocal and playing on his version of Hüsker Dü’s “Celebrated Summer.” And Mould bounded around the stage during the guitar break in “The Descent,’ much to the delight of the audience.
Mould spoke the crowd a bit between several of the songs. He said that 2020 felt to him, as a gay man, like 1984. And he added that he is no longer afraid, like he was in his early 20s. He discussed the political situation in America and implored everyone in the audience to vote in November. Regarding the current state of America, he offered this take: “There ain’t no emergency glass left to break.” He talked a bit about the time that he has spent in Berlin in recent years. And he mentioned that at a recent show, an audience member took exception to his between-song political comments. Mould then made the Iridium audience that same offer that he had to the fan who took exception to his comments. He said that if anyone had a problem with what he was saying and wanted to leave, he would double what they paid for their ticket. No one took him up on it.
The unrecorded songs performed at the show were quite good. One ended with the lyrics “We’re going to war / And we’re going to die.” All of the new songs received a nice reception from the crowd. He also played part of a new song that he joked sounded to him like The Scorpions.
Other highlights of Mould’s set included a short and sharp take on “Sunshine Rock,” the title track of his latest album; a frenetic and powerful “Hey Mr. Grey”; and an absolutely outstanding version of one of Sugar’s finest songs, “If I Can’t Change Your Mind.”
Mould closed the show with two songs that appeared on a 1985 Hüsker Dü single. He provided a great vocal and terrific playing on a version of Sonny Curtis’ “Love Is All Around,” a song best known as the theme for The Mary Tyler Moore Show. And he ended with a terrific “Makes No Sense At All,’ that featured frenetic playing and a strong vocal. The crowd then cheered loudly as Mould said his goodbyes and left the stage.
The current leg of Mould’s solo electric tour ends on Saturday, February 1st in Tarrytown, NY. The second leg of the tour will take place in the last third of March. Full tour dates can be found at https://bobmould.com/#tour.