Concert Review: Bob Mould Perform's Sugar's Copper Blue (Live at Metro - Friday, 9/14/12 in Chicago)

Concert Review: Bob Mould Perform's Sugar's Copper Blue (Live at Metro - Friday, 9/14/12 in Chicago)

Friday night, Bob Mould wrapped up the second of a two night stand at Metro playing Sugar’s seminal 1992 album Copper Blue in its entirety along with cuts from his latest record Silver Age and tracks from throughout his career both solo and with Hüsker Dü…

Bob Mould has never been the type of artist to look back… But in the last few years, he surprised longtime fans releasing an autobiography that was several years in the making along with a renewed interest in his nineties work with indie rock, power trio Sugar.

Mould’s work with Sugar, specifically the Copper Blue album, has been some of his most recently popular work and in the last few years it hasn’t been uncommon to hear some of that material performed in his live sets.  That said, it was still a bit surprising when it was announced that he would tour performing the ’92 album in its entirety.

Mould’s profile hasn’t been higher than it is right now since the early nineties.  A mutual admiration with and opening dates for Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters certainly hasn’t hurt but even moreso, that relationship seems to have also rekindled Mould’s passion for the guitar.  The new Silver Age album is one of his more rocking and critically acclaimed affairs in some time.

I’ve seen Bob Mould solo and with band several times but what I love about the idea for this tour is his ability to look back without pandering, exposing his audience to solid new work in addition to a revisit of the Sugar material and more.

Friday night’s show followed a sold out set at Metro on Thursday and kicked things off with Copper Blue side one, track one, “The Act we Act.”  From there, Mould and company (Evanston native, Verbow alum and Split Single frontman Jason Narducy on bass/backing vocals and Superchunk’s Jon Wurster on drums) plowed through the album with nary
a pause, giving it new life in the process.

What struck me immediately was just how much fun Mould seemed to be having.  He bounced across the stage like someone half his age throughout the night and bared quite the
grin as he repeatedly moved to his right to jam with Narducy.

To say this band has gelled is an understatement as each member had their moment to shine.  For Wurster, that moment was on the Sugar ballad “If I Can’t Change Your Mind,”
which he transformed from mere ballad retread to anthemic punk anthem with his propulsive drumming.  Narducy took center stage later in the night on the Hüsker Dü classic “I Apologize” where it wasn’t just his bass but his outstanding backing vocals, harmonizing with Mould, that solidified the performance.

The Copper Blue set was good.  “The Slim” followed “Hoover Dam” and while not one of my favorite album tracks, it certainly allowed Mould’s vastly underrated guitar playing to shine.

Powering through that album in forty-five minutes left plenty of time in the eighty-five minute set for material both new and older.  Three straight from Silver Age kicked off with “Star Machine” and saw Mould at his most animated of the night.  From 2005’s Body of Song came an excellent rendition of “Circles” but the highlight of the encore came as Mould requested of the crowd “Someone tape this and make sure to send it to Rick!”  That was a nod to Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen as the band tore through a raucous cover of Cheap Trick’s “Downed.”

“I f---ing love Metro… You know that.” said Mould as the show drew to a close.

Anyone who’s read his book See a Little Light:  The Trail of Rage and Melody or is remotely familiar with his story knows it hasn’t always been easy for Bob Mould to
embrace the past.  But Friday, as he made his way from the Metro stage taking a final moment to bask by himself in the spotlight and standing ovation from the nearly sold out crowd, it was clear Mould was moved.  It was special to see one of the architects of alternative rock getting his due by looking back and yet forward in a way few are capable of pulling off.

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    Jim Ryan

    Jim Ryan has written about music in print and online for a variety of Chicagoland publications for over fifteen years. In addition to duties filling in as Traffic Anchor on CLTV or in the helicopter on NBC 5, you can also catch him Sunday nights at 6PM central as host of "The Rock N' Roll Radio Program" on AM 1420 WIMS and AM 1060 WHFB (streaming at wimsradio.com and via the TuneIn Radio app for the smart phone or tablet). Jim has also worked locally for WXRT-FM, lives within walking distance of the Metro and is an avid White Sox and Blackhawks fan whose first live concert experience came at Comiskey Park in 1984 during the Jacksons' "Victory" tour.

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