It took a January 2018 ‘Mats tribute to finally bring us out of splendid isolation…
The tribute is part of the PRF Monthly Tribute Series, brought to you by an array of folks from the Premier Rock Forum ( hence, PRF). And while I could blather on about what the PRF is and does (or does not do), I’d rather just let the series (especially this one) speak for itself.
I’m partial to “Hey, At Least We’re Not Social Distortion” — this could have been an outtake from Paul’s 49:00… Of Your Time Life. Oh and “Wake Up” — more humor here. And actually, the cover of “All Shook Down” just rocks, what a surprise!
Paul Westerberg and Slim Dunlap perform during The Replacements’ last show, Taste of Chicago 1991. Photo courtesy of Bob Ingrassia
Tommy Stinson and Steve Foley during the Replacements’ last show in 1991. Photo courtesy of Bob Ingrassia.
The band during a rainy Riot Fest Chicago 2013 soundcheck. Photo courtesy of paulwesterberg.net
Tommy and Paul during Riot Fest Chicago 2013. Photo courtesy of Eric Hess.
Flannel shirts. Skunky, shitty beer. The blues. A bit of folk. A bit of country twang. Mismatched used car salesmen suits. Honesty. Attitude.
The Replacements are a Midwest band — there’s no denying it. So it’s probably no surprise that one of The Mats’ largest fan bases lies roughly 400 miles southeast of Minneapolis in the City of Big Shoulders — my hometown — Chicago. As The ’Mats gear up for a two-night stint at The Riviera — their first club show in Chicago since the early ’90s — let’s look at the boys’ connection to the Windy City:
Chicago was the first major city to catch on to The ’Mats’ infectious blend of punk, rock, country and the blues (New York came second, my friends).
Just-slightly-left-of-the-dial Chicago radio station WXRT (93.1FM) was one of the first US radio stations to actively play The Replacements. Their long-standing, late-night show The Big Beat was where I first heard The ’Mats on the radio. No coincidence then that ’XRT is sponsoring the 2015 shows at the Riv!
Chicago is the birthplace of the electric blues, home to Chess Records. As Paul Westerberg said in a ’96 interview: “I approach my rock and roll or pop music the way someone else would approach blues. I try to keep it as bare, simple and real to life as possible. Because my true desire, my dream in life—which I have never before revealed—is to be the greatest blues guitar player in the world. There, I said it.”
The band essentially broke up in 1991 after their Taste of Chicago gig. See below.
Listen to this live Chicago shit:
The Replacements 1984 at the Cubby Bear Lounge
Why you should listen: Their blistering, bluesy version of “Take Me Down to the Hospital.”
The Replacements Chicago Radio Interview 1987
Why you should listen: The DJ indulges the band by playing Sonny Boy Williamson’s epic Little Village.
The Replacements “last” show in 1991 at the Taste of Chicago
Why you should listen: Their roadies close out the set! The band breaks up.
Yeah, so we’re one week away folks. The Replacements play Portland’s Crystal Ballroom Friday, April 10. I can’t hardly wait.
I’m pretty sure the last show The ’Mats played was Austin City Limits in October 2014. Paul wore overalls and frequently played while laying down on a hammock (click on the above link if you haven’t already). The band was tight, just as they have been since kicking off their reunion tour over a year ago.
Some ’Mats fans still doth protest these reunion tours. “It’s not The ’Mats, Bob’s gone,” they’ll say, or “They’re just in it for the money, fuck this reunion shit.” When I first heard they were doing a festival circuit back in 2013, I kinda had the same reaction. I was really skeptical—most reunion tours suck, frankly. Also, my affection for festivals began and ended after the first Lollapalooza. So, I held out hope for a ’Mats US tour of small clubs.
Then I watched the festival mayhem unfold online. Holy crap, did I miss out!
It began with Riotfest! in Toronto and ended at the aforementioned ACL Fest. What a run! I mean Jesus, did they play a shitty show? You tell me—I wasn’t there. Heck, I even watched them play Jimmy Fallon online (I’d share that clip but NBC has removed it).
Why are they so good (again)? Some idears:
It looks like Paul and Tommy are having fun again (a lot of fun).
Dave Minehan on guitar. The guy fucking rocks. Check out his first band, The Neighborhoods.