Given the impressive level of quality of the music that Bob Mould has put out during his 30 year career, he is a musician that has nothing left to prove. As a member of Hüsker Dü, he laid the groundwork for some of the most successful sounds in punk, hardcore and alternative rock. His work in Sugar perfected the alt-rock sound that he helped pioneer, and his solo work has evolved from introspective, acoustic-based music to loud rock to electronica, and most recently has combined all of those elements. All of this has culminated into his latest album, Silver Age, a return to the loud, guitar-driven yet melodic rock that few do as well, and has been well-received as a return to form.
I first saw Bob Mould at the 930 Club in D.C. back in 2005, when I had only listened to Zen Arcade up to that point, but that show quickly became my favorite concert of all time (rent the DVD of that show, titled Circle of Friends, via Netflix). Needless to say, when I heard that Mould was returning to 930 to play all of Copper Blue by Sugar to celebrate that album's 20th anniversary, along with Silver Age, I was very excited.
I arrived at the show after the opener and found the place jam-packed with ardent fans of all of Mould's work. He and his band, Jason Narducy on bass and John Wurster on drums, took the stage and launched into "The Act We Act," the first track on Copper Blue. Mr. Mould has managed to recruit two EXCELLENT musicians, and that interplay between them, along with Mould's still-excellent voice and absolutely RIPPING guitar playing, raises the energy exponentially, giving the already-great songs an extra kick that is rare in younger bands. The songs on "Copper Blue" sounded fresh and aggressive 20 years on, and the crowd absolutely exploded when the band jumped into the classic "If I Can't Change Your Mind." One highlight out of many was his re-imagining of "The Slim." A quieter yet intense song, Mould spent most of the song reining in the busy descending riff...until the end, when he kicked on the distortion and raged through the rest of the song, in a performance reminiscent of the most aggressive songs on the commercially overlooked Beaster EP.
New songs, including "The Descent," exhibited that Mould has not missed a step with his songwriting, and that song is destined to become a classic of his catalog. Needless to say, the Hüsker Dü songs received tremendous crowd response, and showed that, even at his age, he can still slash away at his guitar and sing with the aggression that made him a punk rock icon.
As much as the crowd was loving the show, singing along and dancing with what little room they had, nobody had more fun at that show than Mould himself. He seemed genuinely happy to be in front of his one-time hometown crowd, and was so appreciative of the audience that shlepped down to the legendary venue, even after the city had been hit by a ridiculous rainstorm earlier in the day.
Thirty-plus years into his career, Mould is still making excellent music, and is still one of the best acts touring today. He shows no signs of slowing down, and thank God for that.