Paul Westerberg

Paul Westerberg: live in Chicagolive in Chicago (2005)
live show

Reviewer Rating: 4.5

Contributed by: TheOneTrueBillTheOneTrueBill
(others by this writer | submit your own)

So here it is, Paul Westerberg And His Only Friends Band. No opening act. I wasn't sure what to expect, but boy did I come out satisfied. With a brief run up to the mic and a muttered "What the fuck do you know?" coming from Paul, the night began. The set started off with a few songs I didn't rec.

So here it is, Paul Westerberg And His Only Friends Band. No opening act. I wasn't sure what to expect, but boy did I come out satisfied.

With a brief run up to the mic and a muttered "What the fuck do you know?" coming from Paul, the night began. The set started off with a few songs I didn't recognize until "Mr. Rabbit" and "As Far As I Know." He introduced one of the songs as a Pete Seger cover, and it had something to do with a hammer. The first Replacements song of the night came in the form of "Merry Go Round," immediately followed by "Someone Take the Wheel." More than a few lyrics were flubbed. Also they somehow snuck in a quick version of "Rebel Rebel" from David Bowie within the structure of another song.

Eventually, the band got to "High Time." After that number, Paul left the stage and came back with a TV. He then threw said TV on the stage, then began to beat it senseless with his guitar before breaking it in two. His explanation? "They told us to watch TV while we waited!" he slurred, before starting into a sped-up "Making Me Go" from the Come Feel Me Tremble album. "Valentine" soon followed.

About an hour in, the rest of the band walked off the stage, leaving only Paul and his twelve-string acoustic. A three-song mini-set consisted of "Swinging Party," "Crackle And Drag," and one that was apparently a Bob Dylan song. At this point, the drinking began. Paul threatened to not play another note until he got some liquor, and the roadie obliged. After hearing the urban legends of Replacements shows, the audience and I knew that this was about to get much more interesting.

"Knock It Right Out" was perhaps the most flat-out rock and roll song I have ever witnessed. Westerberg grabbed the microphone stand and began to bang it into his guitar. He then got bored with the guitar itself and dispensed of it by throwing it at the roadie who made a spectacular one-handed grab. He the grabbed the stand with one hand and began to stumble around. The mic fell to the ground, and a roadie ran to pick it up, but this didn't bother Paul one bit. He kept singing into the empty mic stand, confident that the equipment would make its way back. The whiskey sure was doing its job. As I heard the opening notes of "Can't Hardly Wait," a feeling of pure joy swept through me that is impossible to put into words. At the bridge of the song, Paul threw the microphone into the crowd and then decided to join it. He put his foot on the barrier, and took a leap into the adoring fans, playing the song all the while.

At this point, no one knew what was coming next. The last thirty minutes of the set was pretty much chaos. I give the band all the credit in the world for keeping up with Paul, because he'd start into multiple songs then just stop on a dime. The ones they managed to get through most of were "I Think I Love You" by David Cassidy, "Cat Scratch Fever" from Ted Nugent, "Substitute" from the Who, and a bluesy number called "Jesus Love Chicago." I have no idea what the last song of the set was called, but I can tell you that it went on for well over six minutes with almost no intelligible lyrics.

Before starting the encore, Paul came out with a telephone, saying that we had a call. I held my breath thinking he'd play "Answering Machine." Unfortunately, that wasn't meant to be. In five minutes Paul had sobered up just a wee bit and played "Alex Chilton" and "Left Of The Dial" before exiting for good.

I've heard stories of how Replacements shows were and everything that made them legendary: the antics, the unpredictability, the drunken swagger. I can safely say that what I saw tonight was an accurate approximation of that. Two hours and twenty minutes of Paul Westerberg And His Only Friends Band was well worth my thirty dollars and the years of waiting. Sure, there were tons of songs I would've loved to hear, but I wouldn't change a single thing about tonight. Excuse me while I go put on "The Shit Hits the Fans" once again.


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Anonymous (May 17, 2005)

ah, drinking through a sloppy set: cute when yer twenty-something and then it gets ugly.

Anonymous (May 5, 2005)

i just saw paul and his band in norfolk, virginia, this past sunday, the 1st of may. it was great. i never saw him with the replacements, pitty, but i have always seen him, when, close to my hometown. an amazing songwriter and the charisma to go along. he gave us a blood brothers show, in which they all cut themselves and bonded. cool, and they kept on playing, with the blood flowing.....the band sounded great to me, and paul, raspy and crude, with a soft side while he sang skyway and love untold..acoustic.... loved it, every 120 minutes of it!

Anonymous (April 26, 2005)

I am going to see Paul tonight in NYC and I was looking for some info: can I expect an opening act? Also, did he go on at the scheduled time?

Anonymous (April 21, 2005)

every post is a scene point right, or what is with the 1next to the posters' name when they comment on news

Anonymous (April 21, 2005)


Kenjamin (April 21, 2005)

or read that awesome review of "Tim" on the site... eh? eh? eh? Oh dear, i hope i atleast get points for trying.

Anonymous (April 21, 2005)

To the guy below, if you like goo goo dolls and ryan addams check out their albums on sire records(second half of carreer). If you are more into drunken fun rock with a touch of hardcore check out their albums on twin tone records(first half of carreer).
I prefer the twin tone stuff
recommended albums: let it be, sorry ma forgot to take out the trash.

Anonymous (April 20, 2005)

Who were the Replacements, anyway? Somebody told me they sounded kind of like the Goo Goo Dolls or Ryan Adams.

Anonymous (April 20, 2005)

I hope the comment below this one is sarcasm, I really do. (gulp)

Anonymous (April 19, 2005)

this guy was in the replacements? what'd he play?

Anonymous (April 19, 2005)

There is no replacement for The Replacements.

Anonymous (April 19, 2005)

Every drunk says they've got it under control now.

TheOneTrueBill (April 19, 2005)

If anything, I think he was playing into it more than being absolutly drunk. When he came out for the encore, those two songs were pretty much spot on.

I was reading an interview with him where he said he's at the point where he can have a few drinks and not go crazy.

Anonymous (April 19, 2005)

I'm sorry to see that Paul is drinking again. Clearly (as per the review) this isn't working for him, unless your idea of a quality show is seing some big, drunk baby throw things around and perform poorly.

The worst thing about all of this is that Paul's fans will encourage this kind of stuff. Sure, drunken craziness might be cute when delivered by 20 something louts like The Replacements. 20 years later, and you've got a fat drunk who has drink after drink delivered by his lackeys. This is "genius?"

Seems to me Westerberg has Guided By Voices syndrome. These "beer after beer after liquor" kinds of artists might make good records (GBV did, Paul hasn't made anything great in years) but the shows are a mess. And the worship of addiction isn't cool, it's sad.

Just look at any recent pictures of Paul, such as last year's Magnet cover: He's fat as fuck. He's becoming a jackolantern headed, bloated joke.

At least Bob Stinson had the class to go ahead and die.

ubershep (April 19, 2005)

To see him attached to Vagrant just makes me queezy.

Tim-PunkInternational (April 19, 2005)

This tour came through Vancouver it was the best show I ever saw.

TheOneTrueBill (April 19, 2005)

I heard that in Milwaukee, the night before my show, about 1/3 of the set list was made up of Replacements songs. But they didn't get the spontenaity (however it's spelled) or the covers that we got.

I'm really not sure which one I'd rather have. They both have their charms

Ollywood (April 19, 2005)

Thats badass, Its good to hear that although his music has changed drastically over his carreer that he is still maintains to be the spontaneas. You Rock Paul!!

Kenjamin (April 19, 2005)

I had no idea he played Replacements songs. Nice review.

Anonymous (April 19, 2005)

sounds like lots of cocaine was needed.

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