Song of the Day: September 2, 2014
Replacements, “Achin’ to Be”
It’s been one helluva two week cycle for indie-rock nostalgia.
First, there was the sheer spectacle of seeing Kate Bush performing for the first time in 35 years.
Then, there was act after act at this year’s Bumbershoot, ranging from an all-star cast of characters (members of R.E.M. and the Posies, not to mention Jody Stephens himself, the last man standing from the original lineup) re-creating Big Star’s epic downerfest Third to the Wu-Tang Clan’s triumphant set making clear their G.O.A.T. status to Dream Syndicate’s reunion (“Tell Me When It’s Over” is a H.O.F. song, let’s get real), then a little band from Minneapolis making their own reappearance after many years away from the game.
I could go on and on and on about what the ‘Mats have meant to me over the years; I played in bands that attempted to cover their songs, I totally identified with frontman Paul Westerberg’s melancholy outsider persona, and mostly just dug the hell out of their “Faces for the 80s” sweet & sour, wrong-in-all-the-right-ways, shaggy-dog method of muscling their way through a song, whether that song happened to be a Kiss cover or something as timeless as one of Westerberg’s seemingly endless river of beautiful-loser originals.
There are probably a few songs/moments I would love to have seen in the band’s set (an acoustic encore of “Here Comes a Regular” comes to mind) but that feels like nitpicking considering the sheer breadth of the setlist and the fact that Westerberg, Tommy Stinson, touring drummer Josh Freese (ex G ‘n R) and guitarist Dave Minehan (ex-Neighborhoods, both of whom played with Westerberg back in the ’90s) looked energized, played their asses off, sounded as tight-yet-sloppy as I remembered from their heyday, and included a faltering Jackson 5 cover (“I Want You Back”) as part of the evening’s entertainment.
But when the Batman-shirted Westerberg sang these lines (a song that, as he laughingly put it, was from our ‘short-lived country/western period that didn’t fly so good’)…
Well, I saw one of your pictures
There was nothin’ that I could see
If no one’s on your canvas
Well, I’m achin’ to be
…It made me remember what I loved about this band so much in the first place.
Welcome home, ‘Mats. Your idiot nation has awaited you. (CdB)