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Review: Bob Mould roars again at El Rey
In Bob Mould’s catalog, Copper Blue (the debut from his second band, Sugar) and his latest self-produced disc Silver Age have more in common than metallic titles. They’re both fine albums, filled with terse, brittle haymakers of songs, and both marked a return to the power-trio format he assayed in Hüsker Dü, the great Minneapolis band he co-fronted (with drummer/vocalist Grant Hart) in the ’80s.
More cynically, both titles are recently released, the Sugar album having arrived in a remixed and expanded 20th anniversary edition in July and Silver Age available since just after Labor Day weekend. And while songs from both albums were performed by the same three musicians a L.A.’s El Rey Theatre Tuesday night, if felt like two different bands were on stage.
The evening opened with a start-to-finish run-through of 1992’s Copper Blue, and it was fine – a very good band (including Superchunk drummer Jon Wuster and Verbow bassist Jason Narducy, who has supported Mould since 2005) playing crisp, taut renditions of very good songs. Except for the fact that Mould is 20 years older – somewhat owlish, with a bald pate, gray goatee and small wireless eyeglasses – nothing about the set would have looked out of place back when the album was originally released.
Not a word was spoken until the last lashings of feedback on “Man in the Moon” died down. “That was fun,” Mould told the older if still enthusiastic crowd. “That was pretty good.”
As good as it was (and it was pretty damn good), when the set list turned to Silver Age and more, the show got even better – the band relaxed and the music began to breathe.
Mould’s fretwork took a wilder turn, as he strummed away at the strings with greater force, the chords sounding airier and more serrated. While he pretty much stood in one place while playing the Sugar album, he began to stalk the stage like his former self during the second half.