20+ years later and The Replacements were back in San Francisco for the “Back By Unpopular Demand Tour”. The much-adored Minneapolis ‘Mats broke up all too soon in 1991 and it was hard to imagine that this day would come. It was even harder to come by with a ticket to this oh so sold-out show which seemed to have sold out in mere minutes of their onsale time. But pretty much any price would have been worth it to see them. I had pretty much given up on going to the show and opted for a ticket to another reunion show Ride over at The Warfield. But my heart was always in it to see The ‘Mats.It was interesting to see them in a nice, polished club with ushers at the doors and ‘bartenders’ in their tuxes selling way overpriced drinks. But I will say the sound at The Masonic was pretty amazing. While I cant say Im a huge fan of Nob Hill (is anyone really?), it was a pretty sweet venue and one Id gladly go back to. So it was amusing when Tommy Stinson commented about how they used to play in the ‘lowlands’ (referring to the I-Beam in the Haight). And naturally Paul Westerberg could barely remember it. And that was just the kind of show it was.
Some bantering about the songs, the area and how we needed to break the Portland curse. And if that wasnt broken after that, Im not sure what would have unbroke it. The band started out the night just right with ‘Takin a Ride‘. The crowd was jumping and bouncing and it was pure energy with lots of fists punching into the air. It was hard to go wrong when that was just the opening song. Of course, it was over all too soon with what felt like 2 minute songs of pure raw-punk energy. Headed right into ‘Favorite Thing‘ kept the audience moving and it seemed that energy would never stop.
The band sounded as great as ever. Sure, theyre a little older (or a lot!) as we all are. Forgotten lyrics, shortened songs, clips of songs that didn’t finish, and even Paul singing ‘Androgynous‘ from inside of a tent. It just would not get better than that, but of course it did. While the band didn’t necessarily have hits, they did manage to play a lot of their more popular songs along with their deeper cuts. It should have appealed to nearly everyone in some way, shape or form. They really mixed it up with playing songs from their early albums Hootenanny and Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash plus their later albums.
And best of all, the band still had that grittiness/dirt to them. They still had an edginess to them and Paul might be a little grayer but hell a lot of us are now and he still sounds as great as ever. The energy from Tommy on bass is still electrifying. Dave Minehan on guitars was f’ing brilliant. He had so much energy and was an awesome fit. (Original ‘Mats guitarist Slim Dunlap is recovering from a stroke; while original drummer Chris Mars ixnayed the reunion tour). On drums was Josh Freese who was pretty kick-ass having played in oh so many other bands. Its a great fit and they seem to have chemistry.
The show was one of those things where it was either going to be insanely awesome or it would just suck. Thankfully, it was f’ing brilliant. I couldnt have asked for a better time, better company and a most awesome crowd. Everyone singing to “Bastards of Young” is one of those moments that will be hard to forget. The excitement of finally hearing “Kiss Me on the Bus” live was beyond awesome. Plus, Paul playing “Skyway” acoustically was just gorgeous. And then you add in other popular songs like “Ill Be You“, “I Will Dare” and of course the final encore of “Alex Chilton” along with the entire crowd singing along and it might be one of the most perfect sets.I may regret not taking more photos (really hardly any), but hell if it was way back when none of us would have even had them. It was nice to see for most the set that there werent a whole lot of people recording/filming every second of it. We were all caught up in a time and moment together, and fuck it, why bother trying to replicate it. It will never be better than that moment. With that being said, the photos on here are all from Ben Graham and theyre quite a fitting way to remember the show.
Opener John Doe (of X) opened up the show and like many a punk-rocker these days, he has gone the alt-country-folk route. And they were quite good and the woman in his band had amazing vocals. He changed the lyrics to a song to reflect a SF club and that was a nice touch. And he even played some X songs as well so that is a pretty cool thing. Plus, its f’ing John Doe opening and it seemed a very fitting opener.
Takin a Ride
I Don’t Know/Buck Hill/I Don’t Know
(Elvis “Little Sister” tease)
“Poetry Tent” (Paul reads in a tent to “Take Five,” Brubeck
([with Paul singing from inside a tent)
Kissin’ in Action
((with Tommy playing Black Sabbath Iron Man intro at the end))
I Will Dare
Kiss Me on the Bus
20th Century Boy / Bang a Gong (Get It On) / All Shook Down
Take Me Down to the Hospital
I’m in Trouble
I Hate Music
If Only You Were Lonely
I’ll Be You
Color Me Impressed
(Chuck Berry cover)
Anywhere’s Better Than Here
Can’t Hardly Wait
Bastards of Young
Within Your Reach
Seen Your Video
(Paul solo acoustic)
Left of the Dial