Arts & Entertainment Editor
He has been touring with an electric band for the better part of 19 years. From his explosive early days leading the powerful trios Hüsker Dü and Sugar, to his current solo career, legendary singer/songwriter/guitarist Bob Mould has been on the road for half of his life. He has decided that it is time to “reevaluate how I present my music,” and will therefore no longer use a full electric band after the current tour. With that decision made, Mould revved up the band and ripped through Chicago (September 17—Riviera Theater) to promote his latest release, the aptly titled The Last Dog And Pony Show.
Mould, followed by his band, walked onto the stage holding a sign proclaiming the earlier feats of the man most of Chicago was thinking about. The sign read, “Sosa 63.” He flashed a smile to the sellout crowd and strapped on his guitar. From that point forward, Mould tore through a fast-paced set that included most of the new album and little between song banter.
“Moving Trucks,” a typical Mould song that features viscous guitar work and lyrics to match them, was the opener. Drummer Matt Hammon wasted no time in starting up the next tune “Taking Everything,” another hard-charging Mould rocker from The Last Dog And Pony Show. Hammon kept that pace all night, hardly giving the audience a chance to cheer the previous song before hammering away at the next one.
Highlights of the set included “Anymore Time Between,” which featured a wailing solo from Mould that emptied into a quiet lull where he spoke a soft passage as his hands raised up from his guitar. During “Brasillia Crossed With Trenton,” Mould stormed back and forth across the stage while he shredded through another melodic solo. The energy was as visible as the amount of sweat that poured off the stage. Mould’s gray T-shirt was completely soaked halfway through the frenetic set.
The other two members of Mould’s tenacious band were bassist Jim Wilson and guitarist Michael Cerveris. Wilson, who kept up the heavy beats despite early trouble with the Riviera sound system, has known Mould since 1993 when they co-produced an album by Magnapop. Cerveris, whose claim to fame is playing the title role in the Broadway production of The Who’s Tommy, sported a closely shaved head like Mould while doing wonders with the melodies on rhythm guitar.
Mould came back for an encore with “New #1.” The opening song on The Last Dog And Pony Show, “New #1” features a driving acoustic guitar and passionate lyrics that got the crowd zoned in on the singer. After “Who Was Around?” the band left the stage to loud cheers from the audience that clearly wanted more.
Moments later, the band was back on stage tearing into “EgoOveride,” from Mould’s self-titled 1996 solo album. From there it was on to a raw, draining performance of a Sugar classic “Hanging Tree.” Perhaps the absolute highlight of the night, “Hanging Tree” ended with Mould bent over forward, wailing into the microphone until he could not let out another sound as the crowd roared in approval. He threw down his guitar and stalked off the stage while the guitar continued to pierce the theater with feedback for over a minute.
Although it could have ended with that moment, the band returned once more and quickly pounded out “Disappointed,” yet another song filled with crunchy guitar riffs and a great melody. “See A Little Light,” a definite crowd favorite from Mould’s Sugar days, capped off the very tight performance.
Mould will now move away from the sonic buzz of the electric guitars and into another format of expression that he has yet to figure out himself. “I’m not even sure what I want to do, but that’s part of the fun,” he openly admits. With that attitude and the talent he possesses, Bob Mould will no doubt find a new way to create thunderous walls of sound to back his heartfelt lyrics, even if they grow a bit quieter.