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“I’m sure you’ve heard this until your nauseous: What does Hüsker Dü mean?”
While barely even qualifying as a footnote in a 50-year career that ended with Joan Rivers’ death today, the scene of the legendary comic welcoming the members of one of Minnesota’s most influential bands to the set of Fox's "The Late Show With Joan Rivers" in 1987 is one permanently etched in the minds of local music lovers.
The appearance followed the release of Hüsker Dü's second album for Warner Bros. (and last record, period), “Warehouse: Songs and Stories.” Besides proving they were one indie band not beholden to image or fashion in the slightest, the Rivers gig also demonstrated how they were more than willing to play the music industry game. It proved Rivers was game, too. She misstates the title of the song -- “You Could Be the One,” instead of “Could You Be the One?” – but goes on to ask relatively pointed questions about them leaving the “radical” underground for the corporate music world.
“As you get older, your emotional spectrum becomes a little more involved, a little wider,” Bob Mould responds. “It’s not just screaming about how messed up the government is and how much you hate your parents anymore.”
Things get a little awkward from there. It’s pretty clear the band members -- who also went back and played Grant Hart's "She's a Woman (And Now He's a Man)" to end the show -- weren’t exactly best buds by that point. Still, Mould seems to hold a fond memory of that TV appearance: He dedicated “Could You Be the One?” to Rivers just this past Sunday during his Hüskers-heavy surprise gig at 7th Street Entry.
When the members of Minneapolis pop-punk band the Crush started playing together in 1999, singer/guitarist Jason Miller said they spent many a night “hammering away” on songs.
“Some were OK, and some were not,” recalled Miller, later of the Evening Rig, in one of the many Facebook postings and other tributes online this week mourning the loss of his former Crush bandmate Andrew Richardson.
“It was Andy who would push us to keep going. Push us to be something bigger, louder, faster. Not just as a band, but as individuals. … I’m forever in debt for the way he forced me to hear differently, see life differently.
Richardson, 36, was declared missing Monday when he didn’t show up for his longtime job at ZVEX Effects, a guitar-pedal maker. He was found dead Tuesday in Minneapolis. The cause of death has not been named, but comments from family and friends have pointed to it being suicide. He is survived by his wife of seven years, Marisa “Moe” Richardson, and their 3-year-old son, Bronson.
Moe Richardson opened up on Facebook, too: "I am so lucky to have had almost 12 years with my man," she said. "I am heartbroken that Bronson only had 3. Andrew loved all his friends and family so much. He would help anyone at anytime. Our plan was to send the rest of our life together raising Bronson."
With Richardson as a guitarist and co-vocalist, the Crush earned a national underground buzz and a record deal with Adeline Records, run by Billie Joe Armstrong and his Twin Cities-bred wife Adrienne. They went on to open a U.K. tour for Green Day, including a gig at Wembley Stadium. The 2002 photo of the band below shows Richardson at far left.
Richardson performed in several other bands of local note, too, including the Book of Dead Names, Start: Destruct and the Dirty Hits. He was fondly remembered by other musicians from the early-‘00s punk scene for his wit and supportiveness, including Sean “Har Mar Superstar” Tillmann and members of Motion City Soundtrack.
Tillmann posted on Facebook: "Andy was a loving person that touched many of our lives. Never anything but cool. Depression is real. Affects me too, in a real way. No explanation necessary. Just wish I could've been there in some way."
MCS bassist Jesse Johnson wrote this: “He was a ray of energy in the Minneapolis music scene. … I am so thankful I saw him and his son recently and remember him smiling. My thoughts go out to his wife and child. I don't know how someone gets through these things. You'll be missed Andy, but your cocky smile will live on forever in my memory.”
A memorial fund for Richardson’s wife and son has been started via YouCaring.com, click here to help. Services will be held at Evans-Nordby Funeral Home in Osseo on Saturday, September 13. Doors are at 12 p.m., and a celebration of life ceremony is at 2 p.m. Attendees are being asked to bring stories on a piece of paper, and/or pictures of Andrew to put in a box for Bronson.
The facetiousness in bassist Jason Narducy's voice near the start of Sunday afternoon’s rehearsal at 7th Street Entry was as loud as the throwback performance to come later that night.
"I'm gonna need a lot of guitar in my monitor," Narducy instructed their sound man, to laughs.
The joke lay in the fact that Narducy was only standing about eight feet from bandleader Bob Mould's amplifier, as is always the case on the puny stage that has been an enormous incubator for Twin Cities bands since Mould himself formed a group 35 years ago. What’s more, Mould’s amp was predictably cranked loud enough to be heard eight blocks away, as is always the case when he’s playing with his current band -- just like it was with his first one.
Thirty-three years after Minneapolis punk heroes Hüsker Dü recorded their fastest (yet dullest) album in the Entry, “Land Speed Record,” the band’s co-leader returned there Sunday to play a gig that had been announced less than 24 hours earlier and sold out in less than 10 minutes. It was Mould’s first time performing in the 250-capacity former broom closet since a pair of solo-acoustic shows in 1991, but those gigs were nothing like the old days. Sunday’s concert very much was.
“How many of you have seen a band at the Entry play two sets?” Mould asked the crowd as he walked out on the stage for the second time Sunday.
Harking back to the days when headlining Entry bands were required to stretch out their act to beef up bar sales, the show was split into two sets. The 45-minute first block was made up largely of tunes from Mould’s last two albums, both recorded with Narducy (frontman of Verbow) and drummer Jon Wurster (Superchunk). The second set started off with two songs that dated back to the “Land Speed” era, and it didn’t often get much more current than that. One of the Hüsker Dü songs, “Up in the Air,” had not been played by a Mould-led band since the year it came out (1987), and several more have only recently been dusted off.
Coming on the heels of their more standard but still memorable showing Saturday for the MN-Music-on-a-Stick concert – you wouldn’t have known their only rehearsal of late would be after that State Fair appearance – Mould and his bandmates tacked on Sunday’s gig as a warm-up for a month-long U.S. tour that begins Friday in Philadelphia, their first trek behind the emotionally blustery album from June, “Beauty & Ruin.” The show was also organized as a fundraiser for nonprofit music org DEMO, run by former First Ave manager Steve McClellan.
Talking in the First Ave green room next door after their rehearsal -- their afternoon workout included a couple other rare oldies not played later that night – Mould credited Narducy and Wurster for pushing him to revisit more Hüskers tunes, and to dust off other nuggets from throughout his discography. Narducy, for instance, encouraged them to add their rocked-up version of 1989’s “Sinners & Their Repentances” to Sunday’s set list, while Wurster pushed for “Come Around,” an uncharacteristically mellow one from Mould’s early-’90s trio Sugar. The drummer had also previously talked Mould into reviving 1985's “Flip Your Wig,” one of his all-time favorites.
“These guys love those records, and if they get excited to play that stuff, I do, too,” Mould said. “And yeah, I’m proud of a lot of it, too.”
Sunday’s show was a test run for the rest of the tour. “We’ll play with [the set list] at first,” Bob added, “and then there’ll be one night where it really seems to click, and it might be hard for us to break away from that one after that.”
Looking fit enough at age 53 to bench-press longtime admirer and new buddy Ryan Adams – he dropped about 30 pounds over the past year – Mould didn’t allow his bandmates time to catch their breath during most of the first set before tearing into the next song. There was even less room in the second run. The only time he seemed less than fully able-bodied was when he struggled to read the set list at his feet toward show’s end, but that was because he had to take off his glasses. No exaggeration: The lenses kept fogging up from the steam coming off the stage.
While the old songs predictably earned the most enthusiasm -- and even sparked a sizable pit of middle-aged moshers (none of whom where doing as well as Bob in the fitness/weight-loss department) -- a lot of Mould’s newest tunes would have fit in side-by-side with the Hüskers classics in terms of fiery delivery. Highlights included the full-on rager “The War” and the more melodic, upbeat pre-encore closer “Fix It.”
Mould himself was upbeat talking about his old days in the Entry, despite the distance he maintains from his Hüsker Dü bandmates these days. “We had a lot of fun nights in that particular room,” he said before the show. “Of course, a lot of it is a blur now, but I do know it was fun then. That's when the band was really clicking and probably at our best.”
Even when he’s not playing a show as special as Sunday’s, though, it’s pretty easy to see that Mould is having more fun with Narducy and Wurster than he’s ever had playing in a band, an assumption he confirmed before the gig.
“I said it [on Saturday], too: I hope I can play with these guys as long as I’m still playing.”
No argument there. Here’s Sunday’s set list(s):
Star Machine / The Descent / I Don't Know You Anymore / Sinners and Their Repentances / Little Glass Pill / Kid With Crooked Face / Nemeses Are Laughing / The War / Come Around* / Changes* / Helpless* / Keep Believing
In A Free Land+ / Real World+ / Something I Learned Today+ / Chartered Trips+ / Could You Be The One?+ / Flip Your Wig+ / See a Little Light / Celebrated Summer+ / Hardly Getting Over It+ / Tomorrow Morning / Up in the Air+ / If I Can't Change Your Mind* / Hey Mr. Grey / Fix It
Makes No Sense at All+ / Love Is All Around (theme from “Mary Tyler Moore Show”) / New Day Rising+
(+Hüsker Dü songs *Sugar songs)
Last time Liv Warfield performed in the Twin Cities, it was on 24 hours notice at Paisley Park.
This time, her gig at the Dakota was announced six days in advance. And now Warfield, one of Prince’s backup singers who put out her own often impressive disc this year, has added a 10 p.m. performance for Thursday at the Dakota; tickets are $45. She’s also slated to perform at 7 p.m. Luke James will open.
Warfield’s band includes the 11-piece NPG Horns, who also work with Prince. And he was the executive producer of her CD, “The Unexpected.”
Here is part of my review of the Portland, Ore., singer’s Paisley show in June:
Warfield has an explosive, gospel-infused voice and a commanding, arm-shaking stage presence. She also is strikingly creative, as evidenced on a terrific a cappella arrangement of Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” for three female voices.
She also has found a sound that sets her apart, sort of a funk-rock stomp with powerhouse gospel-tinged vocals. Think a more robust Annie Lennox with much more church.
Standouts during the 75-minute set were “Freedom,” kind of a Broadway soul shout with a message; “Embrace Me,” which had an island freshness to its swing; the soft and then ebullient reprise to the new number “NotGVNGUP”; a cover of Chaka Khan’s “You Got the Love” on which Warfield got lost in funkiness; the rip-roaring “Why Do You Lie,” with its nifty jazzy vocalese ending; and the emphatic “Black Bird,” which was spiked with New Orleans-flavored bebop horns.
(Photo: Clint Austin, Duluth News Tribune/Associated Press)
He doesn’t have the keys to the place anymore like he did in the ‘80s, but Bob Dylan will own the Orpheum Theatre for at least three nights, Nov. 4-6, when his never-ending tour takes up residency in Minneapolis. Tickets for the three-gig run go on sale Sept. 6 at noon through Ticketmaster or the State Theatre box office for $135, $85 and $55.
Dylan and his brother, David Zimmerman, were the owners of the Orpheum before it was taken over in 1988 by the Minneapolis Community Development Agency. At the time, Dylan lived part-time on his farm property along the Crow River in western Hennepin County and was known to take in a show now and then. He returned to the theater in 1992 and played a five-night engagement there.
While he may have a soft spot for the place, the Orpheum is not the only performance hall that size where the original Bobby Z is making himself at home on tour this fall. He also has multi-night runs booked at Chicago’s Cadillac Palace Theatre right after Minneapolis as well as in Seattle, Los Angeles, Oakland and Philadelphia before finishing up with a four-nighter at New York’s Beacon Theater (Nov. 28-Dec. 2). Rolling Stone's report on the tour suggests there won't be much difference in the set lists from night to night.
Today’s fall tour announcement follows yesterday news that a six-disc collection of the famous “Basement Tapes” sessions with The Band will be issued as the latest installment of Dylan’s “Bootleg Series” on Nov. 4, the day of that first Orpheum gig.
Dylan’s last swing through his home state was last summer, when he headlined the Americanarama Tour with Wilco and My Morning Jacket at St. Paul’s Midway Stadium and Duluth’s Bayfront Park. He has made a habit of coming back to his native state on or near election day, including a 2012 show at Xcel Energy Center that fell on Nov. 7 and a 2008 gig at Northrop Auditorium that happened to fall on the night Barack Obama was elected.
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