What are the chances that two handsome, brown-haired men, age 37 or 38, with three-day beards, irresistible charm and unstoppable humor would play the same song in the same arena on consecutive sold-out nights? That’s what happened last week at Xcel Energy Center where, on Wednesday, retro pop star Michael Bublé and, on Thursday, country superstar Blake Shelton, performed “Home,” a song that was a huge hit for each of them. Bublé wrote it.
One lives in San Francisco nowadays and the other hasn’t left the house much in the past nine years, so the rarity of having Bob Mould and Paul Westerberg share the same stage Sunday at RiotFest in Chicago wasn’t lost on the ’80s-era Minneapolis indie-rock heroes. After busting replacement Replacements guitarist David Minehan’s chops for playing “a Cure thing” in “Swingin’ Party,” Westerberg smirkingly chastised the otherwise stellar Minehan on some minor slip-up: “We could have Bob Mould up here in an instant, buddy,” he cracked, but then added, “Yeah, we wish.” Mould didn’t plug in but he did stick around five hours to watch the ’Mats, per the Hold Steady’s Craig Finn tweet: “I got to stand next to my musical hero while watching my other heroes.” I.W. is confident Finn wasn’t one of the people backstage who reportedly mistook the Pixies’ Frank Black for Mould as he, too, watched from the wings.
As Stephen King’s sequel to “The Shining” is hitting bookshelves, Mark Campbell is busy adapting the original for the Minnesota Opera. Its version of “The Shining” will premiere in May 2015. He and composer Paul Moravec are trying to remain as true as possible to King’s horror novel about a hotel caretaker battling ghosts and his own demons, putting his wife and son in peril. “It’s very much a story about a family trying to survive impossible odds,” said Campbell, who has received King’s approval on his completed outline. The librettist said he’s holding off on violence until the second act, but that the first “is spooky, with an ending people will be talking about.” For the music, Pulitzer-winning Moravec wants to avoid what he called the melodramatic “horror pastiche” typical of films in the genre. “The novel is actually more operatic than the movie was because it addresses fundamental, primal emotions, which is also what serious opera does,” he told I.W. “Things about it that might not work in a straight play are perfect for opera.”
“O, What a Luxury,” Garrison Keillor’s new book of light verse, is witty and amusing, like something Ogden Nash might’ve produced. The poems are fun to read, even the title poem, which is, frankly, about something I.W.’s mother said should never be discussed in public. (“To feel your bladder just go free / and open like the Mighty Miss … ”) (And that is not his only poem on that topic.) Since we live in Keillor’s home state, we have the opportunity to hear him read poems to us. All of them. He will read and record them Oct. 2 and 3 at the Fitzgerald Theater. Free tickets can be obtained at the Fitz box office or at Keillor’s Common Good Books (where, with an advance ticket, you can buy the book at 20 percent off). He will also do a reading Nov. 3 at Barnes & Noble Galleria in Edina, but the Fitz events will replace his originally planned Oct. 1 book launch. O, what a night.
Who can it be now?
Ex-Men at Work frontman Colin Hay talks as much in concert as he sings. And when he comes to the Twin Cities, he likes to share stories about homeboy Bob Dylan. It seems Hay, who is a pretty good mimic, encountered Dylan backstage in the catering area of a concert once. “It was the shortest and quietest conversation in my life,” Hay explained Saturday at the Pantages Theatre. “He whispered: ‘Everything OK?’” (with Hay doing a spot-on Dylan). Yup, Hay responded. “Food OK?” Yup. This relatively wordless exchange eventually sparked a dream about Dylan, Hay continued. In the dream, Hay was driving on the Pacific Coast Highway in California when his car broke down. Who should stop by to help? Dylan, of course. The Bard sticks his head and hands under the hood of Hay’s car, tinkers with a few things and then looks at Hay. “Triple A,” the troubadour says and then drives on down the road.