Westerberg 'Craft' gets at some details but quiets his music
- Article by: Chris Riemenschneider
- Star Tribune
- September 24, 2007 - 12:52 PM
Twin Cities rock fans who can't hardly wait for Paul Westerberg's first hometown concert in three years still haven't gotten their wish -- even after the former Replacements frontman spent nearly two hours on stage Sunday night at First Avenue.
Westerberg emerged from another of his infamous/legendary hiatuses to film an episode of "The Craft," a series of "Storytellers"-type shows that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is compiling for its archives and website (www.rockhall.com/thecraft). Like his "Craft" predecessors such as Elvis Costello and Ben Gibbard, the singer spent most of the night talking instead of singing. He only played 10 songs total.
Fortunately, Westerberg is a pretty good talker. "The Craft's" host Warren Zanes also proved to be an adept if too-insidery interviewer, and he was especially fitting in this case. Zanes was a peer of the Replacements as a member of Boston's Del Fuegos.
"We got it that this was a band that was gonna be remembered for 50 years," Zanes said.
If only Westerberg himself was good at remembering things from even 20 years ago. He came up short on several questions but did offer up some insight into the 'Mats legacy.
Among the random tidbits was one about drummer Chris Mars' bass drum being overdubbed for much of the "Please to Meet Me" album ("He was good at snare drum and high hat," Westerberg offered). He named "Don't Tell a Soul's" Matt Wallace as the band's best producer. He also pointed to the song "Within Your Reach" as "one of the first chinks in the armor of the band," since it was a quiet and emotional solo number.
Westerberg ended the show with two Replacements favorites, "Can't Hardly Wait" and "Skyway." He also played one unreleased old song, "Make the Best of Me," which he said his ex-bandmates rejected as "too spiritual."
While fans clearly relished the 'Mats lore, the show's more revealing moments were about Westerberg's recent life. He credited his son, Johnny, 9, for inspiring and distracting him from the music, both in good ways. Referring to a hiatus after his son's birth, he said, "I found it so fulfilling, it was hard to strap on a guitar."
Westerberg also laughed about all the rumors that circulate about him nowadays, such as how a recent hand injury that he's still recovering from (it showed subtly in his guitar playing) became, "I hear Paul cut his foot off!"
Sunday's taping didn't merit fans cutting off their own feet to get the free but elusive tickets, although some did pay $100-plus to scalpers. But the event certainly was one that the diehards and the singer took to heart.
Read a set list and more details at www.startribune.com/poplife.
Chris Riemenschneider 612-673-4658
Chris Riemenschneider email@example.com
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