They didn't get to jam with Keith Richards, but at least they got to raise the ghost of Alex Chilton on national TV.
The Replacements hit "The Tonight Show" on Tuesday night for their first TV gig since reforming with a new lineup a year ago August. Richards was also on the set earlier in the show plugging his new children's book but never mingled with the 'Mats on air.
Introduced by a genuinely excited-looking Jimmy Fallon as a "massively beloved and influential rock band in the midst of their first tour since 1991," the Minneapolis legends tore through their classic 1987 tribute to the late leader of Big Star, "Alex Chilton." Word is the band also played a second song that wasn't aired but will hopefully be posted on Fallon's site later Wednesday.
While bassist Tommy Stinson wore a slick pinstripe jacket and guitarist David Minehan stuck with the kind of plaid suit of Replacements lore, frontman Paul Westerberg looked like he was headed to school with his 16-year-old son Johnny the next day in a plain red T-shirt. He and Stinson exchanged several devilish smiles throughout the performance that suggested they were either having a blast or couldn't wait to be done (50-50 odds).
Having Richards on the set the same night added excitement and speculation among Replacements fans, especially those who remembered that the Minneapolis rockers opened for the British rock legend at his birthday bash with his side band the X-pensive Winos in 1988. Odds weren't good that Keith remembered, though. The musicians did at least get some hang time together backstage.
The build-up to the appearance was peppered with Instagram pics and tweets from the 30 Rock earlier in the day Tuesday, including an excited selfie from the Roots' drummer/bandleader Questlove with Tommy Stinson. It read: "Friggin Tommy Stinson! #TheReplacements return to NBC!!!!! #NewEra! #Legends"
The "Tonight Show's" music booker Jonathan Cohen -- who tweeted last week that he had been following around the 'Mats for a year trying to book them on the show -- sent out this photo of them with Richards. It read, "Keef and the Mats in the hallway after @fallontonight. I am a very happy and lucky fellow."
We're still looking for Westerberg to set up his Instagram account but can't hardly wait.