7 Feb. 25, 1984, Duffy’s. In the middle of a raucous covers set a few months after the release of “Let It Be” and a few months before “Tim,” a couple of knuckleheads (OK, my brother Jay and I) rolled a garbage can on to the stage of this now-defunct south Minneapolis club. As it came to a stop and nudged his elbow, Paul opened his eyes and gave it a, “Yeah, that about sums it up” smirk, and Bob hoisted the thing up onto the drum riser and hopped in. The band blazed into “Customer,” Bob lost his balance, and the entire can’s contents — beer bottles, cups, crap and Bob’s diaper — came spilling out on to the stage and us. Without missing a beat, Bob popped back up and, half-naked, killed the guitar solo. I can still see Pete Jesperson laughing and whistling from the soundboard.
6 May 16, 1981, steps of Coffman Memorial Union. While still in the studio recording their Twin/Tone Records debut, “Sorry Ma, Forgot To Take Out The Trash” at nearby Blackberry Way studios, the band took to the great outdoors of the University of Minnesota campus for a wake-the-college-kids Saturday morning show that was quickly shut down by the Minneapolis police, the first in a series of ‘Mats cop-stoppages.
5 October 18-22, 1985. Five-night stand for “Tim,” 7th Street Entry. Raw, free, glammy, sweaty, punky, profound — and the wildest week of pure rock ’n’ roll that that storied stage has ever hosted: Band and audience joined as one, and the anti-rock star credo that “anyone can do it” in full bloom.
4 The unannounced shows. So many of these have gone undocumented, but part of the ‘Mats magic was that when they were in town, they were itching to play and/or experiment, and you had to keep your ear to the (pre-Internet) ground because they might pull a miss-it-at-your-own-peril hoot or deliver a rock show for the ages at the Entry, Uptown or Upper Deck that would be the talk of the record stores the next day.
3 Feb. 7, 1991, Orpheum Theater. With Chris Mars in the audience, Steve Foley on drums, Slim on guitar, the Gear Daddies opening and a set list heavy on “Don’t Tell A Soul” and “All Shook Down,” it was clear the end was near. Who knew it would be 23 years until anything calling itself the Replacements would hoist its flag again?
2 Feb. 24, 1984. Regina High School. Fresh from releasing “Let It Be” and working on the tunes that would end up on “Tim,” the band played a fierce two-hour set at the long-gone south Minneapolis all-girls Catholic school. Playing to 1,000 kids their own age, the band was locked in and inspired. For the encore, Paul flipped off the capacity crowd, who returned the love with a chant-request of — what else? — “F— School” that was honored and ended with Tommy smashing his Rickenbacker in a display of teenage kicks that chimes on today.
1 Sept. 13, 2014. Midway Stadium, St. Paul. Thousands of old- and first-timers gathered in a doomed minor league baseball stadium, listening/singing along to all those songs we’ve all been listening/singing along to, alone, all these years? Do I have to say it? Can’t hardly …
Jim Walsh is the Minneapolis-based author of “The Replacements: All Over But The Shouting: An Oral History” and (with Dennis Pernu) “The Replacements: Waxed Up Hair and Painted Shoes: The Photographic History.”