Suagary Sweetness: Bob Mould at the Showbox

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Bob Mould at Sasquatch! 2011. Dave Lichterman photo

“Man, that was 20 years ago, and the songs still sound great,” said a smiling Bob Mould.

His comment came somewhat in disbelief after he plowed through all 10 songs off the album “Copper Blue” in front of an enthusiastic crowd at Showbox at the Market. The record is the 1992 debut album by Mould’s former band Sugar and he’s commemorating its 20-year anniversary by playing it in full on his current tour.

For the most part Mould was dead on with his statement as the “Copper Blue” portion of his 90-minute set which saw him and his band — drummer Jon Wurster of Superchunk and bassist Jason Narducy of Telekinesiss — blaze through the record’s saccahrine-tinged rock. And though the songs are two decades old, they sounded visceral and urgent with Mould flexing his muscles as seasoned guitarist and bristly frontman.

He played through the “Copper Blue” material pretty swiftly which added some underlying aggression to songs like “Changes” and “The Slilm,” and while the songs weren’t rearranged or tinkered with too much, the aggression gave the songs a bit of an edge. This slightly tarnished the shiny power-pop goodness of those songs, but in the case of songs like “Hoover Dam” and “Fortune Teller” the added oomph was welcome as it provided more spirit and energy.

Of course Mould isn’t just known for Sugar material. He has a solid solo catalog and he was also the frontman of Hüsker Dü, one of the most influential indie bands of the ’80s. Hüsker Dü’s impact can be heard on bands ranging from Foo Fighters to the Hold Steady and Mould peppered four Hüsker Dü songs into his set with “I Apologize” and “Celebrated Summer” getting the biggest reactions of the night.

While Mould clearly enjoyed revisiting his past and the fans loved every Hüsker Dü and Sugar song, it’s a shame the songs from his latest solo record “Silver Age” weren’t the show’s centerpiece. The quality of the album, which was released earlier this month, rivals his Sugar material, especially “Keep Believing” and the album’s title track.

Nostalgic tours where hit albums are played in full are becoming de rigueur and the intent of Mould’s tour is to celebrate “Copper Blue” while also showcasing his new material. He did both well, but when his 20-song set came to a close I was left wanting to hear less of the old and more fo the new. Hopefully he will plot another tour specifically for this album, as age has treated Mould’s voice and his sugary approach (punn intented) to songwriting remarkably well.

Bob Mould setlist

The Act We Act*

A Good Idea*

Changes*

Helpless*

Hoover Dam*

The Slim*

If I Can’t Change Your Mind*

Fortune Teller*

Slick*

Man on the Moon*

Star Machine

The Descent

Round the City Square

Circles

Silver Age

I Apologize**

Chartered Trips**

Keep Believing

ENCORE

Celebrated Summer**

Makes No Sense At All**

*Sugar song

** Hüsker Dü song

 

Travis Hay

About Travis Hay

Travis Hay is a professional music journalist who has spent the past 13 years documenting and enjoying Seattle's diverse music scene. In 2009 he established Guerrilla Candy and is currently the site's editor and publisher. He has written for various media outlets including MSN Music, the Seattle-Post Intelligencer, Seattle Weekly, Crosscut.com and others and was the founder and former editor of the defunct music site Ear Candy.