Sound on Sound Review: Bob Mould

Hüsker Dü/Sugar frontman revives might + melody

Bob Mould relies on a simple formula: smashing pop hooks and sweet melodies against a concrete wall of slamming drums and painfully loud guitar. Just after 8pm Sunday, after the rain stopped, he cleared a sonic path through a suddenly primordial Sherwood Forest.

Photo by David Brendan Hall

Mould’s pop/punk style has been done to death since the 56-year-old New Yorker mastered it leading Minneapolis’ college rock heroes Hüsker Dü in the Eighties and refined it a decade later in Sugar. He’s recently revisited the formula to widespread acclaim on a trio of solo LPs. All prove there’s good reason for their author’s lack of stylistic deviation: Nobody – and we mean nobody – does it better.

Besides his distinctive guitar playing – drone notes in even the easiest chord progressions – Mould simply writes better melodi-punk than anyone working. He ought to, given his 35-plus years of practice. That means songs taken from his latest album Patch the Sky had the same crowd-pleasing impact as tunes drawn from the Dü and Sugar inventories.

Hiding behind previous act Baio’s gothic smoke and lighting, the bandleader and his five-years-strong rhythm section roared into “Flip Your Wig,” more brutally powerful than Hüsker’s original. Skipping any stage banter, the trio kept up a relentless pace, zooming through the new LP’s “The End of Things,” Sugar’s “If I Can’t Change Your Mind,” and the Dü’s “Chartered Trips” with the same energy and commitment as a band 20 years younger.

Ending on a shredding take of the recently revived Hüsker gem “In a Free Land,” Mould and company proved that the might + melody equation – in the correct hands – can be as righteously rocking now as it was three decades ago.

Sound on Sound set list, 11.6.16

“Flip Your Wig” (Hüsker Dü)
“I Apologize” (Hüsker Dü)
“A Good Idea” (Sugar)
“The End of Things”
“The Descent”
“You Say You”
“Hold On”
“If I Can’t Change Your Mind” (Sugar)
“Hey Mr. Grey”
“Hoover Dam” (Sugar)
“Losing Time”
“Something I Learned Today” (Hüsker Dü)
“Chartered Trips” (Hüsker Dü)
“In a Free Land” (Hüsker Dü)

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Bob Mould, Sound On Sound 2016, Hüsker Dü, Sugar

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