Concert Review: Bob Mould / Jason Narducy @ Lark Hall, 10/17/2023
Bob Mould may have turned 63 the day before he took the stage at Lark Hall on Tuesday night, but his solo electric set was the kind of passionate, thoughtful, and loud punk rock that is both timeless and forever young.
In a 22-song set that just never quit, Mould ripped through material from nearly all the stages of his long career as a songwriter and distortion-pedal legend. This marked Mould’s second stop at Lark Hall on the Solo Electric tour (he last played in Albany on 5/18/22) to support his Distortion career retrospective box set releases and Blue Hearts (Merge Records, 2020).
Mould joked that we were all a year and a half older, but not much else had changed. The Tuesday night crowd was noticeably lighter than it was two years ago, but Mould also appeared lighter in spirit. Back in 2022, we were all still wearing masks inside the club, and it was great to see the audience members screaming the lyrics back at Mould this time around.
Fans of Hüsker Dü got a heavy dose of material from 1985’s Flip Your Wig (a personal favorite) and a nice double dose off of Zen Arcade (“Something I Learned Today” and “Chartered Trips”).
Mould also leaned into material off of “Blue Hearts.” I’d honestly forgotten how much I loved this album, which has the lyrical edge of Hüsker Dü with the bright energy of his best work with Sugar. “Siberian Butterfly” is a catchy earworm, “Next Generation” is an urgent call to action, and “Forecast of Rain” serves as social commentary that encourages independent thinking.
While much of this set did overlap with the tunes Mould played in Albany last time, it was extremely exciting to hear three new, unreleased songs that Mould is workshopping while on his solo tour. “Breathing Room,” “Hard To Get,” and “When Your Heart Is Broken” were all excellent entries into the Mould songbook and I’m anxious to hear the studio product when these tracks eventually get released.
Mould is a tall, commanding presence and a loud one, dialing his amp up after a few tunes and jumping around the stage with the energy of a man half his age. To his credit, his renditions of classic Hüsker Dü songs like “Something I Learned Today” were so engaging that I rarely found myself missing Grant Hart’s drumming. This is saying a lot since I rate Hart as my favorite punk drummer, and since his death in 2017, I miss him greatly. Hopefully, if there is a next time that Mould comes to Albany, he will consider doing so with his great band that has reinvigorated his album releases since he signed with Merge in 2014 and formed a trio with longtime Superchunk drummer Jon Wurster and bassist Jason Narducy.
Narducy was in tow on Tuesday night but never shared the stage with Mould. In his fantastic opening set, Narducy came across as an affable and cool punk grandpa who has lived a few lives in the punk minor leagues, with some pretty amazing stints in the majors supporting Mould and playing guitar for Sunny Day Real Estate. He certainly has major league talent, which was fully on display in his beautiful arpeggiations and vocals on “Satellite” and his Bash and Pop/Replacements-like tune “Untry Love.” It was also Narducy’s daughter’s birthday and he recounted the story of her birth: playing a gig with Mould, running to the airport in his sweaty gig clothes, and just barely making it to the hospital on time to witness the miracle of birth. It turns out it was her birthday on Tuesday, so Narducy turned his phone on us, the audience, as we all sang “Happy Birthday” together.
When the house lights went on for Narducy to film us, I noted that most of the crowd was aging Gen Xers, but I was pleasantly surprised to see some 20-somethings among us wearing Hüsker Dü T-shirts. The punks may be older, but the “Next Generation” will have to carry the torch (Narducy name-checked the upcoming California punk band Destroy Boys as his daughter’s favorite band and told us all we need to check them out).
Hopefully, the DIY spirit of music that Narducy and Mould embody will persist. It energized me on what would have been an otherwise uneventful Tuesday night and will carry me through the work week until I can find that feeling at the next show.
Bob Mould Setlist:
- The War
- Flip Your Wig
- I Apologize
- Hoover Dam
- No Reservations
- Siberian Butterfly
- I’m Sorry, Baby, But You Can’t Stand In My Light Anymore
- The Descent
- Forecast of Rain
- Next Generation
- Breathing Room
- Hard to Get
- Too Far Down
- When Your Heart Is Broken
- Celebrated Summer
- Voices In My Head
- If I Can’t Change Your Mind
- See A Little Light
- Something I Learned Today
- Chartered Trips
- Hate Paper Doll
- Makes No Sense At All