I had already purchased my tickets to see the Replacements reunion concert in L.A. where I lived but I found out that the tour was kicking off that night in Seattle. I’d been a Replacements fan since high school, and in fact, I had last seen them play in 1991 at their penultimate show in Milwaukee. That, in fact, is probably my next “best gig of all time” — no one knew they’d break up the following day on stage in Chicago. In Milwaukee, they played at our annual music festival, Summerfest, and the Marcus Amphitheatre was packed with college rock fans slamming beers and fist-pumping to Midwestern rock anthems.
I landed at SeaTac, hopped in my rental car and drove to the venue where I promptly purchased a scalped ticket out front for who-knows-how-much-over the sale price. It didn’t matter. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, even though it was only two actual members of the Mats. (Not unlike that last show in Milwaukee where only Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson remained from the original line-up.) I walked into the venue alone, a rare occurrence (I always bring a friend to a show). I cozied up to some folks who noticed I was alone and took me in. We debated what songs they would play. This is the only band that I know 100% of their songs. The Young Fresh Fellows played an enjoyable opening set but the crowd was palpably eager to hear what Rolling Stone had famously dubbed “the last, best band of the Eighties.”
With the curtain still closed and the stage jet black, the Replacements started playing “Seen Your Video,” which delighted me as I don’t think they played that one live too often. We were rapturous and when the curtain finally opened halfway through the song, we erupted in applause. Westerberg was wearing a T-shirt with a few letters painted on which, by the end of the tour, would spell out: “I HAVE ALWAYS LOVED YOU. NOW I MUST WHORE MY PAST.” Good times. For some reason, there was a pup tent on stage which was either passed around like an inflatable or maybe Paul got in it — the details are fuzzy.