at the Troubadour, February 10

Ex-Husker Dü howler-guitarist Bob Mould packed the house, and that’s no surprise, ’cause even if they don’t buy his solo records, his indie-punk flock will forever hold him dear. Onstage, the appeal was obvious — he’s just a real likable dude, down-to-earth, self-deprecating and jokey, and he sweated through his set with gen-u-wine gusto (not “emo”). It wouldn’t have mattered what he played, but you got the expected faves from the Dü book plus a few from his fine new Body of Song record, during which his and the crowd’s fervor seemed to flag ever so slightly. An objective observer might’ve noticed a lack of dynamic and structural variety in these selections; Mould’s songs benefit from a bit of sonic scenery, such as the electronic touches he’s used to good effect on his last couple of albums. Small matter, overall, as this performance made it easy to appreciate his Middle American brand of charisma.

For sheer originality in the singer-songwriter mode, opener Curt Kirkwood kinda stole the show. The ex-Meat Puppet’s now purveying a more quietly odd form of the rock-folk-blues meltdowns his old band fuzzed out, and starting off in a sincere style with accessible little ditties about his broken heart and ramblin’ on, etc., he gradually got, well, more complex, sprinkling country waltzes with dark-hued and humorously cracked lyrics and some wonderfully surprising guitar chords and finger picking. He looks so normal now, too, which only heightened the songs’ barely suppressed intensity.

—John Payne

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