Pascal (daiwel) wrote in disaonline,

Bob Mould at the Rockhal in Esch-sur-Alzette (11th November 2014)

While our French speaking neighbours were celebrating Armistice Day, and the Germans to the East the beginning of their Carnival season, Luxembourg was happy to welcome Bob Mould, one of the most important figures in American punk history. Starting in the late Seventies with Hüsker Dü, originally a hardcore punk band before turning more melodic, he also had a successful indie career in the early Nineties with Sugar, and of course also a very active solo career covering everything from singer/songwriter over electro to punk rock.

Tonight he came with two musicians on a punk rock mission, but first we had to suffer through a gig from British post punk trio Young Knives. These guys may have more than a decade’s worth of album releases, but they were totally unfitting to open for Bob Mould. Their sound had this modern thing where the guitarist either plays single notes, or when he plays chords, he doesn’t play them well or interestingly. This was the kind of music the kids listen to at local festivals like Rock-A-Field or Sonic Visions, but it was at the wrong place with the more mature audience tonight. Was this some pay-to-play thing? Fortunately the schedule was rigid, and the band had to open at half past eight, even though there weren’t many people yet.

At half past nine, it was time for Bob Mould who also had to play in front of only 100 to 200 people. One might think that such a legendary figure should have been able to attract at least twice the amount of fans, but it was the middle of the working week, not the most ideal slot for such a show. Bob Mould may look very unprepossessing, with his bald head, grey beard and glasses, but give him a guitar and 100+ dB, and he will blow your mind. He started the evening with two classics from Hüsker Dü (Flip Your Wig, Hate Paper Doll), before turning to his solo material. What was the most incredible thing was how dynamic his performance was. The sound may not have been optimal, but Bob Mould had such a charisma and gravitas that the audience couldn’t help being mesmerised, even if it meant being half deaf the following day. He played for well over an hour, surprised towards the end with another Hüsker Dü classic (I Apologise), and not only I would have wanted one or two more encores.

I won’t go deeper into the show, because frankly I am only truly familiar with his early days, but he showed tonight, with his really able backing band, that his solo material also still has a lot of punch. If only he showed better taste when it comes to opening acts!

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