Bob Mould in Cardiff
Internet research suggests that it was in 1989 that I first saw Bob Mould, at a shockingly badly attended gig at Cardiff University – following the break-up of seminal Minneapolis punk heroes Husker Du and before he helped to invent grunge (or maybe “emo”) with Sugar. So, when a gig was announced at Cardiff’s Globe, I eventually managed to organise myself sufficiently to purchase a ticket – shortly before the gig sold out, and his subsequent appearance at the high-profile BBC 6 Music Festival in Bristol was confirmed.
In support were Cardiff-based four-piece The Estrons, who have been tipped for big things, their single “Make A Man” getting some airplay at the moment. There were hints of old-fashioned hard rock, overlain with indie sensitivity; and singer Tali’s raspy vocals cut through rather powerfully. Very impressive.
By the time Bob came on, the venue had filled up to capacity and he belied his avuncular appearance by rocking hard from the off. Frankly, the sound mix was pretty muddy, such that it took time to register each song, although he began with Sugar favourites “A Good Idea” and “Changes” – indeed, much of the set seemed to lean on this, the most commercially successful era of his career. His newer, solo material came across strongly, though – “Voices In My Head”, and “I Don’t Know You Anymore” being exemplary melodic rock. Sugar’s classic “Hoover Dam” was an unexpectedly moving stand-out moment for me. Towards the end, he played some Husker Du tunes, kicking off the five-song encore with “Flip Your Wig”; it also included, oddly, a version of Generation X’s “Your Generation (coincidentally, the first band I ever went to see live, back in 1979). He was even good-natured enough to lead the audience in singing “Happy Birthday” to bassist Jason Narducy; the drummer being Jon Wurster, another punk rock luminary.
The day after, one remains somewhat deafened, but heartened.