(Editor's Note: Catch the Replacements live on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon tomorrow evening — 28 years since NBC banned them from their network after a wild night on SNL)

Thoughts & Photos: J.D. Scholten

As a general concert rule, I am not one for reunion tours. However, this is the Replacements! The Bumbershoot show was only their 9th show in the past two years after 22 years of silence. I was in, despite having so many questions. What were they going to sound like? Will they be belligerent, or even coherent? Now that these ‘bastards of young’ have grown up and their youth has evaded them, who are these ‘Mats?

It was very much a Paul and Tommy show, the only two remaining original members. They bantered, joked with the audience and continued to be endearingly arrogant. Despite being shells of their former raucous youth, they were out there having fun and doing things their way.

They played the 6pm Main Stage slot, oddly between Schoolboy Q and the Head and the Heart. Westerberg even referenced, Maybe when we got older we can play when it’s dark out. The slot seemed symbolic of their career – where they never reached a mainstream audience or had that much commercial success; in spite of their loyal fans and the critics’ admiration.

They immediately silenced all doubts as they jumped out of the gates with “Favorite Thing” followed by three songs off their first album, the punk filled Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash. As the show progressed, they showed their diversity and evolution of sound by playing most of the highlights off — Let It Be, Tim, Please to Meet Me, and Don’t Tell a Soul. In typical ‘Mats fashion, their cover of the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” was only played partially and it seemed like it could have been rehearsed a bit more (if it was at all). For an encore, Mr. Westerberg leaped off in front of the stage to perform “Left of the Dial,” mostly with his back turned to the crowd, before they radiantly closed with “Alex Chilton.”

This tour is producing consistently great, crowd-pleasing shows. Gone are the legendary days when you never knew what you were going to get with these unapologetic, unpredictable drunkards. At times, Paul stumbled over a few of the lyrics, he didn’t shy away from any use of expletives, he smoked between songs (and sometimes during), and his guitar cable came undone, but those imperfections are part of the charm.

Maybe it’s maturation or maybe it’s them paying it back to the fans for all the years of uncertainty, but whatever it is, it is working and enjoyable. I went to see the Replacements; something that I never thought was going to happen. View the full setlist HERE. Cheers, FYM.


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