Feb. 21-23: San Francisco/Los Angeles
Feb 21, 2005 @ The Great American Music Hall, San Francisco
Thank you to the person who sent me this annotated set list for the show and sorry I’ve lost your name in the intervening years :/
Merry Go Round | Someone Take the Wheel | Live Forever | Makin’ Me Go | Let The Bad Times Roll | As Far As I Know | Kiss Me on the Bus | Final Hurrah | AAA | Mr. Rabbit | Knockin’ On Mine | I’ll Be You | Psychopharmacology | Valentine | Born For Me | High Time | Lookin’ Up In Heaven | Skyway (Kevin stood next to the drums, shaking some maracas, Paul turned and said “I knew there was a white man shakin’ that thing”) | What A Day (For A Night) | Achin’ To Be | Swingin’ Party (“We sound like a fuckin’ drunk Holiday Inn band”) | Love Untold | I Think I Love You | Ten Years Gone (Led Zep cover – just a snippet of first verse) | Only A Hobo | Can’t Hardly Wait | I Will Dare (broke a beautiful Les Paul Jr. guitar and encouraged Jim to get in a few kicks as well. During the carnage, Paul managed to cut his head and start bleeding. Uhm “rock and roll”?) | Now I Wonder
Crackle & Drag (Paul solo) | Alex Chilton | Left Of The Dial
“Seems like odd things often happen at shows in The City. Last nights show at Great American Music Hall was no exception. Paul came out wearing black slacks, polished black shoes, a colorfully striped shirt, a silky tie, vibrant green jacket and sporty grey roadster cap. He jumped right into Merry Go Round and things seemed off to a good start. But the mood changed oddly as the show progressed- sometimes vitally alive and lively, and sometimes just sort of goofy. In the middle of a beautiful rendition of Skyway, the lead guitarist, Kevin Bowe began to play a shaker (marimba?) and Paul suddenly stopped and said “What the f…..” Turning to see it was Kevin playing, he said, “I knew it had to be a white guy doing that!” Michael Bland just cracked up! Later, during the bridge in Swingin’ Party Paul said, What the fuck, we sound like a drunk Holiday Inn in band.” More laugh… but it dawned on me that maybe at that point he was right.
Every thing began to drag, the band pumped it up again and tried their best to infuse some energy. But the crowd was little help. There were certainly some enthusiastic folks on hand, but generally the response seemed just sort of flat. Paul and band played with fire and gusto on several numbers- Knockin’ on Mine just smoked- but, as reported with the Portland show- some technical difficulties arose, at one point rupturing the momentum of the evening. Paul’s guitar cut out and we was handed a semi-hollow body Gibson. He could get no sound from this instrument either and flipped the guitar through the air. Fortunately, it was caught by a stage hand member. Paul was then handed a beautiful flat brown-stained double cutaway (Les Paul perhaps?) which he had played beautifully earlier on. This guitar also produced no sound and in a flair of frustration, he whipped the guitar and strap over his head and, holding it by the body, quick as lightening snapped the neck in two over the top of his Marshal cabinet. Paul was pissed and, personally, I was mortified. I suspect, from bits I caught outside later, that Paul was very upset about the whole incident. Adding to the disruption, when he broke the guitar, Paul apparently injured his head. He rubbed the side of his head complaining that he’d hurt himself, but refused a towel brought out to him and tried to get back to the music.
The pace never fully resumed though he did perform a lovely acoustic, Crackle and Drag. After the show, about a dozen of us stood out by the tour bus in the cool damp San Francisco evening air to thank Paul for the show. I talked with Kevin Bowe briefly about the different moods of the different show. He mentioned Seattle and I piped in that my brother had been to that show and was absolutely knocked out by it. Kevin agreed that the show was excellent. He said it’s fun sometimes to fool around on stage like this evening but he really liked it when We (and he thumped his chest over his heart) play from here”.
After nearly an hour, Paul emerged from the theater looking a little for than shaky and dazed. Sitting on the bus steps in a casual change of clothes, he looked bedraggled, tired and melancholy, but very patiently and kindly spoke with each person or couple in line. My wife and I thanked Paul and he and I exchanged brief stories about long lapses in seeing live music, said words of admiration for Keith Richards (“I love Keith” he said heartily), and talked briefly about his plans for the Late Late show. As we left I glanced back and caught Paul’s lonely gaze.
Paul rocks with all his heart, but there’s also that lonely, lovely side, and that’s what we saw as we walked off into to damp night, heads buzzing with the reverberations of sound, and hearts full of another kind of music. ” — BrianLux
Concert review: Alt-rock icon Westerberg’s still bloody got it – Tony Hicks, Contra Costa Times
Photos by Mitch Harris and Ryan Kirkpatrick
Feb 22, 2005 @ Henry Fonda Theatre, Los Angeles
Paul made a very funny appearance on LA’s Indie 103 FM on “Jonesy’s Juke Box” with Steve Jones (Sex Pistols). Paul dropped the f-bomb and swapped guilty pleasures with Steve, who fessed up to listen to Boston while he was in The Sex Pistols. Paul shared his appreciation of Foghat and The Bay City Rollers. You can listen to the show on YouTube, courtesy of BobStinsonsGhost.
“The setlist was almost identical to the Vancouver set, albeit in a different order, minus “Can’t Hardly Wait,” “I Will Dare,” and “Lookin’ Up In Heaven,” and plus “Live Forever,” “All Over Again,” and “Only a Hobo.”
The great thing about Paul is that his worst shows and his best can often be one and the same, and I think tonight was an astounding example of how that can be. I’d have loved to have been there tonight with someone who’d never seen Paul before, just to try and register what would have been their utter bafflement. How can a man keep his spirit so fully invested in a show that appears at every stop to be slipping from his grasp? And in the middle of such a creaking, toppling set, how is it possible that certain numbers — “Folk Star,” “Left of the Dial,” “I Think I Love You,” “As Far As I Know,” a few others — get spat out like perfectly cut diamonds?
What might have been the evening’s saving grace — and in fact had the potential to be an all-time great Westerberg moment — came in the encore (there was only one) when Lucinda Williams joined him for a country duet that I’m guessing is one of his songs she’s rumored to be preparing for her next record. (ed note: I was told it was a cover of “Honky Tonk Angel”) Sadly, it was a train wreck, and ended with Paul stating, “Well that was a perfect humiliation for a really wonderful artist.” Lucinda, who we all know adores Paul, graciously waved off his disclaimer but also exited the stage but quick.
It didn’t help matters that a few assholes in the audience simply didn’t understand the concept of “enough is enough” when it comes to shouting irrelevant requests at the top of their lungs. (Hint for newcomers: if Paul doesn’t respond to your fourth consecutive shriek of “Uuuunsaaaaaatssifiiiied!” with, “Oh, good idea! Let’s do that one!” chances are you’re wasting your breath with your seventh and eighth.) You could sense Paul’s tolerance beginning to crack when he sarcastically said to someone near the front, “Oh, sure. ‘Treatment Bound.’ Here it is right now,” and then went into “Love Untold” and inserted the words “…in treatment” wherever grammatically possible. (“They were gonna meet… in treatment! On a Rocky Mountain street… in treatment!”) Finally toward the end of the show, to Mr. Literally Unsatisfied, Paul gave a highly irritated “Just sush! Ssh!”
And yet, it’s unlikely that any artist alive believes more strongly than Paul in the potential for a rock ‘n’ roll show to miraculously redeem itself, and that somehow, out of this song or that one, the groove will emerge and carry everyone home. It’s only in that kind of faith (and with the support of one awesome frickin’ band) that one can imagine that Paul would work as hard as he did through an evening full of botched lyrics, guitar issues, misfiring vocals, and fans who don’t know the difference between enthusiasm and obnoxiousness. Sadly, though, the groove didn’t come, and tonight goes down as one of those classically paradoxical Westerbergian shows — full of spirit and even full of chops, but a mess nonetheless. It was one of those about which Paul might say, “But you should have seen us the next night!” And damn I wish I could go tomorrow, ’cause chances are he’ll tear the roof of the sucker.”
— Darrin Navarro
“My first exposure to The Replacements was back in 83/84, when they opened for X at Mississippi Nights in St. Louis. They sucked, and less than a few of the X faithful gathered got it – booing them mercilessly. As X took the stage, Exene lambasted the crowd for not realizing the brilliance of the ‘Mats. It took a few years, but I finally witnessed that brilliance at an infamously amazing Roxy show in ’86. Not having followed Paul Westerberg’s work too closely over the last decade, I was curious if the rumors that he had “mellowed” were true. Gladly, that was not the case Tuesday night.
“It looks like we are watching a rehearsal” – anonymous voice, 2/22
This is a strong band and there is a sense he is reveling in a renewal – a rebirth of the raw rock and roll spirit, and the apparent esprit de corps is also working in our favor, adding lively onstage interplay and ratcheting up the volume. Opening with “Merry Go Round” and “Someone Take the Wheel”, the set list spanned the last 20 years, with brief detours into covers (Dylan’s “Only a Hobo”, “Star, Star” from the Stones, and Billy Joe Shaver’s “Live Forever”), before finally closing with the one-two punch of “Alex Chilton” and “Left of the Dial.” The minor flaw was there was no representation from Let It Be.
Paul’s vocals were raw with emotion, and clear. Sonically, the guitars rang loud and pure, if not always in tune. (And Kevin Bowe could’ve been louder.) The solid rhythm section of Jim Bouquist and Michael Bland prevented more than its share of derailments, propelling the group steadily down the tracks even as the songs swayed in the winds, threatening to tip over from time to time. One false move and it all goes flying off the tracks. And there were several train wreck moments, which is to be expected when an artist is working on the edge, dangling way over the precipice with no fear for his own (artistic) safety.
When it works, it transcends entertainment. When it doesn’t, it still can shimmer brightly. Like translating the first verses of “Kiss Me on the Bus” into blues – an inspired segue from “I’ve Got a Mind to Give up Living”. Had this band been together for more than 3 months, they likely would’ve pulled it off brilliantly. In fact, they almost did. Even with less than stellar execution, it proved the point that there is an underlying genius at work. And then there are the little things, like responding to a request for “Treatment Bound” by incorporating the word “treatment” several times into “Love Untold”. Not many songwriter/performers would dare perform that kind of impromptu surgery (or self-mutilation) of their songs.
“Who is that – it looks like Lucinda Williams” – anonymous voice, 2/22
The encore duet with Lucinda Williams would probably classify as a train wreck.
“I wish he liked his music as much as we do” – anonymous voice, 2/22
A rocking event, and proof that no matter how old we get, rock and roll at it’s purest level still abides in our hearts – and can be set free simply with a well –played, almost in tune Gibson powered by a Marshall stack turned up all the way.
PS: It was fun hanging with some new found friends and fellow Mats fans at the Frolic Room prior to the show.”
— Robert Thomas Kuhlmann
Indie rock hero Paul Westerberg reclaims his legacy at the Henry Fonda Theatre – Richard Cromelin, LA Times
Paul Westerberg @ Henry Fonda Music Box Theatre – Roy Trakin, Paste
Feb 23, 2005 @ Henry Fonda Theatre, Los Angeles
Knockin’ On Mine | Kiss Me on the Bus | AAA | Mr. Rabbit | Merry Go Round | Live Forever | Someone Take the Wheel (w/ Terry Reid) | Makin’ Me Go | When Will We Arrive? | As Far As I Know | Let the Bad Times Roll | Little Mascara | Valentine -> Happy | High Time | Psychopharmacology | First Glimmer | If Only You Were Lonely | What a Day (For a Night) | Waitress In the Sky | Love Untold | Little GTO (tease) | Final Hurrah -> MPLS | Dust My Broom | I’ll Be You | Batman | Jingle -> Folk Star | I Will Dare | I Think I Love You | Can’t Hardly Wait | Crackle & Drag | Borstal Breakout | I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend | Born for Me (w/ Lucinda Williams) | Alex Chilton | Cherry Cherry -> It’s All Over Now -> Return To Sender | Bye Bye Johnny
Given the reviews of this show, it seems somehow appropriate that the only pictures I could find were two tiny blurry shots of Paul and Lucinda.
And I found a partial video of “First Glimmer” from one of the shows as well.
“For me, the highlight of the show was “If Only You Were Lonely.” The version last night was almost sentimental and, in that fashion, very sweet. Paul seemed very into doing the song and didn’t flub a single lyric, and in fact improvised a few choice new lines that, sadly, now escape me. He said the song was dedicated to some fans from the English contingent who had wanted to hear it the previous night.
I’m not sure if these UK fans included Terry Reid, who, as mentioned earlier, joined the band on “Someone Take the Wheel.” When Paul invited Reid onto the stage, he did so by saying that, “There’s a couple of high parts in this song that only Terry Reid can hit,” which led me to believe only that they were truly difficult for Paul to sing, not that Reid actually would make an appearance. I had no idea he was a fan (but then again, why would I?), and I was surprised he would even be there, cult legend that he is. Unfortunately, from my vantage in the front row, between Paul and Kevin, the sound mix was sort of impenetrable and I could hear Reid’s contribution only barely. He looked a bit wobbly, though, and the climactic scream of “Somebody *taaaaaaaake* the wheel” — which Paul had nailed so soundly on night one — went unsung by Reid, a real missed opportunity given that it was the specific line I imagine Paul had invited him up to sing.
Overall, the show wasn’t quite a train wreck, although the duration was spent in peril of flying off the tracks.
The first show, which I overheard a few exiting that night praise as “solid” and even “tight,” was positively professional in relation to the second, which was — to use that favorite adjective of those describing things Westerbergian — shambolic to say the least. Paul seemed more interested in hijinks than in playing music and appeared bored with playing about 90% of his own material. I do not attribute this attitude to drunkeness, as somebody else here has written. A solitary glass of red wine sat atop Paul’s amp for nearly the whole of the evening and was consumed only during the encore, which was nevertheless so sloppy that being drunk would at least have been an excuse. Paul seemed especially fond of hurling objects into the crowd, pre-eminent among the projectiles being the aforementioned tomato and guitar. (He did not, however, hurl the first tomato in response to those affirming their attendance at the first show, but because someone was annoying him by shining a light in his eyes. Paul edged to the front of the stage menacingly with the tomato — which he apparently had been carrying around in the *pocket* of his fluorescent green blazer! — and peered into the audience. “Shine that light on me one more time, motherf*cker.” The anonymous offender seemingly could not resist the opportunity to have said tomato chucked at him by The Paul Westerberg and obliged, at which point Paul picked his shot and gleefully chucked the fruit.)
The band took virtually no break in between the first portion of the set and the encore, strolling backstage momentarily only to re-emerge, with Paul briefly taking the place of Michael Bland (or “Herb,” as he had been identified the first night) at the drums. Lucinda Williams returned to duet with Paul on “Born for Me,” but she had to read the lyrics from a folded-up piece of paper she had withdrawn from her back pocket. Paul shrugged at her: “It’s OK; I don’t know ’em, either.” The pair gelled no better than they had on the first night, and again Lucinda made a hasty exit. At this point Paul broke out the Neil Diamond, which eventually morphed into a cover of Elvis’ “Return to Sender.” “We’re really goin’ in the toilet now,” drawled Paul as the band plodded along behind him. I think he actually played one more song after that, but I confess to not being able to remember what it was. All I can say is that the show ended much like a Replacements show — that is, without a strong closer and with many in the audience completely befuddled. But the performance bore all the intimacy of a shy garage band briefly rolling up the door to give curious neighborhood kids a look. Never was Paul anything but himself — clowning, careening and, occasionally, rocking — and those who had loved and continue to love the Replacements were delighted by his and the band’s spontaneity.”
— ‘Me And What Army’