BY TIM HINELY
Who would have thunk that the Replacements would still be playing reunion gigs after the three Riot Fest gigs they played in 2013 (including a late Saturday night in Byers, Colorado that I attended). Well, here they were on a Sunday night in Denver at the Fillmore (the only show on this tour that apparently wasn’t sold out, or so I’m told). They came ready, willing and able. The “Back By Unpopular Demand” tour. Bring it.
The openers were four punks from Wyoming called Teenage Bottlerocket who have apparently been on the scene for number of years, the perennial openers, I’m told.They played some hyper-speed punk with some sticky melodies and one song toward the end I heard of medley go from Van Halens’ “Panama” into The Ramones “Blitzkrieg Bop.” They have a new record out called Tales from Wyoming.
Paul Westerberg and company (company being original Replacement Tommy Stinson on bass along with David Minehan on guitar and punk rock session guy Josh Freese on drums). I heard one of my least favorite songs of all time by Iron Butterfly, over the loud speakers as the ‘mats were getting ready to come on and they finally sauntered on stage a little after 9 PM. Though Westerberg still mumbles things, the guy has apparently been sober for several years (decades).
They opened with “I’m In Trouble” and from there kicked right into “Kissin’ in Action” and then right into “Little Mascara.’ This wasn’t a “Hey, we’re gonna unveil some new material for you” kinda set – although they did perform a somewhat ramshackle “new” song called “Whole Foods Blues” that they had officially unveiled a few nights earlier in Chicago.” No, they knew what the crowd wanted and they delivered. Speaking of which, plenty was brought from 1985’s Tim including ‘Waitress in the Sky,” “On the Bus” and Bastards of Young” while they also dipped into their classic, 1984’s Let it Be with “I Will Dare” and “Sixteen Blue” and “Seen Your Video.”
Westerberg walked off stage during the final “Never Mind”, letting the band finish out the set but then came back out for two acoustic encores, “Skyway” and “If Only You Were Lonely.” The rest of the band then came back out and finished out the encores with “Left of the Dial” and ending with, of course, “Alex Chilton.’
The band thanked the crowd and ambled off stage, knowing they gave the crowd what they wanted. I’m sure first-timers left satisfied and us geezers surely did as well (getting the final word from my group of friends). Though it’s nice to dream and wish you were seeing the same bunch who would cut sets short due to drunkenness and wear dresses (RIP- Bob Stinson) this Replacement mach whatever are sober and (mostly) direct and sounded great.