Bob Mould play Copper Blue / Cloud Nothings – Shepherds Bush 02 Empire, London – 1st June 2012

With Bob Mould, it seems, it always come backs to the power trio. Whereas for a while he was touring as part of a four piece band, recently he’s been performing again as part of a trio with Jason Narducy and drummer Jon Wurster – for the first time in nearly 15 years.

In truth, short of reforming Sugar (and apparently there were attempts made to do exactly that), this is the way that ‘Copper Blue’ should be performed  as a 3 piece – without the distraction of inaudible keyboards.

Whilst there’s been a fair bit of hoopla about the record being performed in its entirety for the first time, in a sense hearing all of ‘Copper Blue’ wasn’t a huge step up from the Body of Song tour when all but 3 tunes from the record were giving an airing. And in some ways the unexpected nature of that set (with the songs peppered throughout the set) would seem  more satisfying than the predictable start to finish approach.

Yet ‘Copper Blue’ en bloc transfers surprisingly well to the live arena. Any band that can open with the first 5 songs from ‘Copper Blue’ has one hell of an act of follow. I always thought that the first three songs overshadowed both ‘Helpless’ and ‘Hoover Dam’ a bit before but that wasn’t the case here. At all.

Whilst ‘Man on the Moon’ can be relied on to deliver a big finale, I did worry it might be a little isolated in this type of setting. However what’s a big help is that the rarely (if ever) played ‘Fortune Teller’ adds the sort of live energy needed to the tail end of the record to carry the whole thing through.

So, all things considered,  it’s just a joy to hear the record from start to finish and the whole band seemed to be loving the experience, none more so than Bob himself.

By the end of the ‘Copper Blue’ portion of the set I was expecting a couple of new tunes and a run through of the usual classics. And whilst there was a fair proportion of the latter, Bob also managed to surprise me more than I expected.

The next three songs were all new – ‘Star Machine’ was perhaps  the closest to Sugar material. Both ‘Round the City Square’ and ‘The Descent’ can be found on the internet and suggest a far heavier direction than of late.

A brooding ‘Circles’ was next up which suggested that the new material was finished with, but no, there was a fourth  new song which has generated the (probably misheard) title for this piece.

A trio of HD classics took us through to a rapturous end to the set with Bob milking the applause for all its worth.

Only one encore – it started brilliantly with ‘Downed’ a Cheap Trick cover sung by Jason, before a couple of familiar tunes in ‘Favorite Thing’ and ‘Makes No Sense …’. The former may have returned the set to Sugar but it was, for me at least, the one disappointment of the evening.

‘Makes No Sense …’ felt like and proved to be the finale – so the slim hope that we might have got a ‘JC Auto’ proved futile.

Looking at it clinically I’m not certain that the show merited a trip to London on its own. Yet, despite the familiarity of much of the material and the predictability of hearing an album from start to finish, it all matched up to lofty expectations.

‘Hi, thanks for coming down early, we’re (inaudible) from Ohio.’

 For 6 or 7 minutes inaudiblefromohio seemed a poor choice of support. Their first couple of tunes came over, on first listen, to be insipid Green Day imitations.

The vocalist wasn’t helping matters as his voice sounded just too close to generic punk rock sneer.  Yet, completely unexpectedly the second tune took off into space on its outtro. Either that or they ran the second and third tunes together (and maybe even the fourth).

Much of the set thereafter was instrumental merging Sonic Youth and Zen Arcade to good effect. To my surprise by the end of the set I was seriously considering getting their album.

Oh yeah, inaudiblefromohio were actually called Cloud Nothings. It’s weird that pre-internet you may not have ever found out who the support act was yet nowadays you can do so within 5 minutes of the set finishing.

 

Setlist

1. The Act We Act  2. A Good Idea  3. Changes  4. Helpless  5. Hoover Dam  6. The Slim  7. If I Can’t Change Your Mind  8. Fortune Teller  9. Slick  10. Man on the Moon  11. Star Machine  12. The Descent  13. Round The City Square  14. Circles  15. ‘Silver Age’?  16. I Apologize  17. Chartered Trips  18. Celebrated Summer

Encore:

19. Downed  (Cheap Trick cover)  20. Your Favourite Thing  21. Makes No Sense At All

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