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Bob Mould Band / North Atlantic Oscillation – Oran Mor, Gasgow – Saturday 18th May 2013

Bob Mould’s visits to Scotland have been very infrequent for the best part of two decaded with yesterday’s show at Oran Mor just his fourth in 28 years by my reckoning.

Soit was nice to see the increased interest from the not quite full show at the ABC2 a few years ago to this one selling out a few days in advance.

Certainly the Sugar reissues and the subsequent ‘Silver Age’ have increased his commercial profile and reminded people of his existence but the same period also seems to have reinvigorated Bob musically. Certainly the current live line-up (Jason Narducy on bass and Jon Wurster on drums) is the best band Bob has played with since Sugar.

For all that even UK shows aren’t that frequent, there’s an air of familiarity about much of the set for this veteran. ‘Copper Blue’ has featured significantly since the ‘Body of Song’ shows eight years ago and some of the HD songs have become staples in recent years.

Now when the material is as brilliant as that, it’s never a hardship to hear but there were a few nice additions to the set from last year’s London show.

Best of those undoubtedly was ‘Come Around’ from ‘Beaster’, a record that Bob rarely revisits. But older HD songs like ‘Flip Your Wig’, ‘Something I Learned Today’ and a particularly blazing ‘In A Free Land’ added a nice touch of variety to proceedings.

In such exalted company, the ‘Silver Age’ stood up well. Neither ‘Steam of Hercules’ nor set-closer ‘Keep Believing’ featured in last year’s set but both more than held their own with the looped guitar from the latter spanning the gap effectively between the band departing the stage and returning for the encore .

We also had the rare sight of a Bob technical problem with his guitar amp gradually dropping out with increasing frequency during ‘Hoover Dam’ before cutting out completely before the song ended.

The only disappointment was the relatively short set, a couple short of last year’s London show. Perhaps the band arrived late, certainly I didn’t expect to hear them still soundchecking when we arrived for a drink beforehand at around 6:20. But another encore would have been nice.

Support came from North Atlantic Oscillation, who at times reminded me of a straighter Mercury Rev. I probably really enjoyed half of their set but the other half seemed a little nebulous.

They didn’t seem to be having the greatest time either with the singer/guitarist seemingly unhappy about something for the first few songs. In the end probably a scored draw.

PS I’m starting to think that I need a word with Mr Mould about his scheduling. Certainly after missing the Grand Gestures LP launch last year, it was hugely disappointing to have to miss the Book Group E.P. launch on Saturday due to a another clash.

Setlist

1. The Act We Act  2. A Good Idea  3. Changes  4. Helpless  5. Hoover Dam  6. Star Machine  7. The Descent  8. Round The City Square  9. Steam of Hercules  10. Come Around  11.  Your Favorite Thing  12. Could You Be The One? 13. I Apologize 14. Chartered Trips  15. Keep Believing

Encore

16. If I Can’t Change Your Mind  17. Flip Your Wig  18. Something I Learned Today  19. In A Free Land

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