Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson are rock n’ roll survivors of many musical train wrecks. They are the only original members left in the band but they are and always have been the soul of The Replacements, a post-punk, power-pop, blues based straight ahead rock outfit based out of Minneapolis.
The band formed in 1979 and survived drugs and alcohol issues, general self destructive behavior, several lineup changes and deaths of past members. (Guitarist and Stinson’s brother Bob, who left the band in 1986 died in 1995 from heatlh issues, a result from years of drug and alcohol abuse. Drummer Steve Foley who was with the band from 1990 – 1991, died from an accidental drug overdose in 2008.)
The Replacements are also affectionately known by their fans as “The Mats.” The bands’ nickname apparently came from a detractor who joked that the band’s name should be called “The Placemats.” The group embraced the nickname and proceeded wreak rock and roll havoc and wow fans for several years prior to the band’s breakup. “The Mats” played their last show on July 4th 1991.
Westerberg went on to make some brilliant solo records and some strong singles, including the popular “Dyslexic Heart,” featured on the soundtrack 1992 movie, “Singles” filmed right here in Seattle. Stinson went on to form Bash & Pop and would eventually join a reconstituted Guns n’ Roses in 1998 and another Minneapolis breakout band Soul Asylum in 2005, as well as other side projects.
The Replacements reformed in 2012 and played their first show in 22 years at “Riot Fest”in August of 2013.
The band’s performance on the Bumbershoot Mainstage on Day 2 brought out several Minneapolis transplants and Mats fans, including KEXP Sr. Director of Programming, Kevin Cole who worked as a DJ at the world famous First Avenue in Minneapolis in the 80’s and 90’s.
The Replacements did not disappoint their fans who have waiting years to see the return of their heroes. From the first downbeat and opening chords the Minneapolis outfit reached out, grabbed the Bumbershoot crowd by the throat, hung on like pit-bull and delivered one of the most powerful, rambunctious sets we witnessed over the Bumbershoot weekend.
The band kicked things off with “Favorite Thing,” followed by a string of high-energy numbers, “Takin’ a Ride”, “I’m In Trouble” and “Don’t Ask Why.” With solid chops, their DIY approach still intact, The Replacements took their fans on a rock and roll journey through their robust musical timeline.
The years have been kind to both Westerberg and Stinson. Both looked incredibly healthy and fit and brought the attitude and fun that Replacements fans have come to expect and enjoy. Westerberg rocked a black and yellow Batman shirt, grey vest and black jeans while Stinson was looking his typical badass self with his Sid Vicious styled spiked hair and trademark striped jacket. The touring band was rounded out by Josh Freese (The Vandals and Devo) and Dave Minehan on guitar.
The boys were tight but not slick – just the right balance for a band like the Replacements. Nice and neat just would not be fitting. Not content to just mail in a greatest hits package for the Bumbershoot crowd, the group brought renewed energy and passion to some of their classics. Westerberg and Stinson were clearly enjoying themselves on an outdoor stage at twilight. The fact that they weren’t playing indoors at a beer soaked club was just fine.
After the set Westerberg and Stinson walked offstage with a look of satisfaction on their faces. Both then walked off into the sunset smiling and laughing – rock n’ roll survivors and friends, relishing the moment and sharing the joy of playing the music they created together throughout the years – delighting a crowd who have waited way too long to see them do their thing once again… in grand fashion!