Oran Mor – 18/5/13

Ex-Sugar and Hüsker Dü frontman Bob Mould has enjoyed a resurgence in recent times, touring heavily on the back of his excellent 2011 album Silver Age and the re-issue of Sugar’s alt-rock classic Copper Blue. Tonight he’s supported by North Atlantic Oscillation, a three-piece who make squalling shoegaze-y noise over programmed keyboard sounds. Though they’re devoid of stage presence, the closer ‘Hollywood is Ended’ lurches into life with the lysergic verve of Hawkwind. Nonetheless they’re easily forgotten in comparison to the fiery fretwork of tonight’s headliner.

Packing an impressive array of amps in his arsenal, Bob Mould careens across the stage with an energy that’s astonishing in a man thirty years into his career. He’s helped by the fact that bassist Jason Narducy and drummer Jon Wurster are a cut above your usual hired hands; Bob’s worked with a number of power-trios but it’s hard to imagine any of them playing with more bone-crunching verve than this.

Sugar’s raison d’être was fusing punk fury with power-pop melody and here Bob Mould doesn’t disappoint, dispatching hits like ‘The Act We Act’ and ‘A Good Idea’ with real venom. After his guitar stutters and cuts out during ‘Hoover Dam’ he cranks it up still louder, attacking the likes of ‘Star Machine’. By now he’s sweating profusely; condensation clouding his glasses and the band behind him are panting, yet still they thunder on. The final quartet of tracks, in particular Hüsker Dü’s raging ‘I Apologize,’ demonstrate why he’s such a legend in the east coast hardcore scene, triggering passionate moshing down the front. The heat and noise is oppressive but the vibe is one of good natured chaos.

Leaving the stage with a grin and dual thumbs-up Bob Mould has lost none of his fire.

[Max Sefton]

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