In what will surely go down as one of 1993’s best club shows in L.A., former Replacements leader Paul Westerberg brought his first solo road show to the steaming, over-filled, loud Whisky. And while everyone probably expected to be captivated by the man some call the voice of ’80s American rock ‘n’ roll, few anticipated such a loose, jocular hero.
But Westerberg, obviously relishing the solo spotlight, was in many ways the polar opposite of the confrontational tosspot he threatened to become as his former band self-destructed. Kept honest by a backing band that appeared under orders to play as intensely as possible, he moved swiftly and comfortably from punk rave-up to roots rocker to blues number, with missed cues and beats only serving to add character to the gig.
The show, the first of two sold-out nights, was a creative mix of Replacements songs (some favorites, some obscurities), nine tunes from Westerberg’s “14 Songs” album and even a couple of covers.
Of the new material, the Keith Richards-influenced “Knockin’ on Mine,””Dice Behind Your Shades,” a quickened, punk-fired “Down Love” and “Waiting for Somebody” (from the “Singles” soundtrack), were notables.
As for the Replacements catalog, Westerberg lifted tunes from all phases of that band’s long, strange existence. Crowd fave “Waitress in the Sky,””I Will Dare,” hit “I’ll Be You” and the twangy “Achin’ to Be” stood out, though none of the old tunes were greeted with anything less than boisterous cheer.
L.A.’s own School of Fish opened the show with a solid 40 minutes of music from its two Capitol releases. The band’s 1991 single “Three Strange Days,” new single “Top of the World,””Complicated” and the infectious “Half a Believer” proved this is a group with a promising future.