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Paul Westerberg

Paul Westerberg (El Rey Theatre, Los Angeles; 800 capacity; $ 16.50) Presented by Goldenvoice. Band: Westerberg, Tommy Keene, Josh Freese. Reviewed Sept. 14, 1996. Dressed in a suit, plaid tie and wearing glasses, Paul Westerberg dons the colors of a rock ' 'n' roll elder statesman as well as he wore the uniform of the soothsaying drunk of the '80s indie rock set. In a 90 -minute show that mixed and matched songs from his two Reprise solo albums, "14 Songs" and the current "Eventually," as well as his days heading the Replacements, Westerberg demonstrated with conviction the progression of a punchy sound he pioneered in Minneapolis years ago that has been co-opted and generated gold discs for Soul Asylum and the Goo Goo Dolls. Westerberg, who consistently mixes major key concerns with minor key chords, broke his show Saturday into three sonically separate sets: round one was electric and mildly upbeat; round two emphasized a full-bodied acoustic sound; and round three was pure crunch big and fat chord-based tunes such as "Merry Go-Round" that carry the Westerberg signature loud and proud. Why he nor his former band never caught on at radio is anybody's guess Westerberg is so masterful at hook-laden songs that an hour and a half of this material is numbing from the core for nothing but its pure hit potential. Never mind that he plays midtempo songs at a ratio of 10:1 to ballads or wild rockers; Westerberg knows his place and he fills it well. As for the dexterity and depth of his sound and its ability to support a wide lyrical range, Westerberg flashed probably quite unexpectedly a coy segue of the new "These Are the Days" and the Replacements' classic "On the Bus" from 1985's "Tim." While "These Are the Days" possesses a toss-away melody, it examines a songwriter's relationship with his craft, the downtime spent in coffee shops and the introspection the public never sees; "On the Bus," however, is one of those career-defining moments in which Westerberg takes the simple notion of kissing a girl on a bus and supplies a sweep that approaches epic proportions, lyrically and musically. Together, the songs show Westerberg's willingness to get dressed in public, scrutinize the nitty-gritty, and expand his self-examination, a concept that started 15 years ago with "Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Garbage." And for anyone concerned that Westerberg has dropped the Mats' habit of wacky cover songs, sleep well: The guitarist raced through David Bowie's "John, I'm Only Dancing" with considerable verve. Westerberg closes his Southern California run Tuesday at the Troubadour. Phil Gallo

Paul Westerberg (El Rey Theatre, Los Angeles; 800 capacity; $ 16.50) Presented by Goldenvoice. Band: Westerberg, Tommy Keene, Josh Freese. Reviewed Sept. 14, 1996. Dressed in a suit, plaid tie and wearing glasses, Paul Westerberg dons the colors of a rock ‘ ‘n’ roll elder statesman as well as he wore the uniform of the soothsaying drunk of the ’80s indie rock set. In a 90 -minute show that mixed and matched songs from his two Reprise solo albums, “14 Songs” and the current “Eventually,” as well as his days heading the Replacements, Westerberg demonstrated with conviction the progression of a punchy sound he pioneered in Minneapolis years ago that has been co-opted and generated gold discs for Soul Asylum and the Goo Goo Dolls. Westerberg, who consistently mixes major key concerns with minor key chords, broke his show Saturday into three sonically separate sets: round one was electric and mildly upbeat; round two emphasized a full-bodied acoustic sound; and round three was pure crunch big and fat chord-based tunes such as “Merry Go-Round” that carry the Westerberg signature loud and proud. Why he nor his former band never caught on at radio is anybody’s guess Westerberg is so masterful at hook-laden songs that an hour and a half of this material is numbing from the core for nothing but its pure hit potential. Never mind that he plays midtempo songs at a ratio of 10:1 to ballads or wild rockers; Westerberg knows his place and he fills it well. As for the dexterity and depth of his sound and its ability to support a wide lyrical range, Westerberg flashed probably quite unexpectedly a coy segue of the new “These Are the Days” and the Replacements’ classic “On the Bus” from 1985’s “Tim.” While “These Are the Days” possesses a toss-away melody, it examines a songwriter’s relationship with his craft, the downtime spent in coffee shops and the introspection the public never sees; “On the Bus,” however, is one of those career-defining moments in which Westerberg takes the simple notion of kissing a girl on a bus and supplies a sweep that approaches epic proportions, lyrically and musically. Together, the songs show Westerberg’s willingness to get dressed in public, scrutinize the nitty-gritty, and expand his self-examination, a concept that started 15 years ago with “Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Garbage.” And for anyone concerned that Westerberg has dropped the Mats’ habit of wacky cover songs, sleep well: The guitarist raced through David Bowie’s “John, I’m Only Dancing” with considerable verve. Westerberg closes his Southern California run Tuesday at the Troubadour. Phil Gallo

Paul Westerberg

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