Friday night was a night that many people thought would never come: The Replacements reunited for a show in the New York area.
The Replacements were a very influential alternative rock band. They formed in Minneapolis in the late 1970s and disbanded in the early 1990s. They were incredibly prolific in the mid-1980s with a steady stream of great releases such as Don’t Tell a Soul (1988), Pleased to Meet Me (1987), Tim (1985), and Let it Be (1984). In their 10+ year run, they gained a reputation as a volatile band, especially during the live shows. These shenanigans were well -documented and most notably peaked when they were banned from SNL in 1986.
With that being said, I did not know what to expect when this reunion tour was announced. But the band was better than I expected. The audience, mostly in their 30s and 40s, were attentive and grateful as they sang along through each song. And the whole experience was very enjoyable.
The lights lowered on Forest Hills Tennis Stadium and the “Jets” theme song from West Side Story was played on the sound system. After a few minutes of finger snapping from the audience (or at least from me), The Replacements took the stage. Paul Westerberg, Tommy Stinson, Dave Minehan and Josh Freese were dressed to the nines. Everyone cheered as the hootenanny began.
Overall, the set list was a carefully manicured guide to The Replacements’ sound and covers of The Jackson Five’s “I Want You Back” and Chuck Berry’s “Maybellene.” The band impressed with their tight performance and energy.
The show opened with four early songs, “Favorite Thing” from Let it Be and “Takin’ a Ride,” “I’m in Trouble,” and “Don’t Ask Why” from Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash (1981).
The band moved on to later material with songs like “I’ll Be You,” “Color Me Impressed,” and “Achin’ To Be.” “Androgynous” was a quieter moment for the band. Westerberg paused a few times in-between songs to talk but his words were somewhat garbled. He swiftly transitioned back to singing and sounded perfectly clear.
The favorites were kept for last. The show ended with four of the The Replacements’ most successful songs. “Can’t Hardly Wait” was followed by “Bastards of Young,” a song where the entire audience screamed out the chorus: “We are the sons of no one/ bastards of young.” That statement was pretty much a shared consensus of the group.
“Left of the Dial” was followed by “Alex Chilton,” a song written about the Big Star frontman. The song received a huge response from the audience who repeated that great chorus of musical discovery: “I’m in love. What’s that song? I’m in love with that song.”
After “Alex Chilton,” The band paused for a moment and then erupted into the perfect final song: “Unsatisfied.”
The great thing about The Replacements is their ability to craft songs that capture a time, place, and experience. The themes are very relatable and it seems that even 20 years later, these songs still hold up to the core fans and the new fans. The audience danced to these songs defined a generation of teenagers and 20somethings in the 1980s and 1990s (and presumably, well-informed teenagers and 20somethings in the 2000s).
At the end of the night, it seems like all the fans who waited 20+ years for this reunion were quite satisfied.
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The Replacements played Forest Hills Tennis Stadium on Friday, September 19, 2014. The openers were Deer Tick and The Hold Steady.
BrooklynVegan has some videos from the show, including “Can’t Hardly Wait”/”Bastards of Young” and “Kiss Me On the Bus” where you can clearly hear the crowd singing along.
Setlist via Setlist.fm
Thinking of getting started with The Replacements? Below is a playlist with all the songs from the show, except the covers.