Bob Mould - London, Mean Fiddler

Tuesday 6th September 2005


It had been a long wait to see Bob with a band again - almost 7 years to be precise. Yet again a trip to London was required but it proved to be worth it - big style.

For the first time in the UK, Bob pillaged his entire back catalogue with a band and the results were stunning. But to mean something more than a bunch of great, old songs getting played live (see Pixies here and here) this had to be about Bob Mould in 2005.  In that context the Body of Song material has to be able to hold its own in amongst the run of Sugar and Husker Du classics.  The good news is that it does exactly that. 'See A Little Light' was played after 4 songs from each of Copper Blue and BOS and there had been no dip in quality whatsoever. Of course picking, by and large, the strongest material from the new LP certainly helped but it’s a reminder that Bob’s songwriting has not deserted him.

In general it was an upbeat and uptempo set - the only hiatus came midway through with ‘High Fidelity’ being followed by an impressive ‘Hardly Getting Over It.” The set drew heavily (and equally) on Body of Song and Copper Blue. The first half of the main set featured material from those 2 albums whilst the Husker Du material was introduced in the second half.

In terms of songs chosen, the set was probably fairly predictable - most of the songs played have featured in Bob’s extensive American solo jaunts. Even the Copper Blue heavy nature of the set was foreshadowed by Bob’s pre-tour comments about the LP. You get the feeling that this is the show that people were expecting for the LDAP 'last band' tour (at least in terms of back catalogue). So, yes, it was an obvious set but what would most people have left out to make way for other material? (OK, I concede I would have left a couple of CB tracks out to have heard some ‘Beaster’ too.)

The band were all excellent - the different backing vocals added something to the mix. Given that this was only their second ever gig together it all went remarkably well. Morel’s keyboards weren’t particularly obvious on a lot of the songs but when needed were quite effective. Canty’s drumming though was a highlight.

As ever with Bob’s band shows there was little in the way of chit-chat, just a blast through the set at an unrelenting pace. Which is just the way it should be.

The atmosphere was excellent too with the crowd really up for the show. That was perhaps best illustrated by the incessant chant of ‘Bob, Bob, Bob, Bob’ with which the second encore was demanded.

Downsides? Well, not many. In fact, really only one (apart from the 6’4” guy in front of me who, despite standing well back from the stage and having a backpack on, insisted on pogoing during the HD material). The sound wasn’t great at times with some of Bob’s vocals and guitars lost a little in a blizzard of white noise.

More than anything though this was about Bob clearly enjoying ripping it up on stage with a band again. Initially his grins seemed a little stolen but the longer the set went on, the more he seemed to be enjoying himself. That was no more plainly illustrated than by his conducting the bass intro to ‘Celebrated Summer’ then crowd surfing briefly during the solo on ‘Man on the Moon.’

Let’s hope he has a taste for this band malarkey and that it’s not another 7 years before he returns to the UK.

Setlist - Song by song

The Act We Act

With all the Copper Blue hints and having featured in some solo sets TAWA seemed a decent bet for the opener and so it proved. Suffered a little under the sound but simply awesome to hear it live again.

A Good Idea

Every time I've seen Bob with a band, he's opened with a run of songs from an LP, so there was always a chance this was going to be next. But it was still astonishing to hear.


And he kept on going! A very raw version.


BOS opener was very well received and well played.


BOS single kept things ticking along nicely.

I am Vision, I am Sound

I'm not that struck by the LP version but underneath all the treated production lies a beast of a song. An unexpected highlight.

Underneath Days

One of my favourites on the LP and lived up to that billing here. Could be an effective set opener.

Hoover Dam

Another CB classic and another storming version.

See A Little Light

Continued a run of unrelenting quality and energy as the source material started to open up a bit.

High Fidelity

Benefitted from the rawer. live approach although clearly Bob is sticking to his guns since Morel's keyboards accurately reproduced the much maligned bells from the record!

Hardly Getting Over It

Powerful, moving and an absolute stand-out on the night.

Could You Be The One?

One of the few relative disappointments but a more than serviceable version

I Apologize

Another highlight - frantic and melodic. The crowd were going mental by this time.

Chartered Trips

Further back in time still - another crowd pleaser.

The Receipt

Sounded a bit rushed and lost a lot of its impact.

Best Thing

Another of my BOS favourites and it managed to hold its own in exalted company.

Celebrated Summer

I must admit to wondering at the mini COLAS show supporting Flaming Lips 3 years ago if this era had had its day. A resounding 'no' to that foolish thought. Absolutely brilliant way to close the main set.

Encore 1


Beating Heart The Prize

Another BOS highlight and this was one where Bob really cut loose.


A bit of a surprise at this stage in proceedings but Morel’s keyboards really came into their own another great version.

If I Can’t Change Your Mind

A track which has perhaps dulled a little over they ears due to over familiarity but this storming punky version was tremendous although Bob singing the closing solo seemed a bit odd!

Encore 2


Even more Copper Blue and predictably pretty popular.

Makes No Sense At All

Another immense crowd pleaser

Man on the Moon

Bob seems to have adopted this one as his last number at least in a band context and it works terrifically well. Featured the crowd surfing solo and more vocals replacing instrumentation.



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