The revered cult status of Bob Mould is, in many respects, an enigma. Mould is best known for his work in Hüsker Dü, which had modest commercial success. His biggest-selling LP, Copper Blue, was with his subsequent band, Sugar.
Nonetheless, Hüsker Dü is cited as the key influence of bands such as Foo Fighters and Pixies. Furthermore, "Dog on Fire" from Bob's solo material is the theme song for The Daily Show. Bob Mould has also had concerts held in his honour by an all-star line of artists, including David Grohl, celebrating songs from Mould's career that now exceeds four decades.
The sold-out 600-capacity venue was first blown away by support act and solo artist Joseph D'Agnostino. Bob didn't need any gimmicks, slogans, or even a band when he took to the stage. It was Mould in a black t-shirt, jeans and a regular electric guitar, not even a Flying V from his Hüsker Dü days.
Mould began with a song that wasn't his best known but sadly all too relevant to the zeitgeist called "The War", taken from his eleventh, 2014 solo album Beauty & Ruin. While Mould only used an electric guitar and heavy reverb without even a pedal drum, this song's emotions, sharpness, and clarity were instantly felt, which elated the audience. A mixture of four Hüsker Dü and Sugar songs, including "I Apologise" and "No Reservations", followed.
Most of the subsequent songs, along with new material, were taken from Mould's solo career. As most artists these days try to announce new material enthusiastically, there was a brief silence and inward trepidation; nonetheless, once Bob began playing new songs, including "When Your Heart is Broken", the connection that had grown between Mould and the audience continued to solidify. The latter part of the set was devoted to Hüsker Dü and Sugar classics. Sugar's "If I Can't Change Your Mind" and the playout "Makes No Sense at All", along with Mould's cover of Sonny Curtis' "Love is All Around", especially stood out.
Whilst The Garage is an intimate venue, many artists have played complete band sets. On the face of it, Mould can be accused of prioritising keeping touring costs down over the impact of a live set. Even if budgeting topped Mould's agenda, he more than demonstrated himself as a skilled artist and performer. Most importantly, Mould showed that he was still passionate about the music and could convey the emotions and feelings attached to his songs. While Bob is as unlikely as ever to top the Billboard charts, he will continue to influence great musicians past and present.