The fact that the very first concert I attended happened to be The Replacements (Albany, NY, Palace Theater 2/24/91) has made me the envy of a lot of people I know. Thing is, I waited until I was 17 to have my first live experience, but this wasn’t by design so much as happenstance due to the small cut-off town I lived in at the time. I could have been the witness to some serious magic had I made a point of going to shows before that (Husker Du and the Smiths were also options in Albany during the mid/late ’80s). Regardless, the Mats blew the doors off the joint, and the visceral thrill of that performance left me thoroughly gobsmacked. Subsequent concerts (perhaps over a thousand at this point) have often kept me in rapt attention, but that chilly winter night, Westerberg, Stinson, Dunlap and the late Steve Foley on drums, fundamentally changed how I experienced music forever. To this day, nothing has ever topped the excitement of that concert – not even a Replacements reunion shows 22 years later…
…but at times, it came close. The Mats’ performance at Fort York in Toronto, ON on a late summer evening in 2013 was their first since a somewhat disastrous, albeit legendary gig in Chicago’s Grant Park on July 4, 1991. Given Toronto’s close proximity across the boarder, attending Riot Fest that year was a no-brainer. In fact, two more Replacements Riot Fest shows were slated in just a few weeks in Chicago and Denver. I present to you the contents of that TO show, in the guise of an above average audience tape I procured mere days after the performance. As many of you are aware there was a significant alteration to band’s lineup since the All Shook Down tour. An ailing Slip Dunlap, sidelined by a serious stroke in 2012 was *ahem* replaced by Dave Mineham, formally of primo Boston riff-brokers The Neighborhoods. Chris Mars’ ’90s fill-in, Steve Foley was also out of the picture, and charmed drummer Josh Freese (Vandals, Devo, Guns ‘n Roses, etc) capably filled his stead.
For the Toronto performance, the band didn’t pick up so much where they left off in ’91, rather 1981, barnstorming through no less than three songs from their hardcore-tinged debut, Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash. Several more Twin/Tone era songs were revisited in the setlist, and remarkably, Paul Westerberg and Co. touched on virtually every piece in the Replacements catalog without being the least bit pandering about it. A cover of Sham 69’s “Borstal Breakout” was a startling surprise, and a loungy spin through “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” for their encore was pure Mats-ian shtick Fittingly, there were a handful of flubs (just like the old days), and the group was limited to a slightly abbreviated set (it was part of a festival, after all) but their attack was precise and ferocious, and they really hadn’t diminished since my seismic encounter with them in 1991. Hope you don’t mind the audience singing along on a song or two. Your choice of lossless FLAC or MP3 below.
Articles Origin: The Replacements – Riot Fest, Toronto 8/25/13