A couple of months back, Friend of Unfair Park Bob wrote: "Waiting patiently for you to find and post a Replacements performance in Dallas. I think there was only one, yes?" But as we ascertained, no, there were several, from a Theatre Gallery gig to that unfortunate and wildly disinterested Starplex show (opening for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, no less) to the oddball '91 adios at the Metroplex Arena, or whatever that roller-rink off Upper Greenville was called. By the time of the latter show, there were but two remaining originals -- Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson -- and you could just tell: They were done.
The Starplex show in '89 was a whole different shade of sad: The band came out early, in the blistering July sunshine; they hated every sticky second -- Westerberg in particular. It was the summer of my senior year at UT, and I went with then-Observer music editor Gilbert Garcia, a good friend with whom I'd worked at The Daily Texan. We went solely to see the 'Mats. We sat in the second row; Westerberg, in the first. He'd climbed off the stage to get the sun out of his eyes. Bored, bummed, he chatted up the audience. He'd had a few pops; he looked like he could've used a few more.
I'd seen the band in April of that year at the Austin Opera House. The memory of that show's a bit ... hazy; so too that Liberty Lunch gig in '87. I remember only that both were the opposite of that Starplex debacle and the sad adios two years after. But this helps jogs the memory and clear the cache: The Replacements at the Bronco Bowl on April 30, 1989. I found this earlier in the week and haven't stopped listening to it since. It's a crystal-clear-oh-sweet-fancy-Jesus two-parter, here and here, that only recently showed up on Grooveshark, which means you can't download it. Still. It's not like there aren't plenty of 'Mats boots out there. But this guy's right: "the best live version of 'Left Of The Dial' ever." Maybe so. Hard to argue. Could say the same for "Answering Machine" and "I Will Dare" and "Color Me Impressed" and "Bastards of Young." Good God, especially "Bastards of Young."
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I had an ex who never did get my to-this-day love affair with the Replacements, whose original Twin/Tone poster still hangs framed in my office. Wish I could play her this version of "Unsatisfied." Then, maybe, she'd understand.