Bob Mould, Paradise Rock Club, Boston, US

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The Independent Culture

In the Eighties, Bob Mould fronted Hüsker Dü, that most melodic of hardcore power trios. Then he formed Sugar, and eventually distilled himself into solo existence. In the UK, his career appears to be dormant, but Mould is preparing Body of Song, to be released by Cooking Vinyl later this year.

In the Eighties, Bob Mould fronted Hüsker Dü, that most melodic of hardcore power trios. Then he formed Sugar, and eventually distilled himself into solo existence. In the UK, his career appears to be dormant, but Mould is preparing Body of Song, to be released by Cooking Vinyl later this year.

Mould's last offering, Modulate, explored electronica, but the new album promises a return to guitar performances. If his fans are curious about his whereabouts, they can discover every minute detail on Boblog, an online diary that details his eventful Washington, DC, existence. It's subtitled "A Quiet, Uninteresting Life".

Mould has also developed a DJ-ing persona, appearing with Rich Morel for their Blowoff nights, fusing house and punk rock. He's also flaunting his gayness more openly, making a conscious decision to politicise himself across the socio-sexual board, a stance forced by the current state of the US.

Speaking of which, turning up for a gig is not so simple in Boston. The Paradise Rock Club (25 years in the business) demands ID on the door, so any non-US visitors need to carry their passports. Not very rock'n'roll, but this is the law, even though most of the crowd are clearly over 31, let alone 21.

Mould is performing solo, with a 12-string semi-acoustic guitar. He's lost a lot of weight since the last time I saw him, and works out now, in the wake of recent health problems. While he still uses the tools of a singer-songwriter, the scale of his work is larger. Mould's voice is the dominant sound, easily overpowering his multi-layered strum-scapes. He has developed an exaggerated, folksy holler that glides words together and turns his voice into an instrument that resonates on several levels.

Mould doesn't patter much. His website fills that role. He does reveal that he has flown in from DC for $72. He normally drives. He's also sweating copiously, but then someone sets the air-conditioning to blast level and he complains about the freeze. A fan in the front row lends him a cardigan. This is a first in gig history. The temperature is affecting Mould's finely tuned vocal cords.

Then, Bob straps on his electric guitar, and everyone immediately remembers what made Hüsker Dü so powerful. The strings become the dominant entity; he uses the electric in orchestral fashion, building up a rumbling mass, decorated with trebly surges. Mould's voice is still there, but it's now part of a greater howl.

Mould's chief disadvantage is that, cumulatively, his songs all sound the same. In fact, it's all about the tonal overload, the energy of the delivery and the power behind the chords. Much of the set is unfamiliar, previewing songs from the forthcoming album.

Mould is ever moving onwards, and has never been one to harp on former glories. When the album is released, it would be high time for a UK return. We've been missing him.

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