The Replacements/The Hold Steady
Forest Hills Stadium, Queens
September 19, 2014
Review by David Chiu
The spirit of Minnesota was in the house when the Replacements and the Hold Steady (whose member Craig Finn is from the state) rocked Queens’ Forest Hills Stadium Friday night. Those aforementioned groups may have represented different musical generations, but they didn’t differ much when it came to delivering raucous and passionate rock and roll.
By far, the most anticipated reunion this year had to be the Replacements fronted by original members Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson, with Josh Freese on drums and Dave Minehan on guitar. After performing some initial festival shows, the Replacements finally returned to New York City and played to an obviously large and enthusiastic audience. Following intro music of “Jet Song” from West Side Story, the band hit the state and opened the superb set with “Takin’ a Ride” from the first album Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash! And after that, they didn’t disappoint at all by delivering their best and then some, including “I’ll Be You,” “I Will Dare,” “Bastards of Young,” “Can’t Hardly Wait,” “Kiss Me on the Bus,” “Achin’ to Be,” “Merry Go Round,” “Nowhere Is My Home,” and even a cover of the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back.” Amid the rockers, there were some special toned-down moments such as an intimate performance of “All Shook Down.” Amid the uniqueness of the event, there was also some banter and humor, especially from Stinson, representative that type of down-to-earth, working-class and earnest attitude that made the Replacements so endearing in the hearts and minds of their fans. It’s always a dicey proposition when a popular band reunites because it could never recreate the old times, thus falling flat—but not so in the case of the Replacements’ first-rate performance.
Fittingly enough, opening for the Replacements was Brooklyn’s the Hold Steady. Having been an admirer of the group, I finally had the opportunity to see them on stage and I was really impressed. Fronted by Craig Finn’s unique talk-singing style, the Hold Steady, which recently released their latest album Teeth Dreams, performed a strong set as they did such songs as “Southtown Girls” and “Stay Positive.” At one point, Finn spoke to the audience about performing in Queens that spawned the Ramones while opening for the Replacements, saying that it felt massively full circle. It surely did.