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New Musical Express, 01 Mar 1986

NME enlisted the services of New Yorker Richard Grabel to cover this show at Irving Plaza.

[Transcribed by Zvia Admon.]


Hüsker Dü and Soul Asylum
New York Irving Plaza

by Richard Grabel

Soul Asylum are lean, scrappy, hungry. they play with a determination to make their mark quickly. They play to win. Inevitably, they are part of the Minneapolis hard-edged noisy rock band sound. they don't play with quite the crazed abandon of the Replacements, nor with the exquisitely-tuned precision drive of Hüsker Dü, but they have their own niche, and they make something great of it. But where country is lifeblood for the Meat Pups (sic), Soul Asylum are city boys, more enamoured of Wayne Kramer than of Elvis Presley. What they trade in most, and best, is a hard electric sound that cracks like a whip. Soul Asylum may someday be awsome, and Dave Pirner may someday have a pair of jeans without holes to wear on stage.

Hüsker Dü are so good now that the most outlandish superlatives fail to do them justice. They are simply amazing. Speculation runs high about what their first album for Warner Brothers will sound like. From the evidence of a few new songs played tonight it will have some hits on it.

There is a generosity of spirit, a feeling of basic goodness, that lies at the heart of Hüsker Dü. I think this will translate beyond the already-committed. I think they will be huge, and I think they will be so on their own terms.

Having two such different and complimentary writers is what gives this band its depth. Grant Hart has the simpler, catchier tunes, and lyrics bursting with romantic longing, tenderness and a painfully felt commitment to love and hope. Bob Mould's songs are explosions of resolute urgency, charged with doubt, questions and personal power. Together these two support each other's strengths perfectly. There are not transitions in the set, only a seamless rise from plateau to plateau.

After the last encore, late into the night, with most of the crowd already gone, they did something I'm told the've never done in public before. Don't expect them, I'm sorry to say, to do it again. They came out - Bob Mould with an acoustic guitar, Grant hart with a tambourine - and did a short "acoustic set". They did beautiful, radically different versions of songs we had just heard. These acoustic tracks dissected the songs, revealing the meltingly tender, gentle centre that lies inside even their loudest, most aggressive stuff, and is one of the secrets of their greatness. Also, this folky revelation let us hear these two voices, not straining to be heard, meshing in untutored, gorgeous harmony.

It was a magic moment. Hüsker Dü, in all of their matter of fact intensity, are incredible. They are, right now, the kings of rock.

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