With a smashed guitar lying upon the stage, Paul Westerberg declared the Replacements over. Internet buzz surrounded their reformation three years ago and recently internet buzz was awash with the news they had called it quits … again. For those paying attention in the last few weeks, Paul Westerberg had been leading Replacements’ fans on a minor mystery, writing clues in the form of letters on t-shirts. On June 5th, at the Primavera Porto in Barcelona, the cryptic note concluded and read “I always loved you. Now I must whore my past.” With the sound check skipped by all but Westerberg and message decrypted, the Replacements front man stepped up to the microphone and made it official telling the crowd the band were “lazy bastards to the end.”
Of course this should come as a shock to absolutely no one. On one hand, The Replacements are arguably amongst the greatest American bands to have graced the planet, but on the other they were definitely the most contrarian. Like his hero, Big Star’s Alex Chilton, Paul Westerberg was full of career self-sabotage, taking chances that most bands could never have gotten away with. In their heyday, The Replacements would show up to venues so wasted they could barely perform one night and the next they would put on a concert that had people declaring they were the greatest live show on earth.
Their records were a gorgeous mess of boozy swagger that seemed to speak to fans directly. Just look at Pleased To Meet Me which had jazz and soul undertones (“Nightclub Jitters” & “Skyway”) mixed with punk pathos (“I Don’t Know” & “Red Red Wine”) and power-pop gems (“Alex Chilton” & “Can’t Hardly Wait”), creating an album that demands devotion.
In the end, I honestly have little opinion on the so-called “break-up” because I have their records to remind me of just how damn good they are…
I’ve learned over the years that “never” can sometimes mean “until we meet again.”