As a fan, it was gratifying—and, I’ll admit, a little surprising—to see how animated Westerberg was onstage. I’ve only seen him once before (in 2005 or so, when Michael Bland was his drummer), and my takeaway then was a genteel songwriter who was a bit creaky. But with Stinson at his side last night, Paul was energized and disarming. In a rough-and-tumble Minnesota mumble, he joked about their time away (“We were having a wardrobe debate. It remains unresolved.”) and about trying to figure out stage banter, while the howl leading into “Bastards Of Young” was a cathartic T. Rex roar. He even grew sentimental in spots: Before a bittersweet “Swingin’ Party,” he said it was a “special request from Slim back home,” a nod to Slim Dunlap, who had a serious stroke in 2012.
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