Review and photographs by Kirsten Ferguson. See more of Kirsten’s photos from this show here.
Additional Mike Watt photograph by Jason Spiro. See more of Jason’s photos from this show here.
Last Conspirators photograph by Denise Jordan. See more of Denise’s photos from this show here.
Across town at the Palace Theatre, fans screamed and stormed the stage when Smiths’ singer Morrissey bared his chest during his debut Albany performance. Over at Valentine’s Music Hall on the same night — at a show that unfortunately competed for some of the same fans of ‘80s college rock — bassist Mike Watt stripped his shirt off onstage, too.
Granted, when Watt did it the show was over and fans had mostly cleared out, and the former Minuteman was really only swapping his sweat-soaked stage flannel for a drier shirt to wear in the van. He and his partners in plaid — guitarist Tom Watson and drummer Raul Morales, who made up the Missingmen — had just ripped through 30 rapid-fire songs in 45 minutes and then played a frenzied encore of classic Minutemen tunes.
The main set — after the Last Conspirators primed the packed crowd with some high-energy, old school punk tunes — was a by-the-song recreation of Watt’s latest and third rock opera, Hyphenated-Man, released as an album in 2010. Watt has called the piece — loosely influenced by the fevered works of Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch — one big song with 30 parts. So playing it all in consecutive, non-stop order was important.
It took three tries to get the show underway, with Watson breaking a string twice and the perfectionist Watt demanding a do-over from the beginning. “You know what it says on Charles Bukowski’s grave?” Watt said before starting anew for the third and final time. “It says ‘Don’t Try.’ Just do it. Don’t try.”
And then they were off, blasting through one short, idiosyncratic Hyphenated-Man tune after another, the trio jittering with energy as Watt locked into Morales’ crashing beats and Watson’s searing guitar. “Start your own band,” Watt said, raising his bass, when it was all over.
Michael Eck’s review at The Times Union
Excerpt from Brian McElhiney’s review at The Daily Gazette: “Each time the band restarted the piece, they upped the intensity — when Watt gave the order to start again for the final time, you could almost see the grimace of pain on Morales’ face. It paid off as the energy level in the band and the audience grew to a fever pitch. The band plowed non-stop for close to 50 minutes, through the 30 ‘songs’ — Watt explained early on that the album is really just one big song, in 30 parts, and that’s exactly how it came across. Throughout, the trio stuck close to each other on the stage, Watt and Watson circling Morales’ drum kit in an almost meditative circle, their eyes meeting during instrumental moments. By the time they had hit the final notes of the almost fIREHOSE-esque ‘Wheel-Bound-Man,’ the band looked beyond exhausted. And then they returned for a fierce encore that included Minutemen classics ‘The Glory of Man,’ with Watson singing D. Boon’s lead vocal, and ‘Anxious Mo-Fo’ with Watt on vocals — an unexpected treat and the cherry on top of one of the most powerful shows to hit Albany this year.”
Mike Watt and Tom Watson from their tour diary
MIKE WATT & THE MISSINGMEN SET LIST
The Glory of Man