It’s official: After years of near-misses, teases, and tantalizing hints, the Replacements have just announced that they will, in fact, reunite to play at least three shows.
Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson have signed on to headline three different installments of the Riot Fest, which is scheduled to hit Toronto August 24-25, Chicago September 13-15, and Denver September 21-22. It will be the first time they have performed together since July 4, 1991.
All of this news comes on the heels of the bittersweet saga happening around latter-day ‘Mats guitarist Slim Dunlap, who suffered a stroke in February of 2012 and has been at the center of the Songs for Slim benefit series. When Stinson and Westerberg learned about the seriousness of Dunlap’s stroke, they decided to go into the studio to record a cover of one of his songs. Once they began playing together, however, something clicked.
“[Tommy] sent me the rough mixes of the tracks and I was just absolutely blown away,” former ‘Mats manager Peter Jesperson told me recently. “I tell you the truth, I got quite teary eyed. I felt like they’d really captured something that was kind of the essence of what made them so great back in the day. Just an irreverence, a looseness, how fun the tracks were, and the playing was so great by all four guys. And maybe the best thing of all was Westerberg was singing, I thought, better than he’d sung in 25 years. He just sang the living daylights out of those songs.”
The announcement of these three festival dates still leaves a lot of questions unanswered. Why the Riot Fest? Why Denver, Chicago, and Toronto? Who will back Westerberg and Stinson when they play live (which, as Pitchfork reports, is yet to be determined)? And can we expect a reunion show to happen here in their hometown?