The last time the Replacements were here they were mature rather than excitable, sincere rather than searing, and the album that eventually followed--the recent Don't Tell a Soul--has many of the same elusive strengths and obvious weaknesses. Its failure to greatly widen their audience, however, leaves the Replacements once again at a crossroads--which is what makes this show interesting. The band still has something to prove, especially since their decision to replace Bob Stinson with Slim Dunlap appears to have been a not-quite-inconsequential boner, somewhat akin to the Rolling Stones replacing Mick Taylor with Ron Wood. Of course, they're still the Replacements, so--mature artists or, not--they may not care that much about what they have to prove. But if lethargy, or professionalism, overtakes this band, it will increase the pressure on Paul Westerberg to go solo, and another great U.S. postpunk group will be on the verge of breaking up without ever having fulfilled its promise. Saturday, Aragon Ballroom, 1106 W. Lawrence, 8 PM, 559-1212 or 561-9500.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Bonnie Schiffman.