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After what was regarded as a lackluster first weekend set, The Replacements returned to Coachella’s Outdoor Stage with a vengeance, recruiting Green Day singer Billie Joe Armstrong to fill in for ailing frontman Paul Westerberg, who was laid up on the couch — literally.
Complaining of having thrown out his back, Westerberg spent most of the weekend two set on his back, laying on a sofa while playing guitar and sitting up to tackle vocals. The night’s surprise, bringing out Armstrong, came early in the set and featured some of the band’s most beloved songs, including “Color Me Impressed,” “Can’t Hardly Wait” and “Alex Chilton.”
Fairly well-rehearsed, possibly as a result of The Replacements’ influence on the punk rock star, Armstrong played with the band for the whole set — some songs more ably than others. That prompted bassist Tommy Stinson to crack at one point, “You’ll get it, Billie. It’s in E like all the others.”
They then proceeded to knock out several more favorites from The Replacements canon, including “I’m in Trouble,” “Kiss Me on the Bus,” “Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out,” “I Don’t Know” and “IOU.” Westerberg called Armstrong’s addition an “expansion” of the band.
Compared to The Replacements’ April 11 performance, the band’s first in California since 1991, the weekend two appearance was much better attended and the band, despite Westerberg’s injury, seemed far more invested. The addition of Armstrong, who seemed excited to be essentially fronting a band that informed his own music, certainly helped. And even he cracked, “Dreams really do come true!”
The band looked better, too, dressed in matching tan suits, which Armstrong also wore (his hair, much longer than on the Grammys earlier this year, was scraggly and he sported a full beard). Westerberg broke form and went low-key with sneakers and a khaki jacket emblazoned with a giant P.
The woe-is-me act didn’t hold up with all Replacements loyalists, some of whom snickered that laying down to play (then standing for the last three) felt more like shtick. But according to festival insiders, Westerberg had been experiencing pain.
Regardless, the set marked a triumphant return for a band that should be relishing in its victory lap not mocking it.
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