By Jon Bream
Dave Pirner took his son to work on Thursday night at the Minnesota Zoo and that helped transform a less-than-stellar Soul Asylum concert into a memorable one.
Wearing heavy-duty headphones (like the ones worn by people who guide airplanes on tarmacs), Eli Pirner, 5, stood onstage in front of bassist Tommy Stinson’s amp during the opening “Somebody to Shove.” By the end of the night, Eli was at the mic, lowered to his level, to sing “Stand Up and Be Strong,” face to face with his kneeling dad. Bet your kid didn’t get to do something that cool when you took him or her to work.
Afterward, Danny Murphy told the sellout crowd: “Eli rocks! That was good man. Just like the singer, it took Eli a little while to get wound up and then he was into it.”
That would be a fairly accurate review of Dad’s 95-minute performance at the Zoo. With Eli sitting in the wings, Pirner perked up during the seventh song, “Without a Trace,” which he dedicated to the band’s late bassist Karl Mueller. “String of Pearls” earned big cheers from the crowd, which may have been the tamest crowd at the zoo this year. “Let’s All Kill Each Other” was perfectly punk tongue in cheek.
The big winner came later: the invigorating “Bittersweetheart,” during which Pirner did a little shimmey. He was way into “Sometime to Return” and the closing “Stranger,” during which he was demonstrative and emotional. It was maybe the only song he’d played all night without a guitar. By then, Eli had scampered off stage into Mom’s arms.
Here is a set list (though I missed a couple of songs when I went to the restroom where there was a long line):
1. Somebody To Shove 2. All Is Well 3. Easy Street 4. Misery 5. Lately 6. Black Gold 7. Without a Trace 8. String of Pearls 9. Let’s All Kill Each Other 10. Just Like Anyone 11. Cartoon (?) 12. ?? 13. Black Star 14. Never Really Been 15. Runaway Train 16. Watcha Need 17. Bittersweetheart 18. Sometime to Return 19. Stand Up and Be Strong ENCORE 20. Closer to the Stars 21. ?? 22. Stranger