TV’s Most Surreal Musical Performances – The Replacements on ‘The International Rock Awards’
In 1989, the Replacements made an appearance on a TV special called the 'International Rock Awards.' Yeah, don't kick yourself if you don't remember, or never heard of, this thing; it didn't last on anyone's radar too long.
Promoting its recently released album 'Don't Tell a Soul,' the band was asked to perform along with such big names at the time as the Bangles, David Bowie's Tin Machine, Living Colour, John Waite and Tina Turner, among others.
"What the hell are we doing here?" asked an obviously puzzled but amused Paul Westerberg as the 'Mats kicked into 'Talent Show.' Even the voiceover announcer sounds less than thrilled to have to deal with these ragged rockers, introducing them by saying, "We apologize. Here they are, the Replacements."
The audience is your typically stuffed-shirt crowd, oblivious to what is going on up onstage. About a minute in, Westerberg sticks out his tongue, little-kid style, at the camera, which more or less sums up the attitude of the band about its appearance.
Still, the group delivered a typically energetic performance, trying to maintain the true spirit of rock 'n' roll despite the obvious sterility of the event. The mix is rough, but works to their advantage. Bassist Tommy Stinson appears, as he usually does, to be amused by what's going on around him.
At various times, the camera swoops over those in attendance -- they sit motionless, most likely pondering the amount of time until a genuine pop star they recognize will step onstage.
Even though 'Talent Show' is hardly 'Dope, Guns and F---ing in the Streets' material, the network, ABC, still had issues with the song. Apparently they felt the line "feeling good from the pills we took" was considered a bit too much for home viewers and censored it from broadcast.
Westerberg, seemingly aware of this, rolls his eyes as he sings the line, knowing that nobody at home is going to hear it. But he'd have the last laugh. At song's end, instead of singing "It's too late to turn back, here we go," as it was recorded, Westerberg snottily sang "It's too late to take pills here we go." And he did it over and over, likely pissing off the powers that be who thought they had everything safe and sanitized for the viewing audience.
As the band pounds down the final note of 'Talent Show,' the camera scans the somewhat bewildered audience and finds one genuine fan: actor Matt Dillon, who can be seen enthusiastically clapping and whistling his approval for the Replacements' blast of rock 'n' roll. Everybody else, we assume, recovered from this momentary annoyance once Duran Duran's John Taylor came on to save the day.