Mike Watt & The Missingmen / May 7, 2009 / Hoboken, NJ (Maxwell’s)

In the live music archive featured on the public domain website Archive.org, there is an amazing audience recording of the Minutemen playing Maxwell's in Hoboken, NJ that dates back to October of 1985, less than two months before the seminal punk band's frontman, D. Boon, was killed in a tragic van crash in the Arizona desert.

Almost a quarter century later, Boon's lifelong friend and bassist Mike Watt made a triumphant return to Maxwell's on Thursday night (May 7), flexing the same punk energy he displayed during his final show at the venue with his outstanding new trio The Missingmen, featuring guitarist Tom Watson and drummer Raul Morales.

The Missingmen offered up a tight, tasty set loaded with some amazing covers and classic Minutemen songs that had graying audience members rocking out like they were a bunch of snot-nosed skate kids again. Among the highlights were lively and intense revisions of Wire’s “Three Girl Rhumba,” Roky Erickson’s “Sweet Honey Pie,” Television’s “Little Johnny Jewel” and a particularly emotional rip through The Stooges’ “Funhouse." The latter was presumably in honor of Watt’s fallen comrade, Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton, who had suggested Watt to take over for the late Dave Alexander on bass during The Stooges’ celebrated reunion tour of the mid-‘00s.

Under the duress of Watt and The Missingmen, the old Minutemen material has never sounded more crucial--the trio ripped through such favorites as “One Reporter’s Opinion”, “Toadies” and “Anxious MoFo” with more conviction and authenticity than any other group of musicians Watt has toured with since his post-Minutemen outfit, fIREHOSE.

Watt’s stand in Hoboken comes off the heels of a three-day break from his ‘Prac’n The 3rd Opera’ Tour, his first major headlining trek in his old Econoline in five years. During the days off, the artist bunkered down in a Brooklyn studio with producer Tony Maimone to record “Hyphenated-Man,” which is Watt’s third punk rock opera and, from the sound of the new material the group played at Maxwell’s, his finest work since his days with fIREHOSE.

No confirmation yet on when “Hyphenated-Man” will be coming out or on what label it will be released, but Watt fans can anticipate “Funland”, the new album from his improvisational rock outfit Unknown Instructors with former Minutemen/fIREHOSE drummer George Hurley and Saccharine Trust guitarist Joe Baiza, on May 12 via Smog Veil Records.