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The Replacements make triumphant return at Forest Hills Stadium

The Replacements can add another milestone to their impressive, improbable legacy.

The reunited alt-rock pioneers' show at Forest Hills Stadium on Friday night was more than a concert. It was like an "It Gets Better" video come to life. It was like the triumphant ending to a John Hughes movie three decades in the making, the one where the lovable losers get everything they deserve.

Playing their first New York concert since they broke up in 1991, The Replacements' singer-guitarist Paul Westerberg and bassist Tommy Stinson -- along with replacement Replacements guitarist Dave Minehan and drummer Josh Freese -- fulfilled all the promise of their groundbreaking albums, especially "Tim," which celebrates its 30th anniversary next year.

After all the years of wildly uneven concerts, missed opportunities and self-destructive tendencies, the beloved 'Mats played like the rock stars they were always meant to be, backed by a devoted crowd that made the band's alternative-rock anthems sound like rallying cries.

"We are the sons of no one," they chanted in "Bastards of Young," which stomped even harder in its current incarnation. When they wistfully declared, "Children by the millions wait for Alex Chilton," they not only introduced an entire generation to the Big Star star, but also tapped into the feeling of "I'm in love with that song!"

Sure, the Replacements' argument wasn't always clear in their days of drinking and drugging, but it certainly has crystallized now. Westerberg, looking flamboyant as ever in his floral-patterned blazer and bright red capri pants, is no longer a reluctant frontman, sounding strong and holding attention during the rockers as well as the quiet numbers.

It's still not clear where this Replacements reunion will take them beyond the current tour. However, with shows like their Forest Hills triumph, one stop should definitely be induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

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