Umphrey’s McGee Night 1 Review
Courtesy of our friends at Live For Live Music.
It’s January again and that can only mean one thing, Umphrey’s McGee in New York City. This tradition has been taking place for a number of years now at the Best Buy (formerly Nokia) Theatre, and with the performance we saw this weekend, we can only hope for this to continue for a long time. This time around the shows were scheduled to take place on the 14th birthday of the Umphrey’s McGee, foreshadowing the epic musical talent that was going to take place January 20th and 21st, 2012.
On day one the Umphrey’s started off with an epic intro, beginning with a slow piano solo and breaking into a build up of hard rock getting everyone ready for the music to follow. The soothing introduction to ‘Booth Love’ came next, slowly transforming into the funk that makes this song what it is. After a psychedelic transition ‘Rocker Part II’ emerged. This is when the raw musical talent in front of us really began to be showcased. Jake Cinninger, like always, did not in any way cease to amaze with his tight and fast paced guitar work. ‘Conduit’ was up next, a personal favorite of mine. This song has a fun melodic groove and Brendan’s vocals are great on this one. The middle of Friday night’s ‘Conduit’ got super funky; for a while I thought they had transitioned into another song, however the setlist says this was not so. Ryan Stasik on bass was particularly great in this one. The crowd loved it and it was easily a major height of the first set, not to mention the best ‘Conduit’ I’ve seen.
Next up was ‘Tribute to the Spinal Shaft’, perfect to change the energy and get everyone elevated and dancing. Slowing it down to an extent ‘Passing’ was next, another great exhibition of lyrical styling by both Brendan and Jake as well as being a really inspiring and uplifting song. Starting off very funky with some crunchy guitar riffs thrown in, I knew we were in for a good end of this set with ‘Utopian Fir’. Umphrey’s played this one hard and it went in many directions, turning out to be another major highlight of this set. The jams were hard and full funk ensued as the crowd couldn’t help but dance and scream.
After a short break we were welcomed back with the smile enducing ’40’s Theme’, which took us on a ride of funk. This quickly raised the energy back to the roof as Jake ripped it up. Next, Umphrey’s brought us one of their first songs, ‘Der Bluten Kat’, or ‘DBK’. It was a huge one full of jams with great the great energy that keeps me coming back to Umphrey’s McGee. Next something I’ve never seen before happened; Jake took off his guitar and joined Andy Faraq as they and Kris Meyers took off on a 3-man drum solo. This faded into what Umphrey’s are particularly amazing at, and what many fans wait for every show, the covers. This time it was a tribute of Lionel Richie’s ‘All Night Long’, and what a great one it was. Brendan really did the lyrics justice and the band made it feel right; I couldn’t help but dance and sing along.
Umphrey’s then went back into ‘DBK’ with a jam that seemingly went on forever and made this section of the second set a major pinnacle of the night. ‘The Linear’ was up next, and ever without remembering the name I felt it taking me down a path. Quite groovy and mysterious, I like the pace and Brendan’s vocals quite a bit and the band did a great job with it on this night in NYC. Instantly into ‘Ringo’, Jake did a great job on the vocals in this funky song that takes on many varieties and speeds. This is always a fun song at an Umphrey’s show and, after filling it with jams, was a perfect song to end this epic set with.
‘Divisions’ was the encore Umphrey’s played on Friday night. Not only is this one of my favorite songs by them, but also it was the most epic version I have ever seen live without question. The crisp playing and strong extended jams made this ‘Divisions’ one to remember. The jazz like jam and playing by Kris Meyers towards the beginning of this song made this jam extremely special.
Umphrey’s were playing very strong this last Friday night, and left the crowd craving Saturday (if they didn’t bail for Brooklyn Bowl). Friday’s highlights for me included Conduit, Passing>Utopian Fir, DBK>All Night Long>DBK, and Divisions. Umphrey’s truly keep playing better and better and I look forward to seeing them grow for years to come. Hope everyone had a good run; hope to see you all in Philly and Baltimore next month.
(London Souls opener)
Set 1: Intro> Booth Love> Rocker Part II, Conduit, Tribute to the Spinal Shaft> Passing> Utopian Fir
Set 2: 40’s Theme, Der Bluten Kat> All Night Long> Der Bluten Kat, The Linear> Ringo