LIVE: Umphrey’s McGee @ the Palace Theatre, 1/28/17
Review and photographs by Rudy Lu
Although the normally six-piece band was down to just five musicians, it didn’t stop them from each adding richness and complexity to the music with their own unique touches. The absence of Ciminger may have been noticed by those who follow the band regularly, but certainly not to a first-time UM concert-goer and novice fan like myself. After all, they have been together as a band for nearly 20 years.
The band opened with “Divisions,” a song with lyrics that are certainly appropriate for our times.
After the opening four-song volley, the band welcomed veteran jazz saxophonist Joshua Redman to the stage. He has been touring on and off with the band since 2013.
NOTE: Back in ’98, Redman recorded an album of rock standards, Timeless Tales for Changing Times, way before it became fashionable. (He had a week-long artist residency at Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, where he brainstormed the concept.)
The Dave Matthews-influenced “Gone for Good” had Redman playing the melody and solo adeptly. A reggae beat dominated the beginning of “Higgins,” before the song morphed to hard rock punctuated by solos and fills by all members of the band, followed by reggae and more hard rock.
Kris Myers’ drumming dominated and controlled the band’s flight into jam-rock heaven. Bassist Ryan Stasik locked in tightly with Myers and guitarist-vocalist Brendan Bayliss’ power-chording. Joel Cummins provided deft keyboard flourishes, while percussionist Andy Farag played unique little fills to add color to the music.
“Ocean Billy” served as a vehicle to display the talents of Bayliss, Stazik and Myers. Redman again having his say, frequently dueled with echoplexes and Bayliss’ guitar, while Myers continued to shift the mood and drive of the music from behind the drum kit.
The second set opened with a wash of electronic noise that led into “1348,” sporting unmistakable influences of heavy metal metal and Frank Zappa.
The entire second half rocked considerably harder than the first set. Almost as if the crowd needed some relief from the heavy music, the band lightened the mood with a cover of Simple Minds’ ’80s electronica pop hit of teenage angst, “Don’t You Forget About Me.” With Bayliss’ guitar prominently featured, the “Breakfast Club” soundtrack hit closed out the set.
Billed as “electro funk therapy,” Spafford opened the show, and the band certainly fit the bill.
GO HERE to see Rudy Lu’s photographs of opening act Spafford…
UMPHREY’S McGEE SET LIST
Prowler > 2nd Self
The Weight Around
Gone For Good*
1348* > Intentions Clear* > 1348*
In the Kitchen
Don’t You (Forget About Me) (Simple Minds)
Resolution > In the Kitchen
*with Joshua Redman
LIVE FLASHBACK: Umphrey’s McGee @ Palace Theatre, 2/6/16
LIVE: Umphrey’s McGee @ the Palace Theatre, 2/6/16
LIVE: Umphrey’s McGee @ Northern Lights, 11/17/09
DVD: SoundStage Presents: Umphrey’s McGee Live