Saturday, July 11, 2009

Umphrey's McGee: Show Review - Central Park Summerstage July 9, 2009

Thursday night was my third time seeing Umphrey's McGee within one week. Before any of these shows I can honestly say I didn't truly "get it". Sure, I dabbled into their music and even really enjoyed a handful of songs. Like many other casual listeners, I basically felt Umphrey's was too crunchy. They do play a lot of muted notes and they really do take their time to ease into a jam that isn't driven by their progressive and metal influences. Well, it wasn't until I rode the rails (front row,center) of the Central Park show that I truly understood Umphrey's McGee. First off, they are definitely the tightest and most technical live band out there today (in the jam scene at least). Umphrey's started the show off with "Professor Wormbog" a quirky, older tune that pleased a lot of the hardcore Umphreaks in the crowd. The band really got my attention with the next tune, "Cemetery Walk" off of 2009s Mantis. Channeling Pink Floyd in the introduction, "Cemetery Walk" evolves into a Steely Dan piano driver rocker. The piano riff is so memorable that I've been humming it since the show ended. The boys explored some prog-rock territory in the "Jimmy Stewart" section of crowd-favourite "Nemo" before dipping deep into their huge catalog and pulling out another oldschool song, "Mulche's Odyssey". Sooner than later a playful "Got Your Milk" segued into the techno-dance-remix-reprise of "Cemetery Walk II" which featured guitarist Brendan Bayliss joining Joel Cummins on keyboards. The boys jammed this one out hard and proved the Umphrey's can play dance music better than any of the current jam-tronica acts out there. Sorry Disco Biscuits. The final song of the night was a spirited take on the Beatles' Abbey Road classic "I Want You (She's So Heavy)", a dark, bluesy and not to mention lengthily song that stayed pretty true to the original with the exception of some colourful guitar licks by Cinninger.
The man simply cannot help but rip apart every guitar part he plays, be it solo, lick or riff. While I now consider this my first true Umphrey's McGee show, its safe to say it won't be my last. Thankfully for fans and newbies out there, Umphrey's tours just about 365 days of the year. Thanks for a wonderful night in the park guys.

Professor Wormbog, Cemetery Walk, Nemo, Walletsworth, Mulche's Odyssey, Higgins, Turn & Run, Got Your Milk (Right Here) > Cemetery Walk II, I Want You (She's So Heavy)

No comments: