Wrapping up a short 10 day run which took the band from South Carolina, to Georgia, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas, Umphrey’s McGee ended up in Dallas at the House of Blues. Every time I see these guys they seem to ratchet things up. Saturday night didn’t change that trend. The crowd is set on a three hour voyage where the band guides them through peaks and valleys with crescendos, changes in rhythm and an incredible light display. The band has become an excellent tour-guide in this respect, and always leaves the fans completely satisfied in the end.
The Dallas show started with an intro called Jekyll & Hyde, which is a study in differences, starting out with a melodic piano solo, abruptly changing into a pulsing rock riff. This moved quickly into 40’s Theme, which wound around through a jazz odyssey before coming back. Next was Anchor Drops, which slowed things down a little. This was followed by Get in the Van, and then a new song, played only twice before, called Loose Ends. This is a heavy drum and lyrical tune, and had a little Radiohead flavor to it. Following was a string of Nothing Too Fancy, dropping into the syncopated beat of Higgins, rolling into a cover of the Police’s Masoko Tanga, and then, back into Higgins. One of my favorite songs, the anthemic Morning Song, made an appearance, which transitioned into the third part of Pay the Snucka. This signaled the “in your face rock ‘n’ roll” upcoming second set.
Set II started off with an 18 minute rocked out Hurt Bird Bath. This was followed by The Bottom Half, which included a cool Jimmy Stewart improv. Next was Go To Hell, segueing into 2X2. The pace only slowed down for a little while, as it picked back up for Rocker Part 2. The final treat of the second set came in the form of Led Zeppelin’s The Song Remains the Same, a great set-ender to bring the crowd to their feet. The encore was The Linear and then the closing of Nothing Too Fancy.
All in all, it was a great show, and very characteristic of a tour closer. Surprisingly, there were no tunes from the most recent album, Death By Stereo. The annual event, UM Bowl is coming up in Chicago at the Park West on Friday, April 27, which features four “quarters” of music. The setlist and themes of this Superbowl of Rock & Roll are directed by the fans, and always proves to be an interesting evening. Umphrey’s festival season will be starting in mid-May with the Hangout Festival on the beach in Gulf Shore, AL, and then it’s on to Summer Camp, in Chillicothe, IL, where they co-host the Memorial Day weekend event with another jamband stalwart, moe. Catch ‘em if you can, you won’t be disappointed.