Guy turns to me midway through the first set at last night's Umphrey's McGee show in Cleveland, and he says, "Even if you don't know shit, anyone is gonna have a good time at a show like this."
He was right.
Of course, I know some shit about some shit, and I know that Umphrey's McGee throws down heaters across the country like it ain't no thang, night in and night out. This band is tight — 18 years in on a stellar career arc
— and they twist up unique setlists that somehow fit whatever mood the evening calls for. Last night in downtown Cleveland? Warm funk grooves to counter the wind chill factor outside, naturally.
The first set was a well rounded affair, and the audience ate up every note. I was particularly tuned into bassist Ryan Stasik's work throughout the show, notably the handful of times when he simply dropped into some filter effect on his bass and let a note just riiiiide beneath the other guys' multifaceted leads.
In the middle of the set, old-school jaunt-rocker Resolution was followed up by the newer ballad Upward, which turned out to be a really great pairing. At that point, sax man and frequent sit-in guest Joshua Redman joined the band onstage for Educated Guess, Glory > Wife Soup.
With Redman working his magic on a number of tunes in both sets, the whole show took on a much swankier feel (see Professor Wormbog's laid-back atmospheric grooves, for instance).
The second set ripped through a number of really excellent Umphrey's staples — Mulches, Ringo, Nothing Too Fancy, etc. — leading to an all-in encore of The Beatles' I Want You (She's So Heavy), which happened to land in the encore slot at the 2010 Cleveland show as well. A nice throwback, and a wonderful evening for all who happened to stop by.
Dear Lord >
OG Cut the Cable >
Nothing Too Fancy
Encore: She's So Heavy
* featuring Joshua Redman on sax