Umphrey’s McGee Plays Without Jake, Tributes Butch Trucks With Solo Piano “Jessica” [Gallery]


first_imgUmphrey’s McGee w/ Spafford | College Street Music Hall | New Haven, CT | 1/26/17 On Thursday, January 26th, something odd happened. Umphrey’s McGee announced that their lead guitar player, Jake Cinninger, would miss several upcoming shows due to a “wicked flu” and doctor’s orders to stay at home. With saxophonist Joshua Redman set to join the band on their run through the Northeast, and high-profile opening slots for high-octane jam upstarts Spafford, this was surely not what the band or their fans were expecting for this run. However, Umphrey’s McGee, known for their go-with-the-flow attitude, once again made lemonade out of lemons and delivered an impressive two-set performance last night at the College Street Music Hall in New Haven, CT. The show was filled with old school songs and a few fun covers, including a touching tribute to the recently deceased Butch Trucks.First off, Spafford started the night with a slammin’ opening set that once again showcased their ability as masters of improvisation. They turned in awesome versions of “Leave The Light On” and “The Postman”, along with “Seven” and “Windmill”, stretching four songs across their forty-five-minute opening slot. The room was almost packed to capacity, as many made sure to show up early for their first Spafford experiences. They were not disappointed, as the band turned in another lights-out performance that shows why they are the fastest rising band in the scene.Umphrey’s kicked their first set off with a “Nipple Trix” intro, allowing the band to start the night with a high-energy moment. When it was announced that Cinninger would miss the show, many fans wondered if the band would focus on older songs from before his time in the band. When “Slacker” started up, fans got their answer. The band took the old and reliable favorite (which was debuted in 1999) and stretched it out with some improv. Even though they were a man down, the band was as tight as ever, moving in a few different directions before returning to the end of “Slacker”.Bayliss then gave a shout out to Cinninger, who he said was watching the show from home. The band then played a poignant version of “Wellwishers” that saw Bayliss take the lead in a heavy and progressive jam. Jefferson Waful‘s atmospheric lights were on full display during this early improvisation. The “Wellwishers” jam eventually wound its way into another old classic from 1999, “Sociable Jimmy.” The jazzy fan-favorite is always a welcome addition to any Umphrey’s set, and this awesome version featured multiple unique sections of improv. Joel Cummins took the lead for most of this song, adding a confident solo alongside added layers of synthesizer that filled in the musical holes left by Cinninger’s absence. Eventually, drummers Kris Meyers and Andy Farag brought the jam into a mini-drums feature. The band would finish “Sociable Jimmy” and transition into the beautiful instrumental song “Sweetness”, which then dropped into the alternative-rock vibes of “Mad Love”.After “Mad Love”, Bayliss stepped up to the microphone and introduced Joshua Redman. The modern jazz legend emerged and slotted right in, adding harmonies and often doubling melodies that gave the songs a more complete feeling. While the band played skillfully, it’s impossible for them to re-create the sound of their well-known double-guitar attack without Cinninger on stage. However, Redman’s presence was welcome, his playing shouldering the musical weight of Cinniger’s absence. Redman would remain onstage and in the improvisational mix for the set’s final two songs (“Speak Up” and an extra- funky “Booth Love”) complemented beautifully by Ryan Stasik‘s rock-solid bass playing.In previous performances with Umphrey’s McGee, Redman would perform 3-4 songs at the end of each set. However, on this evening, Redman was with the band when they walked on the stage for set two, and he would remain on stage for all but one song. To start things off, Umphrey’s performed a song that dates back to 1998, the multi-sectional masterpiece “Der Bluten Kat.” The band would split “DBK” up into two parts, inserting the anthemic “Final Word” in the middle of the song. After the song, Bayliss explained that “DBK” was the first Umphrey’s song that Redman learned way back in 2004, and he showed no signs of rust as he absolutely crushed throughout the song.A dancy run through “Day Nurse” saw the band teasing “Working Day and Night” by Michael Jackson, before they moved into one of the highlights of the evening, a raucous take on “Wife Soup” that saw Redman acting as a note-perfect replacement for Cinninger. “Dear Lord” is a gorgeous song from  1998, and it provided Redman one more opportunity to take the lead and show off his inimitable skills. Redman then walked off stage as the band started up their dub version of Pink Floyd‘s “Breathe”, which found Bayliss showing off his rhythmic tapping skills as the band brought set two to its conclusion.Given the unfortunate and sad death of longtime Allman Brothers drummer Butch Trucks, it made sense that Umphrey’s would pay tribute to him in some way on this evening, the first show since his death was announced one day prior. Cinninger is known for throwing “Jessica” teases into songs with frequency, but, due to his absence, Cummins stepped up to pay his respects. He threw down a wild solo-piano cover of “Jessica” that simply brought the house down. Watch a video of the cover below, courtesy of MKDevo.Bayliss then shouted out Cinninger one more time, admitting that the show without him felt like he was “cheating on his wife” before starting up a fitting performance of “Uncommon”. To finish things off, Umphrey’s transitioned into a super-rare cover of Men At Work‘s “Down Under”, played for the first time in 270 shows and an incredibly fun way to end a somewhat bizarre evening in the world of Umphrey’s McGee.Umphrey’s McGee, Joshua Redman, and Spafford will continue their Jake Cinninger-less tour through the Northeast tonight with a performance at the State Theatre in Portland, Maine, during which Umphrey’s will perform their third-ever full set of improvisation.See below for a full setlist from the show at College Street Music Hall, as well as a gallery of photos, courtesy of photographer Andrew O’Brien.Setlist: Umphrey’s McGee | College Street Music Hall | New Haven, CT | 1/26/2017Set 1: Nipple Trix > Slacker, Wellwishers > Sociable Jimmy > Sweetness > Mad Love, Speak Up[1] > Booth Love[1]Set 2: Der Bluten Kat[1] > Final Word[1] > Der Bluten Kat[1], Day Nurse[2] > Wife Soup[1], Dear Lord[1], Breathe[3]Encore: Jessica[4], Uncommon > Down Under[1] with Joshua Redman on saxophone[2] with Joshua Redman on saxophone; with Working Day and Night (Michael Jackson) teases[3] “dub” version[4] instrumental; just Joel on pianoNotes:entire show without JakeJessica played in remembrance of Butch TrucksSetlist: Spafford | College Street Music Hall | New Haven, CT | 1/26/2017Seven, Leave The Light On, Windmill, The Postman[Setlists courtesy of All Things Umphrey’s // Spafford Twitter Page]Spafford shows are now available to stream on LiveDownloads.com and Nugs.net. 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