Review: 2017-09-02 - Concord Hall Aftershow!

  • 2017-09-02: Concord Hall

    Having been at BB King's in NY and now the Concord here in Chicago, I can safely say there is something about a Spafford late-night show that makes me think of the movie Gremlins: do NOT feed this powerhouse quartet after midnight or they might turn sinister. Well, I don't know if they'd go so far as to throw any of their colleagues into a microwave and watch them explode, but they certainly know how to get downright NASTY and this night was no exception. From the opening chords of The Reprise opener, it was evident that the ensuing 2 1/2 hours would be something special. Like their hour-long opening sets for UM last winter, the afternoon set at North Coast might've been a somewhat less-than-satisfying opportunity to showcase their carefully crafted improvisational style. With the shackles off for an extended after-hours set, it would be a more fitting welcome to the previously uninitiated and a tantalizingly thrilling bonus for those of who knew exactly what we were getting into!

    The Reprise - what else to say but...WOW! What a rare opener (I think...)! Standing on the rail, it was immediately evident that Jordan's bass was turned way up fairly hot on the board, portending what would be a catalyst for so much of what drove the band tonight. Gone were Jordan's signature baseball cap, he instead opting to expose the brainwaves emanating from his head to process some of the most intricate playing I have heard from him to date. After the simple, yet forceful buildup to the song's ultimate climax, Brian's nimble fingers taking us through the ever familiar phrasing that makes this song such a Spafford anthem, it was easy to forget that this was the OPENER and not the usual tidy way of bidding us a hearty farewell.

    The boys took things down a bit at the end of The Reprise, then moved seamlessly into Funkadelic , where Jordan simply took over for large swaths of this steady jam, working every fret on the neck with laser focus and dexterity.

    On Fire was next, with Brian and Jordan each taking blistering solos before Cameron Laforest's drums held a steady, momentary pullback, only to build to one more signature crescendo before wrapping it up.

    Virtually every night, Brian Moss can be found floating on one foot while absolutely destroying his axe, aptly named "The Raven,"...with the utmost love, of course. On songs like All In, he shows just how nasty and sinister his playing can be and he pulled no punches this night. The 4th movement of the song found the foursome at their best, the interplay between the rhythm section serving to underscore a signature shred from one of the true masters in the genre. I'll admit, I am an out and out Brian Moss JUNKIE! I find myself throwing my hands in the air as if it's not possible that I am watching someone who rarely wastes a note, whose facility is so superb, that it's impossible NOT to watch virtually every moment. I was only snapped out of it when he did his best....Eddie Van Halen impression??...beckoning the audience with his raise right hand to turn up the volume while he repeatedly ripping arpeggios with his left. Lest I forget to give Cam his due, this jam simply wouldn't pack the same punch without the rhythmic fills that Cam makes sound like he's been doing it for years!

    Call me crazy, but if Jerry Garcia sat down to write a song with Levon Helm, you might be listening to Mind's Unchained. This song has grown on me to the point where it triggers such joy. What a welcome...respite??...after All-In shakes me to my core. It's certainly not a respite from "killing it," which they continued to do...of course. :-)

    Salamander Song - I'm still dancing the whole way home...and I've been home since 3 A.M.!!

    There's something about The Postman...another anthem in the cannon of great tunes. Let me digress for a moment. I'm 44, I'm a Deadhead, I love pre-1997 Phish and that's ABOUT where it ends for me as far as self-proclaimed "jam bands" are concerned. I don't do UM, SCI, STS9, WP or most of the other acronyms (except JRAD which is a favorite). My point is...I don't get on board withe these bands simply BECAUSE they're jam bands. None of them command the love that I feel for this band and that is simply because they write GREAT TUNES! The Postman is no exception...a delicately crafted opus that incorporates so much of what this band embodies....a little groove, a little prog rock, some whimsical flights of fancy and some hard driving funk! And 17 minutes're changed.

    Red Johnson's turn to take over vocals, as the band eases their way into Slip and Squander.The intro to this song has a somewhat slippery way of beginning, so...kudos for that! Not much more to say except...hell to the yeah! Red was all OVER the place this night. I've seen him utilize the full extent of his available boards before, but he seemed to be hovering most of the night, bouncing back and forth, often spread eagled, as he navigated multiple circuitry on just about every tune.

    The closing of the main set saw a blistering Electric Taco Stand...ummm...holy smokes! When it ended, Brian nodded to Jordan and Red with a "Let's break now..." and five minutes later, they returned for a 2 song tour de force...beginning with...

    Leave the Light I need to make one observation here. I'm not sure if it's because they are still easing Cam into the repertoire on some songs, but a few of them, including Leave the Light On, have seen a slight downtick in tempo. It's just noticeable enough to change the dynamics of the explorations on which they embark as a unit. I don't enjoy the songs any less, but I wouldn't mind seeing them back at a more upbeat tempo. That's not to say they didn't being the HEAT on this one...because they certainly did! I would've thought this would be the final song of the night, but fortunately the ravenous (see what I did there?) had one more face-melt left in them....something a nasty Virtual Bean Dip would certainly cure, right? Ohhhhhh yes...and it sounded like it would never end. I had moved to the back of the venue for the encore so I could make sure I snagged a Jon Rose special poster created for the show, but the sheer power and driving force of VBD reverberated through the entire venue and drew me right back to the front. What a way to cap off the night!

    HOW many days til fall tour??

  • 6up

    great review..
    here's to hoping they release this one as a nugs d'load :)

  • Thanks for sharing!

    Countdown to fall tour: 23 days!

  • @mdjabber Fantastic show and what a great review! Love that we're able to listen to the show so quickly afterwards :)

  • @razpperryjam
    Big thanks to the band and management for making it so hassle free to make taping the band possible. In this instance I was guested and cleared with the venue ahead of time. This rarely happens with other taper-friendly artists I follow - it's the least I can do to get their recording up quickly.

  • @razpperryjam Thanks!!! Looking back, there are only a few sentences I'd change...which is a win!! LOL. The Jerry/Levon should be...just Jerry, but I'm very self-critical. :-)

  • @Jayson1974 Thanks, Jayson!

  • @mdjabber Really enjoyed this review man. Good stuff!

  • @ObiJuanKenobi Your signature... I just used that quote to describe times with my phish phamily. Love it!

  • A

    @mdjabber great review, thanks! I'm totally with you on the point that the song writing and sound of this band is above and beyond.... I'm the furthest thing from a scenester but these songs are irresistible bliss and I don't get the sense that they ever rely on old tricks when they take the stage. And
    Postman is my jam lately... Progalicious!

  • @Johnny-Love Thanks, Johnny! Great group here, great site and a GREAT GREAT band! Can't remember being this pumped about being on the bandwagon so early in a band's development. See you on fall tour?? I'll be in Denver for all 3.

  • A

    @mdjabber would love to catch some shows out west but I'm tied to the Beast Coast ... will have to make the hajj to Phoenix one day

  • @Johnny-Love I hear that! I'm doing it on the way back from a work trip in LA. :-)

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