Review: 2017-10-17 - Majestic Theater - Madison, WI
I couldn't have pictured a better fall evening to make the drive from Milwaukee to Madison. I packed the car with three good friends and my wife and we were on our way to catch our favorite band.
I had a feeling something special was in store for us on this night, the last Madison stop was one of my favorite shows to date (and sadly there is no recording of it). One of the things about tonight that was awesome is that there were a lot of other people I knew who had made the short trek from Milwaukee to Madison as well. Little did these folks know there were about to have their socks thoroughly rocked.
The opening Slip and Squander was the perfect way to open this night. This is without a doubt my favorite Spafford song (even before I learned that Chuck had written it). Red signing Chuck's poetic words, Brian's soaring guitars, this truly is quintessential Spafford to me, it is a complete work by everyone involved. It was a very well-played version, it’s not the type of song that needs type II treatment, and had musical goosebumps crawling over me.
Following Slip and Squander the crowd was treated to Seven. While not necessarily the biggest bust out of the night this marked its 10th time played overall. It’s still a rarity considering this is one of the oldest songs to date making its appearance on their self-titled album. The jam section of the song was pretty rocking and overall a very welcome addition to the setlist.
Next up was the jam vehicle All In. This definitely got the room moving and grooving. You could see the majority of the crowd belting out the lyrics along with Jordan. The second half of the song brought a particularly intense jam and let Brian really show off his chops. Needless to say faces were definitely melted by this one.
As the next song started [My Road (My Road)], I was a bit puzzled. I didn't recognize the song at all. I'm really pretty familiar with their original's catalog and am usually able to pick up on cover songs, yet I still couldn't tell right away. Jordan started with a nice bass line with Brian adding an uplifting melody while Red began to chime in on vocals. After a few measures, it had started to dawn on me, this was a new song and if I was going to guess, it was penned by Chuck. Let me just say this was by far the highlight for me on this night. One thing I had said on the drive to Ann Arbor over the weekend was I hope to hear something I have yet to hear live and boy did this deliver. This song really has it all and I don't want to go into much detail so fellow nerds can experience it for themselves, but I could definitely see this one becoming my favorite Spafford song.
To close the set came another fan favorite, Walls. I thoroughly enjoyed this version as the jam before the drop into one of the final verses was really satisfying. With being in the capitol city for Wisconsin, I was hoping to get the original lyrics back but alas, we are all still chasing that! It didn't get quite as out there as some other versions of the song have but it was a perfect way to go into set break.
There wasn't a whole lot of commotion at set break. I held down my spot directly in the center of the room in front of the soundboard and slightly above the pit area. One great thing about this spot is the visibility and sight lines, I swear Brian was watching me for a majority of the show. I had several people come up to me discussing how Spafford has "it" and that they will most definitely be the next big thing.
As the lights dimmed and the band took the stage the opening notes of Windmill rang out. This was an awesome treat for the wife and I. She's only heard the song once before at the Tonic Room so it wasn't an ideal experience. As for myself it brought me back to my first Spafford show out in Colorado in December of 2015. It was also only the third time I've heard it so I was pretty happy to see it after nearly a year and almost a dozen shows. This song never disappoints, a notable pause before giving into the almost Pink Floyd like second half. Definitely another highlight of the night.
The next segment began with Aeroplane. This launched the crowd into a full-fledged singing and dancing frenzy. Jordan absolutely crushes this song on both his bass and the vocals and this time was no different. This was a pleasure for me as it added to my list of songs I hadn't seen live yet. This Aeroplane never stopped and segued beautifully into Alternate Ending, or in this case Alternate Beginning.
This marks only the second time ever that Alternate Ending had been played outside of an Electric Taco Stand sandwich and was truly an epic version. Throughout the night I had noticed the chompers were out in full effect at some points almost becoming unbearable to the point I had a hard time focusing on the music. The Alternate Ending changed that, it took the crowd into outer space and left the room silent. It really was a sight to behold.
Coming out of Alternate Ending I could hear the peak to Electric Taco Stand coming on strong. I turned to my wife and remarked that this could be the closest we've gotten to an inverted ETS yet. The peak came on strong and it was pretty awesome because right at the top of said peak, Brian brought it back to the beginning with the opening chords of ETS. This ETS was really quite cool just for the fact that it followed Alternate Ending and to me, seemed inverted. The Ann Arbor ETS was one of my favorites to date and this one definitely rivaled that.
The segue out of ETS was really fun and I thought I could hear Jordan starting to give way to the beginning of The Reprise. This song is always a fun set closer because Brian really goes balls-to-the-walls on the final section, very much like the ending of All In. You could tell the crowd was eating it up and more than happy to be dancing the night away.
As the band walked off stage I was wondering what could they really add to take this night over the top. My question would be answered with probably the biggest bust out of the night, Crazy. This is an old Spafford song making its debut on their self-titled album alongside Seven. This marks the sixth time that Crazy has been played since 2012 making it extra special. Belting out the lyrics to this one many times in my car alone, I was happy to finally be belting them out alongside fellow nerds. I couldn't have pictured a more perfect ending to the evening.
After the show we made our way out by the bus to greet the guys. They welcomed us with open arms and I got to catch up a bit with Red and Brian since I didn't get to see much of them in Ann Arbor. I got to tell them how much I enjoyed the new song, Red confirmed my suspicions that it was indeed one of Chuck's poems and that they were still trying to pick a name but had most likely landed on My Road (My Road). After a bit more chatter, we said our goodbyes and wandered back to the car to make the trek home, hearts and heads full of the beautiful music of one of our favorite bands.
It's been an absolute blast getting to know the guys and their crew over the last two years and watching just how far they've come since the first time I saw them at a little bar in Colorado. I am lucky to have found one of my favorite fanbases of all time among you, my fellow nerds!
*A huge THANK YOU to Madleen Alsabbah of Coastykid Captures for the AMAZING photos!
oh fuck yeah. well done lope-Z!
@Lopez UGH I had to work last minute so gifted my ticket to a friend. Thanks for such a great review of the night so I at least know what I missed! Love the part about finding one of your favorite fan bases, I couldn't agree more!