Review: 2018-01-12 - The Miramar Theater - Milwaukee, WI
2018 is going to be a big year for Spafford if this most recent start to their For Your Amusement Only Tour is any indication.
The excitement bubbling around this show was at an all-time high. The show sold out a good week-and-a-half before doors and many people were left looking for tickets for the show. Just goes to show that the phrase, "buy in advance guaranteed to dance" definitely rings true. So this is just a PSA for all you wooks out there to buy your tickets in advance so you won't get shut out.
My friends, unfortunately, aren't as smart as I am and about a dozen of them didn't get tickets so, of course, were like little helpless puppies. Luckily for them I was able to somehow work magic and find tickets and get them all into the show. They are forever indebted to me.
All the nerds met up at a local bar just two doors down from The Miramar called the Black Rose. It ended up being a huge turnout and the bar had no idea why so many people were present, and I told them they could give me 50% of the bar sales for sending all these patrons their way. I never got my money, but I'm still holding out that I will.
Now to what matters the most. The Show.
There was no opener and we just got an evening with Spafford and it sure was quite an evening. The Miramar has a legal capacity of 400 people and I am almost positive there were more than that amount of people in the venue that evening. It was packed, energy was through the roof, and people were ready to dance.
A pretty neat story to share: a friend of mine, seeing their first show that evening, was talking with me before the show and wearing a shirt that was once owned by former Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers bass player Howie Epstein. Howie was from Milwaukee and my friend's family was friends with Howie's family and he had been gifted the shirt. Fate must be real because the band opened with their rendition of Breakdown by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and it was one to write home about. At over 15 minutes long they definitely stretched it out and grabbed everyone's attention. It was a great start to the evening and it was only going to get better.
Next up the band seamleslessly segued into My Road (My Road), a newer tune that was actually debuted in Madison, WI during Fall Tour. The song is quickly becoming a fan favorite and the jam sequence is always some smooth jazz funk and no one can complain about that.
Shake You Loose was on deck and the song has become one of my favorites of late. Just a good old-fashioned feel to it and the ladies love it. The dance party in The Miramar was just beginning.
The band started up Electric Taco Stand and that really got the crowd going. Taco Stand is one of the most fun songs in Spafford's catalogue and we got a special treat for this one with the > Dis Go in 5? > Taco Stand. The energy was through the roof when the band dropped back into the Taco Stand and some people actually thought the set was over and went to go outside and smoke, but nope, set not over.
Next up came Catfish John. Spafford does a phenomenal cover of this song and it never dissappoints. Spafford did play this the last time they were in Milwaukee, but it didn't even matter. After that ETS, Spafford could have played the fucking ABCs and everyone still would have a giant grin and be throwing down on the dance floor. That's how this Catfish John was. Raging. The band stopped and we all got a chance to catch our breath and refill on the booze and water that we all desperately needed.
Would like to take a second to note how much this sell out means to Milwaukee. The Miramar theater doesn't sell out jam shows really, ever. For the band to sell it out is great but so far in advance was awesome. The whole venue was full of friends and familiar faces and it couldn't have been more fun. It was great to catch up with lots of friends over set break, but everyone was ready for the second set after that monster first set.
Lovesick Melody, a new song, started to open the second set and it goes into Soil, which is another new tune. These songs have been played together now a few times and it seems its a suite, and it's a great new addition to the band's catalogue. Soil is some deep groovy funk and has the potential for massive jams in its future. It was a great version. The real insanity was just beginning.
Just before Weasel started my friend was like where is the Untz, I heard theses guys had untz! Boom! 10 seconds later, WEASEL. Weasel was not played too often on fall tour, but boy did it make a comeback. UNTZ UNTZ UNTZ. I don't really know what happened, all I know is that it was FUN. From the beginning Red lays down these long deep dark keys and the jam builds from there to some crazy peak and you don't think it can get any better until a seamless segue into Palisades. Alright. Someone pinch me. This beautiful composition is a treat. It's got beauty, finesse, and rock all meshed into one and it's the best. The greatest part about it is you know that the drop back into the UNTZ is coming. After Palisades blew people's minds the band dropped back into Weasel and all the noobs had no idea what just hit them. I highly recommend listening to this version because it's superb.
Honestly the show could have ended right there and I would have been content. But there was more music and I'm okay with that too.
Next up was After Midnight. Spafford crushed it. The real highlight was the outro jam where they slowly creep into Mind's Unchained. Mind's Unchained is a fucking great song. Everything about it. Lyrics, composition, jam. Up there in my top 3 Spafford songs. It wasn't too long, but it sure did pack a punch.
All In. Let me say after the ETS sequence and the Weasel sequence, now we got this ALL IN. This was epic. Just would like to comment on Cam's drumming during this because it's otherworldly. Does the guy have 8 arms? The jam took us to the moon and it was like an intergalactic drum circle. These guys are good.
Band leaves stage everyone is sad.
Band come back everyone is happy.
Into The Mystic was a treat, not too often played and had the crowd feeling all the feels, but they weren't done and as they went right into Galisteo Way the energy was insane. The jam had a nice pretty jam to it that was kind of influenced by Into The Mystic.
Show ended and the band got such an ovation it was amazing.
Milwaukee loves Spafford.
Sadly now I have to wait til March for some more shows out in the mountains, but things could be worse....
Photo Credits: Adam Mizewski- Adjomi Photography ( my good friend!)
@Josh your passion and love for Spafford is contagious. I loved this review and this show is straight up magic! While the SBDs are the place to go, I suggest everyone listen to at least a chunk of the AUDs from this show to hear that audience. All rooms love Spafford but the FIRE in that room sounded particularly hot. May your future feature many more Weasels, Dis Go in 5s, and rooms full of friends! Peace man!
@Josh You have penned one of the greatest lines I have ever read in ANY review:
"After that ETS, Spafford could have played the fucking ABCs and everyone still would have a giant grin and be throwing down on the dance floor".
This my friend is an epic statement.