Review: 2019-10-25 - Ogden Theater- Denver, CO
mccuem last edited by Johnny Love
October 25th, 2019 was finally here! I hadn’t seen Spafford in four months and I was really jonsing for my own dose of the electro funk therapy. My wait was over and I was going to get to see the gents in their home away from home: Denver, Colorado. Beautiful weather greeted me as I stepped off the train from Denver International. I strolled around Union Station and killed time taking in the sites until it was time to check into the Air BnB for the evening. I briefly thought I’d go back through some of the sets of the past few shows and see if I could take a stab at a set list. I quickly realized that would be a waste of time as anytime I’ve tried to guess a set list they've far exceeded my expectations-- see the Red Rocks set from last year, who saw that coming?
If you get a chance the Ogden is an amazing venue! Listed at 1,600 capacity which I thought was a bit generous, but I did not go up to the balcony. Great sound, super efficient staff, and an impressive layout. I found myself just to the left of the soundboard for most of the night and had plenty of room to get down.
Alright, so I took my own advice and got to the show early. Excited to secure my next Jon Rose. And he did not disappoint! Somehow We Make It. Three-color wood block edition of 50. Now I’m not going to get too hung up on it but there was a variant of this print and only a few were produced. I thought I’d be able to get one seeing as I had showed up early. Nope, all gone, next time get VIP.
(Image taken from Spafford FB Page)
Hanging out and chatting with nerds getting really excited for the next two nights of Spafford at the Ogden. Two nights is always a blast be cause you know that they will be bringing that hot fire! Well, as I’m sure you’ve heard by now, Night 1 Set 1 was utter insanity. No vocals, just jams (well there were a few moments I’ll elaborate on later) and possibly some foreshadowing to next week’s holiday and defiantly some reminiscing.
Opening the set was the ominous tones of Halloween Theme before they segued into what Nugs (and by extension the band) called Themes Jam 1. Overall the evening would give us 6 of these seques in the first set. I thought to myself that was interesting, had I heard that before? Yeah, in 2014, the only other time it was ever played. Hmmm, is there something to this?
Next up the Legend of Zelda Theme! What a rarity! Only played once before! Thanks Spaffnerds.com! After the Legend wrapped up the boys took us on another funky 20+ minutes of improv! I’m not going to do any sort of descriptions justice so do yourself a favor and pull up this recording! All I can say is that I danced my ass off in anticipation of another possible dusting off of a rare song.
My questions were answered a short 20-minute jam later when Red started into Celine Dione’s My Heart Will Go On! Last played at my second ever Spafford show in Flagstaff in 2014. Slowly it dawns on me that they boys are taking songs from Halloweens past and tossing them into their Jams! Brian takes over for Red and while I expected one of them to step up to a mic and sing perhaps the chorus, what really happened blew me away! The crowd started singing, and from what I could make out, they nailed the lyrics. I got goosebumps from all the feels. Spafford was connecting with their fans and it’s one of those cool concert experiences when the fans and band share a moment. Never thought I’d be raving about a Celine Dion song but there is a first for everything I guess. (BTW I went back and looked it up for you. 1:20 mark of the Nugs recording you can hear the crowd singing!)
Another Jam brought us to one of my favorites of the night! The Ghostbusters theme from the 2016 Halloween show! Sped up a little it really got the crowd going and asses shaking. I think that Spafford just jammed to let us catch our breath before they threw another cover on us to get us going!
Another Jam and then they segued seamlessly into The Lion Sleeps Tonight, resurrected from The Parish at the House of Blues in NOLA 2 years ago! They alter between Lion Sleeps, a Jam, then back into the Halloween Theme to wrap up the first set for us. Really cool and unique. I can’t state how cool this was, I just need you to go give it a spin on Nugs or here on the show page with the site's built-in media player.
Set one started with that funky bassline announcing My Road (My Road) and I need to ask you all, has anyone else noticed the evolution in Jordan's bass playing? He seems to be ever evolving. From some heavy plucking around NYE to this new silky smooth playing. Again I don’t know much, this was just a side-note by me.
Low followed up next, originally by Cracker. According to Spaffnerds.com this was another song that was last played at a Halloween show in Flagstaff last year. This song had every one around me singing off key and I could tell that everyone around me was having the time of their lives!
Dirtbath! Now if I had to make a list of songs that would make an appearance on a two-night run this would definitely be on that list. Debuted a mere 8 months ago this gem has seen a setlist quite often. This is one that I just can’t describe. Such an epic jam, tempo changes bobbing and then weaving worthy of multiple re-listens! Just when you are getting lost in the cries of the Raven, Jordan and Nick pick things up and the jam turns a corner.
Remember I said that some of us had started to sing off key? Well, for Lonely it was not only off Key but a bunch of us singing LOUDLY off key! An original and one of my current favorites. It think it also really showcases their writing (nice work Chuck). Uptempo and fun to dance to, Lonley had those around me really getting down!
Gold Glittered Hat was one that I had hoped to catch this weekend. Less than a month since its debut I was curious to see if Spafford would take this out for an extended jam as I believe it has the potential to turn into a new staple jam. I say that because it think that they are still holding back on this one, can’t wait to hear what they do with it moving forward.
Ok, this last one was a complete surprise! Under the Bridge by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. If I thought I was loud and off key before, multiply that by 10! When Brian played those opening licks I was floored! The perfect cover to end the night!
Ain’t That Wrong brought the evening to a close. A member of the old guard, this uptempo jam got the last of my energy out. Toward the end of this song I had to touch my face and make sure it was still there and hadn’t melted completely. This song is what I hope Gold Glittered Hat can evolve into, plenty of room for jams and the ability to alternate tempos or in this case whip us into a frenzy before dropping us back into the final chorus, setting us back on solid ground with Brian telling us he will see us tomorrow.
Night 1 in the books. Can’t wait to rage with you everyone Night 2.
One last thing, did you guys see that Jambase released a list of the top 20 fan sites in the last 20 years? In case you haven't, here it is. @damian has done such a great job with this site. Please spread the word if you haven't already. I know that a lot of others do a lot of behind the scenes work on this page so I just wanted to take a second to say thanks for all you do!