After three weeks of Spaffnerds tearing each other apart, consoling one another, and having emotions and rumors flying around like crazy, The day was finally here. Would Nick be able to come back and keep Spafford at the level they had been performing, or would he come back and show his two years of rust? It was my first time at The Civic and I very much enjoyed the venue. New Orleans based Soul Rebels got the party going as the Nerds started flowing in. The venue was filled reasonably well allowing for optimum dancing space.
Take Your Mama started the show, which given the hype was not the song I wanted out of the gate. That being said it actually worked out in the best way because there were sound issues abound during this, so it allowed for everyone to readjust for what I'm going to say was the true opener, Electric Taco Stand. I was very pleased to hear it had not been taken down in tempo and for the most part got through the composed section nicely. Then the surprise of the night came as the jam transitioned into John Coltrane's Impressions. Here we all were expecting the return of the Untz Factor and on the opening jam they transition into a jazz standard. Looking back since it was jazz fest I should not have been so surprised but I was truly blown away. Everyone took a solo showing off their jazzy licks one-by-one finishing with Brian before transitioning back into Electric Taco Stand. As the peak of ETS came, smiles came onto everyone's face and the biggest one of all was on the face of Nick.
Comfortable continued the show which ended up being the only "newer" song played of the evening. Not too much to say beyond it was well played and nice to see Nick seemed pretty Comfortable on it (see what i did there?). The highlight of the night came next in the form of All In. Again the band got through the composed section with minimal flubbing, and then the jam came and reared its monstrous head. The slow funk section got a healthy dose of Red's organ which then transitioned into the tempo being sped up and Red moving over to a clean piano sound. The band locked in together as the familiar untz beat filled the air and Brian's solo began. Brian pushed his solo deep into the stratosphere and the tempo never lost its edge as it came crashing into the ending segment. Beautiful stuff!
The bouncing rhythm of Mind's Unchained continued the show which is one that I really wanted to see Nick on! Really loved the jam of this one. Super spacey psychedelic Red keyboard lines filled the air as everyone kept a slow but steady pace underneath until the build into Brian's solo. Really good contrast jam from the untzed out All In from the song before. The Postman showed a little bit of rust on Ole St. Nick, through the composed section he had a little bit of trouble but more than made up for it in the jam. Red laid a great foundation down after his solo using some wild sounds from his Virus keyboard that Brian was able to weave his way through for the opening section of his solo. An epic peak finished the jam off as the final section of The Postman arrived. Jordan and Nick traded a little solo section back and forward before Brian delivered the final piece of mail.
Leave The Light On concluded the historic set in style. The opening jam was anchored by an epic Brian solo, but the madness came in the second jam. Shortly into the second jam Red walks off stage for a few moments before returning with none other than Joel Cummins from Umphrey's McGee. Joel took his solo which Nick used to push the tempo back into the untz beat before the band switched into Brian's solo. Clocking in at the 23 minute mark the band left it all out on the stage as they sang the ending Leave The Light On's and the crowd roared with excitement.
There really wasn't a better choice for an encore than a stand alone Weasel. The Untz Factor Nick gives to the band had returned and they solidified it with a short but strong Weasel. I had a lot of emotions going into this show but I left with a feeling of excitement. Whether you agree with the band's choice or not, I strongly urge you to go see a show and find out yourself. Above all else all the members of the band seemed very happy and that is what is most important. Welcome back Nick! Let's do it again real soon