The opening week of Grand Rapids’ newest concert venue continued Thursday with hours of adventurous prog-rock courtesy of Chicago jam band Umphrey’s McGee. Review, photo gallery, set list.
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Like a marathon runner, Umphrey’s McGee showed off its athletic approach to live performance from the get-go Thursday night at 20 Monroe Live.
It was off to the races from the moment the band took the stage at the freshly opened downtown concert venue, with a loud and loudly dressed audience of die-hard fans along for the ride.
Harmonized guitars, aggressive drumming and futuristic synth sounds adorned each semi-improvised song. Delivering 15-minute jams that energized fans from 20 Monroe’s large mezzanine level to the happy throng on the floor, Umphrey’s brought a festival-sized stage presence to light up the near-capacity crowd in the new venue’s second official concert.
Phoenix, Ariz.’s Spafford kicked things off with skillfully unleashed prog-rock and funk grooves while the venue began to fill, inducing many concertgoers to start dancing before they even made it beyond the venue’s lobby.
When the house lights dimmed for Umphrey’s McGee, devoted fans clad with “Umph Love” stickers – some of whom have followed the band on tour to dozens of shows – pushed their way toward the stage barricade.
“We’ve missed you,” said vocalist/guitarist Brendan Bayliss at the top of the show. (The band last played Grand Rapids when it made a tour stop in August at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park.)
“But we’ve also missed someone else,” continued Bayliss, pointing to fellow vocalist/guitarist Jake Cinninger, who was back in action Thursday after sitting out the band’s last four tour stops due to the flu.
UNIQUE COVERS AND THE RETURN OF UMPHREY’S GUITARIST
Cinninger looked eager to be back at work. The Michigan native soared through solo after solo with finesse, leading the band in and out jams using a series of hand signals.
Umphrey’s has no touring set list, instead choosing a new list of songs for each tour stop. On Thursday, the band seemed to decidedly forgo its better-known material in favor of deeper cuts such as “Visions” and “Night Nurse.”
Still, the crowd roared its approval through two sets lasting more than an hour each.
A cover of The Temptations classic “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” was met with cheerful dancing, and an especially powerful rendition of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” saw Umphrey’s’ signature light show at its most effective.
With bright white lights casting a glow on the entire crowd of 2,000-plus during “Gulf Stream,” Cinninger chanted, “All my friends are here right now and this is what we came to do” –- a tasteful send off for a satisfied audience.
Opening week at 20 Monroe Live continues tonight (Feb. 3) with Lynyrd Skynyrd and Laith Al-Saadi. See the full schedule online at 20monroelive.com.
And check out the Local Spins review and photo galleries from Wednesday’s opening night concert featuring Trombone Shorty and Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seeker.
PHOTO GALLERY: Umphrey’s McGee at 20 Monroe Live
Photos by Anna Sink
SET LIST: Umphrey’s McGee at 20 Monroe Live
(Courtesy of @umphreysmcgee)
Flamethrower > The Floor
Night Nurse > Bright Lights, Big City
Visions > Ain’t Too Proud to Beg (The Temptations cover) > Red Tape
Soul Food 1 > Soul Food 2 > Soul Food 3
Comfortably Numb (Pink Floyd cover)
Copyright 2017, Spins on Music LLC