Saturday, October 20, 2007

Umphrey's McGee: Live at the Murat

Written by Fumo Verde

To start off, I’m sorry not to have been at either of these shows. Umphrey’s McGee played the Murat Egyptian Room in Indianapolis, IN on April 6th & 7th 2007, and just from listening to this dual-disc set I wish I had seen this show. This coming from a kat who has seen them only three times, and each time they get better and better. Live at the Murat is typical UM, high energy, unbelievable improvisation, inspiring lyrics and powerful jams. These katz are professionals and they pride themselves on giving it all when on stage, and from the shows I have seen along with reviews from others who have seen them live, UM never disappoints.

I don’t know if either night started with “The Kitchen” but Disc One does. The number came in four parts with the band jamming for almost twenty minutes, revving up the crowd and getting them involved right away. From there they bust into “Higgins” followed by the “The Fuzz.” These two songs rip the top off the scene as the band goes supernova into “Nothing Too Fancy.” While Myers and Farag drive the rhythm with drums and percussion, the guitars face off between Bayliss and Cinninger, rocketing skyward like a dogfight between fighter jets. The raw power the band generates can be felt through the sound of the crowd with their screams and cheers. When you scream at an Umphrey’s McGee show, it is in between the gasps of breath you try to take in while sweating like a beast, grinning from ear to ear.

Disc Two is more of the same and that’s not a bad thing. “40’s Theme” opens up and once again the crowd is immediately involved. Chanting back the lyrics and responding in unison, the crowds at UM shows play a big part. The band feeds off the energy of the audience and vice versa. “Push the Pig” slows things down a bit, giving the crowd a rest as Bayliss and Cinninger tickle their guitar strings. Cummins has some super-spacey sounds coming out of the keys as Stasik thumps about along with the rhythm. This all goes down between the new segments the band just rehearsed backstage before the show (I found this out via the liner notes). “White Man’s Moccasins” opens up an array of sound the band produces due to the talent they have. Cummins’ piano-playing along with the percussion sounds Farag keeps mixing in give off images of lush tropical islands with crystal-clear waterfalls dropping from black lava rock mountains. The guitars, drums, and bass join in almost making this track operatic: bold, full, energetic.

The tracks on this album were picked by the band, and not only do they play well, they are great judges of their own music. It’s hard for bands to put together a live show but Live at the Murat is one of those special times when a great band has an unbelievable performance and it’s edited just right so the listener comes away feeling like they were there. The liner notes said that this is their first “live” CD; I think they did a fine job.

Thank you, UM. This is a great set.