Umphrey’s McGee kicked off a two-night stand at New York City’s Beacon Theatre last night. Joining the prog-jam six-piece was saxophonist Joshua Redman, who’s chemistry with the band, and specifically guitarist Jake Cinninger, took both sets in to gorgeous space-jazz jams.
The band hit promptly at 9pm with a “You Got the Wrong Guy” > “Cut the Cable” segue that only lasted about 6 minutes. The short songs would not prove to be commonplace throughout the rest of the 2.5+ hours worth of music that Umphrey’s jammed with just 16 songs.
Redman joined the band on the final three tracks of the first set. Inside of that time, a 16-minute “Similar Skin” > “End of the Road” acted as a roaring introduction to those in attendance who may not know what Redman does. His lingering saxophone during the intro to “Similar Skin” was received with great applause. A set-closing, 14-minute “Hurt Bird Bath” got real heavy and proggy after Redman left the stage, prompting Cinninger to take on an “all eyes on me” mentality. Check out last night’s performance of “Hurt Bird Bath” below…
Set two wasted no time before hopping face-first in to forward-thinking, mind-altering jams. Jake Cinninger took a break from his guitar tapping to express himself alongside Joel Cummins on the keys. The two let it get weird up there as the set-opening “Nothing Too Fancy” propelled fans in to dance-rock excitement.
Redman came back out for the upbeat “Educated Guess” before the now-7-piece embraced their hip-hop roots on “Professor Warmbog.” I’m sure Stasik wanted to spit a verse up there, as he’s been known to do, but he refrained. Redman’s saxophone genius fit right in with the g-funk beat, and it served as an under-the-radar highlight for yours truly.
The final half-hour worked to satisfy fans of the hard-n-heavy improv-jam that has become Umphrey’s signature style during their tenure. “Ringo” allowed Cinninger to take over vocal duties before the band blew the roof off with “Wappy Sprayberry” > “Hajimemashite,” a balls-to-the-wall energy drainer for the audience.
The band rounded the night out with an encore featuring a cover of David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” and a finishing of “Nothing Too Fancy.” After an impressive show, the band does it again tonight, back at the Beacon Theatre.
Set One: You Got the Wrong Guy > Cut the Cable, #5 > Walletsworth, Red Tape, Similar Skin > End of the Road, Hurt Bird Bath
Set Two: Nothing Too Fancy > August, Educated Guess, Professor Wormbog, Ringo, Wappy Sprayberry > Hajimemashite
Encore: Let’s Dance > Nothing Too Fancy  with Joshua Redman  with Jake on keys  unfinished
Notes: with Voodoo Child (Jimi Hendrix) tease by Jake before Red Tape