Front Row Focus | Concert Review: Umphrey's McGee (February 18, 2017)

Concert Review: Umphrey's McGee (February 18, 2017)

February 21, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

ARTIST:  Umphrey's McGee

VENUE:  US Cellular Center, Asheville, NC

DATE:  February 18, 2017

Review By:  Joshua Marc Levy

Photos By:  David Simchock

Umphrey's McGee 2017-02-18 (Asheville, NC)Umphrey's McGee 2017-02-18 (Asheville, NC)© Copyright David Simchock Last year at about this time, Umphrey's McGee inaugurated the now-annual Blue Ridge Rockway weekend concert series at the arena, rocking out two nights in a row. In 2016, they were supported by New York City instrumental jam outfit, TAUK. This year, UM brought on board Greensky Bluegrass for a slight change of pace, but certainly with no less energy and fanfare. Another change to this year's event was the addition of a third night of music, down-sizing the venue to the cross-town Orange Peel, providing fans with a more intimate experience of Umphyre's McGee (minus the GSBG opener). Front Row Focus was in the US Cellular Center for the Saturday show, and we're glad we could make it.

Umphrey’s McGee has a dedicated fan base who is there for one purpose -- to have fun and rock out. Long-time fan Wally McLendon said, “The band played over 300 songs in 2016, plus they have over 200 covers in rotation. It’s an exciting time, they are on fire right now.”

After 19 years on the road, the band are masters of time, quickly morphing their songs across many genres including: metal, island, jam rock, electronic, jazz, and funk. The ability to combine some of these styles within a single song is what makes them special. Was that a 25-minute jam we just experienced, or was it a stretched out 5 minutes?
Umphrey's McGee 2017-02-18 (Asheville, NC)Umphrey's McGee 2017-02-18 (Asheville, NC)© Copyright David Simchock
Sometimes the introductions to these performances are mysterious and trippy “Pink Floyd-like” anthems. Band members switched up their instruments, and at one point guitarist Jake Cinninger was on keys and bass player Ryan Stasik was playing synthesizer. The first set ended with Greensky Bluegrass mandolinist/singer, Paul Hoffman, and Dobro guitarit, Anders Beck, for an epic cover of The Marshall Tucker Band’s “Can’t You See” which had everyone singing along. Brendan Bayliss, lead vocalist and guitar proclaimed, “Asheville, You look spectacular tonight!” The entire first set was arena rock gold.

Umphrey's McGee 2017-02-18 (Asheville, NC)Umphrey's McGee 2017-02-18 (Asheville, NC)© Copyright David Simchock The sound experience is married by lighting genius Jefferson Waful who seamlessly changes with the band, morphing white lights into full color in a flash. Sometimes the lights are smoke ring halos, whirling snowflake wave storms, or transported rainbow tornadoes trapped inside of triangular beams. At times the lights make the band appear to be trapped inside a flashing psychedelic hologram. It’s all about dynamic perception.

The show ended with an outstanding cover of Rush’s “Tom Sawyer,” as the crowd went wild, and long time fan William Byrd yelled out to me, “I’ll never miss another show!” Wally McLendon said, “It was the best “Puppet String” they have ever played.” Douglas Mischley declared, “I’m Speechless!”

Umphrey’s McGee, we’ll see you again next year. Let’s do the time warp again!

Set 1: Gurgle > Higgins, Make It Right, In The Kitchen > White Man's Moccasins, Puppet String[1], Can't You See[2]
Set 2: Mulche's Odyssey, Hajimemashite > JaJunk > Miami Virtue[3] > Remind Me, Professor Wormbog, Much Obliged > In The Kitchen > JaJunk[4]
Encore: Tom Sawyer
[1] with Jake on keys
[2] with Anders Beck on dobro and Paul Hoffman on vocals and mandolin
[3] with (Don't Fear) The Reaper (Blue Oyster Cult) teases
[4] with Top Gun Anthem (Harold Faltermeyer) tease



Umphrey's McGee 2017-02-18 (Asheville, NC)Umphrey's McGee 2017-02-18 (Asheville, NC)© Copyright David Simchock


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