Moe. brought the first part of their winter tour to a magnificent close last night at Calvin Theatre in Northampton, Massachusetts. Past moe. performances this venue have been known to be particularly awesome, and this night, with the focused and seamless playing from every single member on a slew of stellar jams, was absolutely no exception.
They started off the night in a neat way in with “Defrost,” showing from the start that they came to bring it, and this led into “Waiting For The Punchline,” which brought out early appreciation from the crowd. Then, things got really interesting with a relatively new tune, “Prestige Worldwide,” which invited the first of Jim Loughlin’s several fantastic xylophone solos throughout the night.
A high point for the first set came with a strongly played “Four,” where Chuck Garvey amped up the crowd with some blistering guitar work, and then boldly dropped into “Seat of My Pants.” During “Pants,” it was Al Schnier’s turn to let loose, and he did so wildly at the edge of the stage, at one point using the top of the closest fan’s head as a momentary slide guitar tool.
Set one closed in great style with “Mcbain” coming out of “Pants,” taking the band into a surging, repetitive and almost dark-sounding groove, on top of which Garvey’s solo reached sky high, complete with “Crosseyed and Painless” teases.
The second set was one long, phenomenal flow of music, uninterrupted from the first note to the last, with several sublime segues being the golden link between standout versions of multiple moe. staples.
A surefire way to start things off with a bang was the classic combination of “Tubing The River Styx,” with it’s follow up tunes “Deep The Time” and “The Pit.” The band had already built up a huge amount of momentum through this point when they coasted perfectly into a far-ranging “Recreational Chemistry,” that saw all five band members lock together into improvisational sync. This patiently explored jam made its way through very groovy, heady musical territory, before Al ratcheted it up with extensive, truly first-rate soloing, his best of the night. The heated climax here was already sending the crowd over the edge when it found its way gloriously back into “The Pit” for a great big, rocking sandwich.
But moe. was too musically in the zone to break things off here, and the beauty of this second set stretched even further, climbing out of “The Pit” towards a “Bullet” with crunchy improv playing that had the floor of fans transfixed. The Calvin Theatre was electric with energy, home to one of those crowds on one of those nights where there’s no question that everybody around you is feeling it.
The second set capped off with a succinct but solid “Brent Black,” where Loughlin and Amico shined the most with a fiery go at their drum break. The band then returned for an encore, and in addition to his Al-nouncements, Schiner thanked the crowd for a winter tour that was, in his words, “one of the best we’ve had in a long time.” Rob dangled a “Walking On The Moon” tease in front of the crowd, but they opted instead for a bit of feel-good in their own “Letter Home” and “New York City.”
After a brief break, moe. will return to the road to finish up their winter tour with three dates in Nashville, Birmingham, and Atlanta, before starting their spring tour in March.