Coming off a busy winter tour, Umphrey’s McGee thrilled a packed house at Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom in Hampton, New Hampshire with a blistering show on Saturday. With a little more hard rock edge and progressive rock leanings, Umphrey’s McGee doesn’t appeal to everyone in the jam band scene, but there is no denying that the band is playing in top form and impressing new and diehard fans alike as they relentlessly tour the country.
On this night UM made home of the century old Hampton Beach Casino. The 5,000 person venue has seen some of the world’s top musicians, including Jerry Garcia, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. It was clear that the band was happy to be back playing the historic venue for the first time since 2014. Guitarist and lead singer Brendan Bayliss made a point of mentioning the good shows they had played at the Ballroom in the past and his hope that Saturday night’s performance would top them all.
By every account, it most likely did. The band opened with two instrumental songs, “Tango Mike,” followed by the very funky and rocking crowd pleaser, “Smell The Glove.” Bayliss sang lead on “Crucial Taunt.” The heart of the first set came next with an experimental “Uncle Wally” and monster versions of “In The Kitchen” and “Nothing Too Fancy” to close the first set. The latter three songs together clocked in at over 45 minutes.
The racing and fast-paced “Hurt Bird Bath” opened the second set. “Walletsworth” came next with nice dueling guitars and some piano work from Joel Cummings. “Cut Off,” played for only the fifth time, was a treat with the percussion work getting the energy of the crowd to peak level.
The 15-minute “Draconian” brought the energy down but was captivating and worked into some progressive jams before the band broke out the only cover of the evening, a spot on version of David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance.” Jake Cinninger nailed the vocals and the crowd was in full dance mode. After the fun cover, the band got sinister again with “Bridgeless,” an Umphrey’s staple that contains some of their most ambitious guitar work and heavy metal riffs. The familiar and inspiring combination of “Bridgeless” into “August” and back into “Bridgeless” was the climax of the second set, showcasing some of Umphrey’s best original work and musicianship. The band came out for one encore, another Umphrey’s staple, “Division,” which featured percussion and drum solos by Kris Myers and Andy Farag.
Written and photographed by JD Cohen
Setlist – Umphrey’s McGee 5/20/2017 at Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom in Hampton, NH
Set 1: Tango Mike > Smell the Mitten, Crucial Taunt, Uncle Wally > In The Kitchen, Nothing Too Fancy
Set 2: Hurt Bird Bath, Walletsworth, Cut Off > Draconian, Let’s Dance*, Bridgeless > August >Bridgeless