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Review by jwelsh, posted 17 October 2012 12:48 pm EDT, attached to 2008-10-16

Set One:

Walletsworth is pretty straightforward. Alex's House; song gets a bad rap. This one is really patient at the end, and Joel's spiraling keyboards move seamlessly into Meeting In the Aisle. Simply perfect segue . . . Up next, Wappy Sprayberry. So far, there wasn't much improv. But the last three songs have a really good feel to them. The jam in Wappy starts with this great mix of airiness and funkiness, at the same time. Hard to describe, but it works really well. Great bit of improv before it returns to Wappy around the 14-minute mark; then enters into more improv . . . Really great tone on Jake's guitar here; very Santana-like. Or, on the other hand, Rolling Stones, as he busts into "Can't You Hear Me Knocking." Which is jammed right into Der Bluten Kat.

So, up until this point, the set was around 42 minutes in length -- the DBK is about 25 minutes. The first jam shows some patience, but not too much territory is covered. The second starts off promising with some riffing from Jake. And over a few minutes, it builds into a fast-paced jam. Impressive . . . and back into DBK. And then Kris drum solo, before speeding into the ending of DBK. Nice and driving. Great way to end the set.

Set Two:

Prowler starts things off after some playful rumblings on the Moog. Pretty standard Prowler that segues wonderfully into the end of All In Time, finishing off the version from the other night. It takes on a fun little dub vibe before the "Well endowed" section. Really great build to this reprise -- makes you wonder if it should be separated more often. Lots of energy.

Low rumblings before beginning The Crooked One. The main theme of the song slowly dissipates and leaves just Joel on piano with the guitarists making some noise. You can hear Ryan carrying a bassline. This continues for a bit as they feel each other out. As I have said on a number of occasions in these reviews, lots of patience here. Open and spacey. Kris starts to drumm with more emphasis, and the crowd begins to clap along. Building . . . Joel switches to Rhodes, some Moog, little riffing from Jake. Great to hear each band member playing something different, and how well it works together. And out pops the "Let Me Blow Your Mind" teases.

Great transition into Got Your Milk. And the song is pushed a bit, right after the "Shirt stain" line. Driving, linear, as if the normal riff just wouldn't stop. Then it opens up, as they did all run; piano work from Joel, great little riffs from Jake. Man, this is good. A must hear Got Your Milk, imo. With a perfect segue into Nothing Too Fancy. Such a great section of music right there. (Got Your Milk without the "Atkins!" yell.) Fancy is pretty tame, actually, heading into the I Am the Walrus segue. Coming out of Walrus is much more interesting, with the "Rhiannon" teases and the keyboard work for Joel pre-N2F reprise. They are really drawing this out, with one "Rhiannon" section and then another. About six-and-a-half minutes before the Fancy really starts to appear. Lots of Pony thumping away.

Intentions Clear is a bit of an odd encore choice, actually. Pretty straightforward. Just, well, a good stand alone song. Now, the last song of the run, though, was a treat. Especially with Mr. Al Di Meola in attendance. A Senor Mouse to send people home smile.

Highlights for me are the Alex's > Meeting In the Aisle > Wappy. And the All In Time ending. And most definitely the Got Your Milk jam into N2F.

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Review by jwelsh, posted 17 October 2012 12:47 pm EDT, attached to 2008-10-15

Set One:

Gotta love the slinky, slow introduction to All In Time. Bluesy, patient, playful. Great start to the night. Nice rocking jam in the middle of AIT. Lot's of pace, without being too heavy. And then slowly, the jam grows into this soaring jam. Perfectly. Kris driving it, Jake soloing beautifully, Joel laying on the organ . . . Wow. Took me by surprise. And then it drops into a metal-like riff. Covering all sorts of ground in this opening (unfinished) AIT.

Say what you will, but I don't mind Gulf Stream. I do enjoy the melody and Brendan's vocals. This version changes key during the closing jam, it seems, and takes on a different feeling. And then the song dissolves into a Atmosfarag-sounding section with Jake beat boxing in the background. Oh, wait, it is Atmosfarag.

Atmosfarag dissolves out (with a tease of "Love Hurts," maybe, or some other hard rock ballad?) as Andy's Last Beer kicks in. The Andy's is pretty standard and essentially stops before the "Jimmy Stewart" kicks in -- the improv starts with Andy on bongos, alone. Until you slowly start to hear Jake jump in, following the rhythm/meter; then Kris on kick drum; then Ryan, and Brendan. Great way to start the jam -- much like with the rest of the run, everyone is patient. Has a bit of a "Se A Cabo" feel, not only because of the percussion. The jam turns a bit of a corner into something much more dance oriented. (Can't help but bob my head listening back.) The dance vibe continues until it turns into something bluesy, reminiscent of the Rolling Stones in a way -- only Umphrey's . . . Lots of runs by Joel on piano.

The "Stewart" fades away for the opening notes of Hajimemashite. The beauty of Haji is quickly disrupted by the appearance of the "Zsa Zsa Gabor" riff. And that ends the set . . .

Set Two:

The Triple Wide gets the set on the road . . . Since the run started off with a Moog Fest, one shouldn't be surprised with how many times Joel went to the Moog this run in the middle of jams. Some great spiraling guitar from Jake to match Joel's keys work. Nice example of a Triple Wide that doesn't rely on being overly dancey. Really smooth transition into "(Don't Fear) The Reaper," as they go back and forth between the song and Triple Wide. Again, patience. This happens a few times before they start singing. Then seamlessly back into The Triple Wide, with another "Reaper" tease for good measure. Before moving to The Floor -- just a perfect choice of song. It seems like so many fans talk about "flow" these days, and most of it I don't get to be honest. But to my ears, the beginning of this set has great "flow."

Pause. Breather. Jake handles some introductions as they kick into Miss Tinkle's Overture. As with a number of other songs from this run, the middle section opens up a bit. Joel on organ, and the guitarists playing off of each other. Really enjoyable, and not as heavy or standard as other Tinkle's you might hear.

Let me just say that Kula does not get played enough. Such a great drive to this song from every band member. Needs to pop up in setlists more often than it does now, that's for sure. This one slows down, to a little bit of drums, into something with a Push the Pig sort of vibe. Which actually becomes Waist Down -- interesting pairing. I haven't listened to this in some time; I kind of like the soaring nature of the chorus.

Waist Down ends with Kris f'n around with some e-drums. Until they successfully start The Fuzz. Gets a little funky. And then fades out . . . into Black Sabbath > War Pigs. Rock. (Voice crack, BB.) Bit of an anticlimactic way to send the set.

I have always been a sucker for The Fussy Dutchman. (I miss the days when it would segue into Tomorrow Never Knows, though.) Ryan is really clear on the recording. Not really a segue, Dutchman ends and Peeps begins. With "Reaper" teases in the intro.

Unique show. The Triple Reaper is worth listening to, and the Andy's "Stewart."

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Review by jwelsh, posted 17 October 2012 12:46 pm EDT, attached to 2008-10-14

Set One:

Starts off with White Man's Moccasins -- a bit unique on its own -- but then stops on a dime for the beautiful The Pequod -- only to go back into Moccasins. At the end of Moccasins, rather than pausing, Joel held a chord for a minute while the rest of the band noodled around him . . . before dropping into Plunger. The Plunger featured a "Jimmy Stewart" and was over fifteen minutes in length; the jam begins starting out with Jake playing a riff similar to Billy Squier's "Everybody Wants You" before building into a full-band improv with Joel all over piano. As the jam peters out, Jake starts to tease Yes's "Roundabout."

And how better to follow up a 15-minute Plunger than with a 28-minute Utopian Fir. The first jam in Fir starts with Pony repeating this riff, with Brendan soloing over top with a really compressed tone (right?). Then it grows to this great build over the course of four or so minutes, adding some organ to the mix, back to Brendan on that same solo. The music slows down after about seven minutes of the jam . . . and a drum solo appears. It is as short one what quickly evolves into some bleeps and a bit of chaos before Utopian Fir appears around 13 minutes after the start of the song. The "reggae portion" is drawn out patiently . . . until it starts to morph and stetch. The "Fir Reunion" section picks up, becomes more dubby, shifts keys and time signatures. Really great stuff, almost sounding like another song . . . until losing all resemblance of the standard reggae ending . . . then dropping back into the "re-worked" Reunion section. Only to reemerge as the standard Utopian Fir with lyrics to end the song.

The opening notes of In the Kitchen started almost immediately as Utopian ended, with a patient little intro. Kitchen quickly finds itself in this funky jam. Pony's bassline sounds like it could have been taken from Michael Jackson's "Thriller" (confirmation?).

Set Two:

Keeping with the rare openers, Padgett's Profile kicks off the second set in a dark and dirty fashion. Veers only slightly off course. The Bridgeless is pretty standard as well until it just slows down after about six minutes. Becoming quite airy, with Jake adding some playful riffs here and there, mixed with these little hints of metal songs . . . like "Masters of Puppets" and "One." And then Jake just starts playing Glory -- well, the intro, dropping out to silence, and then the whole band kicks in. Nice transition. And just as Bridgeless faded into Glory, the reverse was true as Glory slowly returns to Bridegeless. Neat little ending to Bridgeless, during that build -- Joel is really laying on the Moog as the guitarists trade licks back and forth.

After a breather, a "breather" of a song is started. I have always enjoyed the laid back, slinky start to Anchor Drops. A rather standard version is made humorous with the Matt Sorum (Guns N' Roses) Drum Fill to end. I am not sure if the GNR reference led them into Snake Juice, to be honest, but it worked -- I need to go back and look, but this might be the first appearance of Snake Juice as a stand-alone song. It flows into a nice breezy section with lots of Joel on piano with a slight Anchor Drops vibe in the background. A "Ring around the rosy" piece dissolves, still Joel on piano, but with the addition of e-drums. And then it fades into Rocker Part 2. Good little jam in the middle.

I so love Supertramp and Bloody Well Right. Joel nails the keys, imo, in that identifiable intro. His vocals? Not necessarily nailed, but close enough. The set-closing 40's Theme gets drawn out a bit when Rob Marscher joins Joel on keys -- as with a lot of the improv in this show, it is patient and breezy. Perfect, for me . . . Especially as Joel and Rob begin to play off each other (even Kris's e-drums here don't take away from the vibe). Although, I love Brendan's solo in 40's and this is often skipped when guests are brought out. Oh, well.

The Slacker encore works. More Moog from Joel during the slower middle section.

First set is worth a listen, for sure. And might as well skim through the second, with maybe some focus on Snake Juice.

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