FRIDAY AFTERNOON IN THE UNIVERSE
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– SHACK THOUGHTS –
FRIDAY AFTERNOON IN THE UNIVERSE (FAITU#58)
“Sportin’ the new MMW logo hat, John Medeski!”
This is a great 2hr set that captures MMW nicely from this point in late 2010 at a super fun and intimate venue in the groovy city of Portland in the state of Maine, next to my province … I hit the band’s first performance at this place the previous year and was sorely disappointed to miss this 2010 gig, but thankfully the sounds were wonderfully captured — THANKS, Todd!
We get a slow building Intro to start things off that allows Baby Goats to bubble into our ears — love this groove! AKA “New ’07”, because MMW introduced the tune in the spring of 2007, the song actually seems to originate from some side-project gigs John played in the summer of 2006 under the moniker Medeski & The Itch (Eric Krasno & Adam Deitch!), so check those gigs out if you can find ’em … the tune is also found on the 2008 released Will Bernard album, Blue Plate Special, that Medeski played on (it actually opens the album, and a cover of Gonzo is also found on there). MMW played around with Baby Goats in both electric and acoustic settings, with the tune focusing on its groove or expanding out more, depending on their inclination on a given night.
The Radiolarians 2 tune, Dollar Pants, is up next which has always sounded odd to me — in a good way! The melody from John coupled with the accompanying rhythm from Martin & Wood just sounds like it almost doesn’t work for me, but yet it does … I wanna bop my head, but it’s an odd bop … just a wacky groove to this one that always sounds sharp against the songs surrounding it … this boils down to Medeski on piano which leads into the piano intro for Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down, an old spiritual/traditional tune you can find covered by Bob Dylan, Robert Plant, and many others. For MMW, SYKMCD begins with John exploring the fringes of the melody before he starts up the saloon-sounding romp with Billy and Chris jumping in, illyB keeping the shuffle simple with some cymbal accents, and Wood driving the whole sound with that SLIDE BASS! DAMN! (They played this tune the year before in Portland as well, and I was standing dead centre in front of Chris while he wailed that slide bass part — MAN!)
For many/most 2008 performance SYKMCD (from Radiolarians 3) was followed by the MMW original, Satan Pt.II (aka “Satan’s Little Helper”), which was a real nice dark groove released as a bonus track in the Radiolarians boxed set; here we have the song followed by a wonderful groove, not so dark, and it ain’t the MMW Satanic original. Nonetheless, this Improv is hot and tightly constructed.
Next up is Chantes Des Femmes, another R3 tune, the song that most often preceded and led into SYKMCD over 2008-09, but is now following Satan … this is a beautiful groove with John making that piano sing for the women … this version is nicely stretched through a patient execution …
Bass Solo time, lots of terrible chatter in the room at this point — LISTEN UP, FOLKS! Wood is playing his SOUL up there! Why do these talkers come … it just always seemed like a lot of money to come and talk … LISTEN! But I digress … it’s a pretty melodic solo from Chris, working sweetly into the tune it was working towards, Padrecito (Radiolarians 2 creation). I’ve no idea if this is related, but “Padrecito” is Spanish for “old man”, and this tune does have a slightly older-jazz feel to it, standard piano trio-like-feel, albeit tinged with MMW’s approach and creativity. This version is tightly compact — some versions expanded a fair bit more, but this performance is perfect for the room … gotta get back to some funky vibes for this restless crowd!
And the crowd howls as John moves over to that murky keyboard and brings in the clavinet, and we are grooving BIG TIME! A good tune to get folks pumping, this heavy groove found on The Dropper album always sounds good to my ears. And this begins a high energy run of tunes with Big Time’s wacky ending slamming into the Night Marchers’ AWESOME bass and groove and the band tears up this classic Shack-man track, followed by another Radiolarians 3 song, Wonton, which is a super nice mood enhancer …
The following 25min are arguably the highlight of the show. Billy invites Mike Rivard on stage — if you don’t know Rivard, get with it! HA! He is the leader and heart of the band Club d’Elf, and if you haven’t heard them, well, I dunno, you just better check them out RIGHT NOW, or after you listen to this gig. TONS of d’Elf on the Live Music Archive
The first tune Rivard adds his sintir sounds to is Zeed al Maal, a Club d’Elf song, and this quartet just rips this tune up in such a good way! Rivard and Wood’s interplay is marvelous, Billy holds the groove down throughout, and John goes WILD on some various keys … mixing it up with the melodica and the organ, so good! This tune is incredible and I wish the trio would have kept it in rotation … or that Rivard would come sit in more often!
Rivard remains on stage and the quartet launch into the Unvisible fun of Pappy Check — WOO! This tune always gets me moving and shaking, and Rivard fits in perfectly here as the jam unfolds over the tune and he finds his pockets of sound … damn, that sintir sound is so great with the trio …
Undone closes the show, yet another Radiolarians 3 tune. I find this song incredibly cathartic — it just builds and explodes in such fantastic release. The feel of the song almost reminds me of some 70s or 80s rock anthem or something, but WAY cooler with the sounds the trio emits — it crashes to explosion!
Some intros from illyB (see my opening comment above), and then we get a treat with the Mago tune, Mojet — from the duo album Medeski & Martin released in 2007 shortly after Chris started hanging with his biological brother a lot more … they may have given this treat as a bit of a warm up for the next night’s performance of the song with horns in Boston, but regardless the reason, it’s a great tune for the trio! But check out that Mago album too if you haven’t … wow.
Portland, ME is where I first caught MMW live, so it has a soft spot in my ears, but honestly, the band always tears it up when they hit that town … good Maine vibes you can enjoy on this beautiful spring Friday Afternoon In The Universe …
enjoy the grooves,
THE SHACK STREAM
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