Author: Jason Turngren

Come Together and Read Another London Sessions Review

By Jason Turngren

When Umphrey’s McGee announced that they had a new album coming out only ten months after their most recent studio release, Similar Skin, naturally fans grew anxious and excited for it’s release. Learning that the album was recorded in one day at Abbey Road Studios was the icing on the proverbial cake.To top that off, the track listing is absolutely mind blowing, the perfect selection of tunes for the task.

The London Sessions kicks off with ‘Bad Friday,’ a track which made it’s debut on New Years Eve 2013 at the Fillmore in Denver, CO and has quickly became a crowd favorite. With stunning guitar work intertwining the mesmerizing vocal harmonies this track seemed perfect for Abbey Road Studios.

“Rocker Part 2” has been in Umphrey’s McGee’s live rotation since New Years Eve of 2007 at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago, but this is the first time their live classic has received any studio treatment. The heavy prog-rock feel at the front end of the song is sure to bring memories flooding back from live performances attended over the years. Listening to “Rocker Part 2” alone in the comfort of your own home, it’s tempting to throw your arms in the air after Jake’s sensational guitar solo leading into Chris’ drum break down mid track.

After  being released on their most recent studio album ‘Similar Skin,’ it was  interesting to see how they would alter ‘No Diablo’ for ‘The London Sessions.’ Listening to both versions of ‘No Diablo’ back to back it’s safe to say they “took it a little easy” in Abbey Road Studios. The new version has more of an acoustic vibe that softens the instrumentation and really magnifies the lyrics to help bring out the vocal harmonies that ‘Similar Skin’ didn’t capture as strongly.

‘Cut The Cable’ is another song that was featured on the previous Umphrey’s studio album which Umphrey’s took a little slower this time around. Having originally been a semi-bluegrassy tune, it was a bit jarring to hear the prog-rock version ‘Similar Skin’ had brought us. Abbey Road seems to of had been the perfect place to slow it down a bit and bring us back to the familiar acoustic version we were introduced to years ago with 30db.

To call “Glory” a crowd favorite would be a massive understatement. Having been played over 250 times since 2002, it’s only release has been off of the now out of print ‘Local Band Does OKlahoma’ live release from 2003. Joel’s piano intro is guaranteed to send shivers down your spine as excitement fills your eyes. Abbey Road set the space necessary for this song to breathe. It’s hard to think of any other studio doing ‘Glory’ justice the way Abbey Road has.

“Plunger” is a track you might have to throw a good pair of headphones on in order to find a difference between this release and it’s debut on Umphrey’s McGee’s third studio album ‘Anchor Drops.’ Besides having a brighter sound and clearer direction, the addition of “Plunger” is an amazing throwback to their earlier studio release

After making its live debut in 2012, “Comma Later” found a nice fit on ‘The London Sessions.’ With a Steely Dan like jazz feel to it, this track flows with the same intensity as it does in the live setting. Good headphones are highly recommended for enjoying this song to it’s fullest extent, with eyes closed it feels as though each instrument and vocal track is happening all around the room.

“Eat” was introduced into Umphrey’s live rotation in 2006 and was placed on their 2007 ‘Live At The Murat’ album. The heavy metal beginning gets you groovin’ and going, with Jake professing his love for eating something sweet, it is in fact such a treat. What has generally been known as purely an instrumental track these lyrics seem to be improvised. Whether they were or not, it was a welcome surprise to those not expecting to hear Jakes metal voice.

A trip to Abbey Road Studios wouldn’t be complete without peppering in a Beatles Cover. ‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy)’ is one of the Fab Four’s heavier songs that fit in well with the vibe of the album. It is also a song Umphrey’s has managed to master performing live over the last nine years. Sounding exactly like the way the Beatles intended it, Umphrey’s McGee found a way to make it their own without sacrificing the integrity of the original recording.

With old and new tracks, new renditions of previously recorded tunes, along with a cover, ‘The London Sessions’ is an album that covers a wide variety of what Umphrey’s McGee is. Forever changing, altering and bringing something new to their fans. This might be Umphrey’s most diverse album yet in that respect. Coming off almost as a live set of music this album shows us many variations of old and new favorites along with a cover, what more could us Umphreak’s ask for? ‘The London Sessions’ truly is a masterpiece and to have an albums worth of songs in one recording session proves these guys are a powerhouse capable of just about anything.

Rage, Rest, Ryman

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By Jason Turngren

Usually the concerts held at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium are more on the tranquil side of the live music spectrum. The Umphrey’s crowd, on the other hand, isn’t as relaxed as the Ryman staff may be accustomed to. With that being said, it is quite astonishing to see a sold out rock show tear up the Ryman. Having the seating arrangements located in church pews, there isn’t really any room to stand up and dance, but that doesn’t slow down Umprhey’s fans. Naturally, the benefit of assigned seating is that you can grab as many beers as you want without having to fight through the crowd to get back to where you want to be. The best part of this venue, other than the amazing acoustics, is that there really isn’t a bad seat in the house.

This being Umphrey’s second time at the Ryman, and first time they sold the venue out, we knew it would be a special evening. Seeing as how the band played Anchor Drops in its entirety the night before, none of us really knew what to expect. Excluding all those tracks, it gave the opportunity for the boys to perform a great deal of tracks from Safety In Numbers. This seemed appropriate for a venue like the Ryman.

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Having had front row seats, it was incredible to turn around when the lights dimmed and watch the crowd erupt with excitement. The band took to the stage, and the show took off. The strength of the first set wouldn’t have been complete without their cover of The Beatles’ “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).” After the opening verse, the band went silent, and the crowd blew up. The acoustics don’t only compliment the artists, they also magnify the crowds energy quite nicely.

After a short set break, the guys came back out with a stellar second set. From “Believe The Lie” all the way to “Nothing Too Fancy,” there was only one break in the music. That break came after a quite impressive cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir.” The “Milestones” tease complimented “Intentions Clear,” and the “Stranglehold” jam in “Nothing Too Fancy” was truly quite fancy. They then closed out the show with an amazing “Jimmy Stewart” infused “All In Time.”

We all know the high pressure decision to either go for a fist bump or the classic high five. Well, in this case, I got both a fist bump and a high five from Brendan Bayliss as the guys left the stage. As we were leaving the venue, everyone was chatting about their favorite song selections of the night and what shows they were going to next. The masses were truly riding that post-show high that only comes at an Umphrey’s show.

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Set 1: Catshot > Mullet (Over), Educated Guess, Puppet String, Alex’s House > Snake Juice > I Want You (She’s So Heavy), Eat, Rocker, Rocker Part 2

Set 2: Believe the Lie, Booth Love > Nothing Too Fancy > Women Wine and Song > Den > Kashmir, Intentions Clear[1] > Glory[2] > Nothing Too Fancy[3]

Encore: All In Time[4]

[1] with Milestones (Miles Davis) teases

[2] with Simple Gifts (trad.) teases in intro

[3] with Stranglehold (Ted Nugent) jam

[4] “Jimmy Stewart” with lyrics

On This Day In Umphrey’s History (02/06)

02.06.2002 COPPER DRAGON BREWING COMPANY, CARBONDALE, IL, USA

Set 1: Get In The Van, The Haunt -> Out Of Order, Q*Bert > Sociable Jimmy, Good Ol’ Boys, Blue Echo, Walk the Proud Land, Mullet (Over), Push the Pig, YYZ[1]

Set 2: Dump City, Anchor Drops, Soul Food I > Moogasauras Rex[2] > Pooh Doggie[3] -> Make Me, Gesture Under a Mitten, Last Man Swerving > Water > Last Man Swerving, The Triple Wide, Professor Wormbog

Encore: Pay the Snucka[4]

[1] with Spirit of the Radio (RUSH​) ending
[2] debut, original; Joel, Jake, and Andy on “electronica”
[3] debut, original; vocal jam over groove
[4] with In My Time of Dying (Led Zeppelin), Pooh Doggie, and extended Ain’t Talkin About Love (Van Halen​) teases

UMlive: N/A
Archive: https://archive.org/details/um2002-02-06.shnf

Most Recent Setlist

Most Recent Setlist

02/05/15 Track 29 Chattanooga, TN

Set I: Plunger> Anchor Drops, In The Kitchen, Bullhead City* Miss Tinkles Overture, Uncommon, Jajunk> Barracuda*

Set II: 13 Days> Jajunk, Walletsworth, Robot World> Mulches Odyssey, Wife Soup, Pequod> The Triple Wide> Cut The Cabe

Encore: Breathe

*With Jen Hartswick on vocals

Curious as to how those tracks sounded live for the first time?

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/covers-anonymous-episode-3/id857879215?i=334900004&mt=2

Most Recent Setlist

Most Recent Setlist… *They couldn’t remember HBB

02/04/15 Track 29​ Chattanooga, TN

Set I: Andy’s Last Beer, Uncle Wally> White Man’s Moccasins, Words, We’re Going To War> Bright Lights, Big City, Fussy Dutchman, The Floor

Set II: 1348> The Bottom Half, Rosanna, Tribute to the Spinal Shaft> 1348, Nemo> Night Nurse> Nemo, Linear> Go to Hell

Encore: Making Flippy Floppy

National Wear Red Day

Friday is national ‪#‎WearRedDay‬ and seeing as how Nashville will be dressed in red on Friday to raise awareness of heart disease I’ll put a price on a cover request… Umphreak’s Anonymous will donate $50 to the American Heart Association. if King Crimson‘s Red is played Friday night at the Ryman Auditorium!

We’ll need all you Umphreaks to tweet the boys with this request, post on their FB wall, etc, to see if we can get them to go along with it. We’ll see if we can get other fans onboard with the donation as well! ‪#‎NashGoRed‬

For more information http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/