Umphrey’s McGee is a jam band, which means they’re great to see live.
At Rothbury this year, they played a great cover of “Comfortably Numb” (YouTube). They have a reputation for playing good covers, particularly Floyd. So I was stoked when a buddy of mine told me about the upcoming show at Michigan Theater on October 2. I got tickets, and it got me thinking about their repertoire of covers. How varied? Eclectic? Well executed? Lucky for you and me, they let people tape their shows, and they let those tapers post their recordings to the Internet Music Archive.
So I asked the GLONO research department to review all the 2009 shows, compiling all the covers they’ve played this year. We might have missed a few, but it’s still one helluva list. Pink Floyd, Talking Heads, Zeppelin, Blind Faith, Black Sabbath, Rolling Stones, John Coltrane, and Michael Jackson. Even the f’n “Safety Dance.” That’s right. Safety Dance. By Men Without Hats. I shit you not.
Here’s a list of my favorites:
“Shine On You Crazy Diamond” is remarkably on point in relation to the original. Just tremendous. Around 2:45 in, there’s an exact enough replica of a David Gilmour lick, unleashed at the right time, that the audience all cheers when it kicks in, in appreciation of the awesomeness of it. Why live music is the best.
On point cover, great exploration in the middle. The crowd goes nuts for this one, and they know all the lyrics. They play this one a lot for encores.
Fool in the Rain!? Great Zep tune, hits right vocal approach about half way through. Stellar effort by the band. They emphasize the reggae flavor of the song. A good approach.
A great Stones song which, for me at least, has forever been enshrined as a cocaine anthem due to its placement in the movie Casino. But that could just be me. In any event, great scene. And a great cover.
One of my favorite Who songs. They do a couple of other Who covers, too (“Baba O’Riley” comes to mind).
There are a lot more, and I’m sure their cover catalog gets deeper as you move through their archive of shows. In fact, if you find another one you think is worth listening to, please let us know. They’ve also covered “Can’t Find My Way Home” by Blind Faith, “A Love Supreme” by John Coltrane, “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson, and “Black Sabbath” (the song) into “War Pigs”. And again, this is just 2009.
So I’ll just put this out there, in case anyone connected to Umphrey’s McGee reads this. I’m hoping for a rocking “Making Flippy Floppy” and/or “Fool in the Rain” in Ann Arbor. Like I said, just putting it out there… Will report back after the show.