April 23, 2011
No band is more representative of the Front Range music scene than The Motet.Â Their mountainous sound is only dwarfed by their appreciation for genres ranging from afrobeat, funk, salsa, house and soul. They have coexisted alongside String Cheese Incident, Leftover Salmon, and Yonder Mountain. Furthermore, they have spawned new groups like Big Gigantic, Juno What?! and Magic Gravy.
For many years they have treated their home town fans to magical Halloween musical costume shows wherein the outfit picks an artist, studies their music and orchestrates a superb tribute. The yearly selections have included Stevie Wonder, Sly and the Family Stone, Earth, Wind & Fire, The Talking Heads, Prince and Jamiroquai amongst others.Â Â So when they began putting together a list of songs from each of the celebrations for a “Best of Halloween” show a new Front Range tradition was born.
The second night of a two night sold out affair; Saturday was the “Best of Halloween” show.Â Anticipation was high and before the show, the party lined the streets of the Hill.Â It was Easter weekend, and The Motet hit the stage completely resurrected and full of sound.
Sly Stone’s “Crossword Puzzle” started things off and immediately showed the soulfulness of Jans Ingber’s being. Supremely talented vocalist, percussionist and exuberant demeanor make him a truly fabulous front man. Two lovely ladies flanked Ingberg, both of whom nailed it all night with their vocal supplementation. Collectively, the three managed to orchestrate a great dance party as the band’s big sound kept things moving with two Off The Wall King of Pop originals “Burn This Disco Out” on down the line to the last note of Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ’til You Get Enough.”
Stopping just short of making this review read more like a fairytale, it can safely be stated that the ensemble’s rendition Jamiroquai’s “Canned Heat” was a plateful of ear-ecstasy that seemed to drip from the ceiling like condensation from a swamp cooler. The crowd seemed to move in a unified frenzy though it is unclear if the perpetual motion was due to the unity of the crowd or the necessity to move simultaneously in order to move at all thru the packed house.
With Garrett Sayers and Dave Watts leading what might be one of the most entertaining rhythm sections, The Motet could go full on afrobeat for the night with the same ease that it could gear up and rave. The groove they provide felt so natural and organic that the complexity of their effort was downplayed. This night also welcomed percussionist Scott Messersmith back in the fold and his addition only added to the driving force that was omnipresent throughout the performance.
A soul-soaked rendition of Earth, Wind and Fire’s “Mighty, Mighty” closed the set with the large band completely in sync that created the conflict of “Do I just stop and admire the talent?” or simply continue to dance my ass off. The latter being the obvious winner as any good fan of The Motet would know.
After set break things got started with the Stevie Wonder inspired “We Can Work It Out,” relative newcomer to the rotation, Joey Porter, spiced things up with some fresh hand jive on the ivory, escalating things rather quickly with some funk filled leads from behind the keys. The full horn section, guitarist Ryan Jalbert playing lights out lead and Porter crushing the keys, the band motored thru a massive take on Tower of Power’s “Drop it in the Slot,” providing a definitive highlight of the evening as the waves of sound crashed over the crowd like energetic waves. Favoring the big sound of Tower of Power, I was delighted when they later offered up a monstrous “What is Hip.”
If there was a play by play you would know there was a heavy dose of Prince in the mix, some Talking Heads and The Beatles to boot. However in a desire to leave some suspense in the air, it would simply be better to inform that regardless of what The Motet chose and choose cover, they did and do it in a way that is their own without sacrificing the original flavor created by their predecessors.