Live releases use to serve as a way of sharing the concert experience with fans, a special treat, a snapshot of a special performance. But in this day and age of the Live Music Archive and the instant downloading of shows minutes after they end, the live release has lost some of its luster. Many now serve only for those hardcore completists who must have every note their favorite band has ever played, or for the casual fan unfamiliar with a band, looking to get a sampling.
Umphrey’s McGee’s new live release recorded over Easter weekend this year at the Murat in Indianapolis, IN, is a stunning document of a band at the top of their live powers. Culling the best of both nights into a cohesive two disc release, it’s a live album that can appeal to both the hardcore fan and the curious “newbie.”
The album opens with arguably the band’s most accessible song, “In The Kitchen.” Beginning acoustically, it quickly dissolves into an adventurous detour that finds the band ditching their acoustic instruments and picking up electric ones, continuing their journey into the sonic nether-regions. Just when you think they will never find their way back, they seamlessly drop back into “In The Kitchen” and wrap it up with a full-on electric version.
And therein lays the genius of Umphrey’s McGee, their ability to take great sounding songs, and turn them into live monsters full of maniacal twists and diabolical turns that strain the imagination. Live at the Murat is full of these moments. They are the moments that keep the hardcore fan coming back, and start the curious fan listening.
Live at the Murat is out now on SCI Fidelity Records.