The ascension continues for Chicago's Umphrey's McGee, not only in terms of their commercial success but in creative accomplishment and instrumental achievement as well. Their performance on Live at the Murat (SCI Fidelity), their first official live release, is as impressive as anything they've recorded to date, with the power and finesse, the yin and the yang, that have come to characterize their by-now classic material.
Recorded in Indianapolis in April 2007 and produced by longtime "sound caresser" / honorary seventh member Kevin Browning, the two-disc set features fan favorites like "Push the Pig," "The Triple Wide," "In the Kitchen," and "Nothing Too Fancy" along with rare tunes like the set-ending "Padgett's Profile" and the brief but torrid "Angular Momentum," centered on the combo of drummer Kris Myers and guitarist Jake Cinninger. The band also dusts off tunes like "Hajimemashite" from '98s Songs for Older Women, and the Yes meets Little Feat-influenced "40's Theme," a live favorite for the band and its fans.
Throughout the show, UM's invention brings the progressive instrumental chops of Zappa and the stylistic savvy of Steely Dan. It is innovative without being indulgent, exhilarating without losing control, and there are plenty of improv passages that keep the band and their fans off-balance. Clearly, logging 120 gigs a year, "live" is where UM lives.
The current list of confirmed tour dates is as follows:
September 13 Orpheum Theatre Madison WI
September 14 Canopy Club Urbana IL
September 15 Taft Theatre Cincinnati OH
October 04 Liberty Hall Lawrence KS
October 05 Granada Theater Dallas TX
October 06 Stubb's BBQ Austin TX
October 14 The Echo Project Fairburn GA
October 16 Toad's Place - Lady Byrd Hat Building Richmond VA
October 17 Nightclub 9:30 Washington DC
October 18 Magic City Music Hall Johnson City NY
October 19-20 Nokia Theater Times Square New York NY
October 22 Harro East Ballroom Rochester NY
October 24-25 Higher Ground Ballroom Burlington VT
October 26 Orpheum Theatre Boston MA
October 27 House of Blues Las Vegas NV
October 28 Vegoose Las Vegas NV
October 31 Fillmore Auditorium Denver CO
November 15 Amos' South End Charlotte NC
November 16 City Hall Nashville TN
November 17 Work Play Soundstage Birmingham AL
November 18 Bear Creek Music Festival Quincy FL
November 29 Orbit Room Grand Rapids MI
December 01 Michigan Theatre Ann Arbor MI
December 13-17 Caribbean Holidaze Runaway Jamaica
December 29-31 The Aragon Ballroom Chicago IL
March 16-18 Jam in the Dam Amsterdam Netherlands
More dates to be announced.
Live at the Murat is the latest feather in the cap of the dazzling sextet. They followed their highly touted spring 2006 studio release Safety In Numbers with the magical odds and sods The Bottom Half in the spring of this year. The album, with its outtakes, alternate versions, and other nifty bits, reached #26 on Billboard's coveted "Heatseakers" Chart and received high marks from the music press. HARP magazine recently noted "…[The Bottom Half delivers] creamy studio work infused by diabolical skill." Also in 2006, Umphrey's McGee sold out shows in theaters coast to coast, appeared at Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo, and made their late night TV debut on ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live." Booked by the Monterey Peninsula Booking Agency, the band recently sold out three nights at Chicago's Aragon Ballroom, two nights at Irving Plaza, San Francisco's Fillmore Auditorium, and the list goes on, as does Umphrey's McGee.