Mike Gordon at the Boulder Theater, 3-14-14 (review)By Jason Blevins | March 17th, 2014 | No Comments »
Side projects are hobbies. Downtime diversions.
Well known for anchoring the deep end of Phish for the last 30 years, Gordonâ€™s solo work is often billed a side project. But Friday night, Gordon prodded his cohorts â€“ Max Creek guitar king Scott Murawski, percussionist Craig Myers, drummer Todd Isler and keyman Tom Cleary â€“ into realms well beyond the casual jam amongst pals. With several songs featuring multiple bridges gapping sudden tempo shifts, the band displayed a technical prowess usually seen after decades of collaboration.
See photos of Mike Gordon’s 2010 stop at the Fox Theatre below:
Caroming between classic rock, reggae, calypso, pop, folk and ambient dance tunes, Gordonâ€™s crew displayed the nimble prowess of a venerable band, accustomed to lock-stepped meandering and screaming crescendos. Gordon and Murawski are a mighty duo, with the latterâ€™s laid-back, unpretentious style opening doors for Gordonâ€™s booming riffs.
Gordonâ€™s reggae-tinged â€śYarmouth Road,â€ť which has found footing in recent Phish shows melded well with Murawskiâ€™s Little Feat-esque â€śWillow Tree.â€ť The rare â€śSpockâ€™s Brain,â€ť which has been absent from Phishâ€™s rotation for more than a decade, was a boisterous adventure, with Islerâ€™s hammering on the crash cymbal supporting the explosive tune.
The sold-out Boulder Theater was draped in both an aural and visual tapestry thanks to a simple yet compelling light show. Offset, backlit panels behind the musicians created an earthy tone and an intimate space. Murawskiâ€™s and Gordonâ€™s guitars glowed in one of the coolest light displays ever, bouncing with the rhythm. The olfactory hues were obviously green, considering this was Boulder.
The sensory overload was augmented by the diversity of the tunes. Gordonâ€™s latest album â€śOverstepâ€ť â€“ his fourth solo studio effort â€“ is a wild ride lacking a central, unifying theme, unlike his previous efforts, where often overly-wrought songs began to blur into each other.
The ethereal, ambient â€śEtherâ€ť in the second set was so utterly different than the shape-shifting, acoustic-to-electric â€śDifferent Worldâ€ť it followed. The Malian â€śAngattaâ€ť â€“ from Myersâ€™ Vermont-based band Barika â€“ saw the percussionist culling psychedelic waves from his kamel n’goni. Clearyâ€™s â€śPretty Boy Floydâ€ť revealed a fun interplay between Meyersâ€™ electrifying stringed gourd and Murawskiâ€™s guitar.
Murawski, whose subtle, sublime touch makes him a perfect fit with Gordonâ€™s leading bass riffs, opted for David Byrne over Phish frontman Trey Anastasio for â€śCities,â€ť playing the big-jacketed sideways vibe over Anastasioâ€™s apex-hunting, anthemic approach.
Like 40-year-old Max Creek and the latest iteration of Phish â€“ known as Phish 2.0 â€“ the emphasis is group interplay over one rock star. Itâ€™s a cooperative approach that elevates all over one, and creates a larger, fuller sound. That sound rang true Friday night, with Gordon more in a supportive role, urging his colleagues into grander designs.
Mike Gordon setlist:
Set 1: Dig Further Down, Yarmouth Road, Willow Tree, Angatta, Spockâ€™s Brain, Pretty Boy Floyd, Long Black Line, Rhymes, Face
Set 2: Different World, Ether, Meat, Another Door, Peel, Hap-Nappy, Mrs. Peel, Say Something, Cities, Tiny Little World
E: Barton Hollow
Jason BlevinsÂ is a strange dancer, but that has never stopped him.