Words & Images by: Jarrod Dicker
moe. :: 01.22.10 :: Roseland Ballroom :: New York, NY
"Thank you, NYC, and welcome to the show," Rob Derhak announced while smiling after the conclusion of moe.'s second selection of the evening, "Bearsong."
"We are extremely pumped to be here, thank you all for coming and supporting WHY [World Hunger Year]," continued Derhak. "We have a lot of guests coming out tonight and a lot of fun in store. We're here to have a good time, but the cause is what it's all about. So, even though we're all enjoying ourselves up onstage and you're all dancin' in the crowd, just know that the money that's spent on this show will be feeding a lot of people."
Cheers filled the Roseland Ballroom on what was truly an evening to remember. moe.'s New York City homecoming served somewhat as a "jam band prom" for all ye' faithful in attendance, attracting fans and performers from all over the musical spectrum.
Publicized as a WHY benefit performance, the band announced on their website that the charitable contributions would be allocated accordingly to assist Haiti after the devastating earthquake that shocked that country on January 12.
The crowd eagerly awaited the Buffalo natives to hit the stage, as well as anticipating the much-publicized guests that were scheduled to appear on the benefit's bill. The evening's ensemble consisted of Butch Trucks (Allman Brothers), Jeff Austin (Yonder Mountain String Band), saxophonist David Sanborn, Marco Benevento, Danny Barnes (Bad Livers) and, of course, Rob, Chuck, Al, Jim and Vinnie.
The evening, which marked the kick off of moe.'s 20th anniversary tour, began with Headseed favorite "Timmy Tucker," performed with extreme velocity. The crowd took well to the familiar introductory track, and further applauded the in-depth jam session that inevitably followed.
|Danny Barnes w/ moe. :: 01.22 :: Roseland Ballroom|
"Tucker" fed into "Bearsong," which exhibited yet another unbelievable shred session, highlighting what makes moe. moe. - the high peak and plateau riding grooves that give up little if any energy throughout.
The band then welcomed their first two guests of the night, Danny Barnes on banjo and Marco Benevento on keys, for the infamous moe. tune "Captain America," followed by Barnes' "Caveman," where Jeff Austin came out to contribute mandolin.
There was talk leading up the show that the presence of all these different players onstage together might produce a confusing, jumbled mess since the entire group as a whole have never all played with one another simultaneously. As soon as "Captain America" and "Cavemen" were played, all those concerns went right out the door.
"Nebraska" was next up in the first set, followed by "Happy Hour Hero." moe. invited David Sanborn and Butch Trucks up to assist on "Hero," hinting with Trucks' presence at some classic Allman tunes to come. Sanborn's saxophone mirrored the drum and guitar lines throughout "Hero," creating a fresh – and possibly better - version than the original with the beautiful saxophone infusion.
|Jeff Austin w/ moe. :: 01.22 :: Roseland Ballroom|
At the conclusion of "Hero," Derhak grabbed the mic and said, "We got a singer? Yes." The bass line started and Jeff Austin took hold of the microphone. The Allman Brothers' "Whipping Post" ensued, creating absolute musical mayhem (in a good way). It is hard for guitarists (even Al and Chuck) to mimic the hammering of Duane and Dickey, and even Warren and Derek. However, the band adopted the song rather well in terms of providing a complimentary and thorough version of the gem.
Returning from set break, the group (accompanied by Benevento and Trucks) went right into Dickey Betts' "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed." Marco on keys was unbelievable throughout, venturing beyond back beats to engage with the wide variety of musicians onstage.
"Shoot First" came and went, followed by "Waiting for the Punchline." During "Waiting," Al adjusted the verse to compliment his new 'supergroup' bandmates: "Jeff Austin told me about the likes of you." A hoedown jam arrived after the verses, and Rob yelled, "Jeff Austin and Danny Barnes, everybody - separated at birth!" The fusion of moe., Barnes and Austin was unbelievable, especially during this track, which fit the musicians' instruments rather well.
After "Waiting," Al said, "Mr. Marco, everybody. It's our pleasure to get to play with Marco finally, and we get to do it with style. We're going to play one of Marco's songs now. He made a really cool video for this song that you can see on YouTube. It's called 'The Real Morning Party' and it's awesome!"
|moe. :: 01.22 :: Roseland Ballroom|
"The Real Morning Party" was followed by "Shake Your Hips." Then, Austin grabbed the mic again, "So, I gotta say something. When I was first riding around playing music I met the moe. guys and they were just so nice to me. That was ten years ago and they're still so great to me now. It's just a pleasure to be playing with these guys. They're just the best. So, give it up for this great band we got up here! And they wanted to learn one of my songs so we'll play it right now."
Austin offered lead vocals on moe.'s cover of Yonder's "East Nashville Easter." Benevento remained with the group through "Blue Jeans Pizza," and then Butch came back out for the set closing "Mexico."
All guests stepped back on the stage and assembled for the grand finale of this outrageous and unbelievable event. The guitar began, and it took the crowd less than two seconds to figure out the encore. It seemed fitting at this special event that the group closed with one from The Last Waltz. "The Weight" was performed exceptionally well, rotating vocals between members of moe., Austin and Barnes.
"Thank you very much NYC," Rob graciously pronounced at the end of "The Weight." "Have a great night everybody. Thank you for coming out. Let's give a hand for the WHY Band, Marco Benevento on keyboards, Danny Barnes on banjo, Jeff Austin on mandolin and vocals, Mr. Butch Trucks on drums, Mr. David Sanborn, and the rest of you guys for making this all possible. Give yourselves a hand. Have a great night. We'll see y'all tomorrow night."
moe. :: 01.22.10 :: Roseland Ballroom :: New York, NY
Set I: Timmy Tucker > Bearsong, Captain America, Caveman, Nebraska, Happy Hour Hero, Whipping Post
Set II: In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed, Shoot First, Waiting For The Punchline, The Real Morning Party, Shake Your Hips, East Nashville Easter, Blue Jeans Pizza, Mexico
E: The Weight
moe. is on tour now; dates available here.
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