moe. Welcomes Mike Dillon As Part Of Atrium Set Aboard Jam Cruise 18
Jam Cruise 18 continued on Friday aboard the MSC Divina with a port stop in Costa Maya, Mexico followed by plenty of music and merriment. The ship sailed into high winds just as OG Garage A Trois was hitting their stride leading to the closure of the Pool Deck for safety’s sake. Jam Cruise’s production team went into overdrive and rescheduled sets at other times and locations with great success. While a full report on highlights from Day Four will follow, here’s some thoughts on a moe. set that will stand as one of the most wild and unusual in the band’s 30-year-history:
moe. was scheduled to play a two-hour set on the Pool Deck. When it became clear the winds were so powerful that having the band perform on the Pool Deck would create an unsafe situation, the Jam Cruise team decided to move the five-piece’s set to the ship’s atrium. The atrium usually hosts more intimate performances that make use of the huge grand piano set up at the bottom of a crystal staircase that spans three floors. Within an hour, moe.’s gear was arranged in the atrium, and it’s ironic this situation happened to a band that doesn’t have a pianist, and Jam Cruisers made use of every inch of space on the stairways, in the lobby and on the parts of three floors that had views of the “stage.”
The group opened with the fitting “Water.” From the opening notes, moe. was on the top of their game and seemed really excited to be performing in this unconventional setting. Next up was “Crab Eyes” and at one point guitarists Al Schnier and Chuck Garvey stood on tables while bassist Rob Derhak lounged on a sofa. Yet for the most part the band was set up as close to each other as any gig they’ve played in years. It was a throwback to their early days at Buffalo’s Broadway Joe’s in that respect, with a setlist to match, but aboard a ship sailing from Mexico to Miami. After the “boom-boom-boom” of “Crab Eyes,” Schnier led the ska-infused golden oldie “Threw It All Away.” moe.’s harmonies were particularly spot on throughout “Threw It All Away” and the entire set, which is especially impressive given the setting.
A standout moment in a set chock full of them came with the classic “St. Augustine.” Garvey showed off his slide skills and the band patiently worked through every segment. moe. jammed the song hard to the delight of the audience that was literally surrounding them from all sides. It wouldn’t be Jam Cruise without a collaboration and moe. called on old pal Mike Dillon to join them for a few tunes. Up first was an instrumental before the now six-piece dug in on “Kyle’s Song.” Mike D. took a jaw-dropping vibraphone solo during “Kyle’s” that drew huge cheers from the crowd as his hands moved as fast as lightning.
moe. kept the old school fan favorites coming with the beloved pairing of “Seat Of My Pants” and “Sensory Deprivation Bank.” Chuck and Al absolutely tore up their solos in each and the band nailed the transition between the tunes. A huddle between Garvey, Derhak and Schnier was followed by Rob telling the crowd something to the effect of, “We’re going to play a song we struggle with every time we time we play it but what better setting than this to give it a go.” With that, the quintet went the Yacht Rock route for a cover of Rupert Holmes’ “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)” for just the fifth time ever and first since April 13, 2016. Rob was wrong as the band didn’t struggle this time around. Pina Coladas were flowing amongst fans as Derhak belted out the tune.
The five-piece closed out the set with a memorable and extremely expansive “Recreational Chemistry.” Garvey’s amp blew at one point, leading a frenzied crew – who had already been through a lot in a short of period of time – into action. They had a new amp up within minutes while percussionist Jim Loughlin soloed. By the time the song was through, all of moe. except drummer Vinnie Amico had taken a solo. There was also plenty of full-band jamming infused in “Rec Chem.” The band thanked their crew and the ship’s production team for all of their hard work to provide an experience Jam Cruisers will never forget.
Stay tuned for more on Day Four and a report on Day Five next week. In the meantime, follow JamBase’s Instagram for pics and videos from the final day of Jam Cruise 18.