Painting The Palace Purple: Umphrey’s McGee Honors Prince In St. Paul – Recap, Photos & Video

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Images by: Tim McGuire

Umphrey’s McGee celebrated Halloween on Saturday night with a second consecutive show at The Palace Theatre in St. Paul, Minnesota. Each member of the band was dressed up to represent a different era in the legendary career of late local hero Prince and The Purple One’s music was present throughout the two set show.

Dressed as Purple Rain-era Prince, guitarist Brendan Bayliss stood under a spotlight and recited, “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today, to get through this thing called life” as he kicked off the band’s debut cover of “Let’s Go Crazy.” The six Princes then got to work doing what they do best, opening up their “Bridgeless” into a jam showcasing their easy group interplay. They eventually dissolved into the opening notes of the instrumental “Blue Echo” which was cranked up into its “techno” arrangement that spread out into space rock territory.

UM came back into orbit with a hard charging “Rocker Part 2” loaded with Bayliss and guitarist Jake Cinninger’s classic rock riffs. Cinninger’s dexterity remained on display during “The Linear” with fluttery runs that took the jam from a mellow introduction through Kris Myers and Andy Farag’s percussive breakdown, to a soaring climatic peak. The improv quickly turned to the ending of the “Bridgeless” begun earlier in the set. The Purple Ones had one additional debut planned for the opening half, treating the well-costumed audience to a rocking rendition of “Raspberry Beret.”

Set two started with Ahmed Gallab from opening act Sinkane adding falsetto vocals to UM’s first-ever cover of Prince’s “I Wanna Be Your Lover.” A funky dance party broke out following Gallab’s exit which keyboardist Joel Cummins helped steer into a ambient soundscape reminiscent of “#5.” Cummins handed the keys to Cinninger for the start of “Ocean Billy” while lighting director Jefferson Waful’s synchronized patterns conspired to build frenzied tension and excitement in the room. The sextet got to work improvising a groovy, disco-y jam while incorporating elements of Michael Jackson’s “Wanna Be Startin Somethin.’” Waful then dropped a spotlight on Cinninger who signaled a return to the end of “Ocean Billy.”

The intro to “Utopian Fir” incorporated a verse of Prince’s “7” and the longtime favorite featured a typically exploratory portion of improvisation that saw Cinninger switch guitars while the jam ranged from swamp rock to hair metal. More huge guitar riffs were to come from the “Attachments” and “Mulche’s Odyssey” that filled out the second set, the latter including a dub reggae improv sequence. The last song of the set saw Cummins jump on a keytar for UM’s debut take on Prince’s “Little Red Corvette.” The encore featureed Cummins, Bayliss and Myers trading verses on The Purple One’s classic “1999,” marking the final debut and end of the celebratory evening.

Photographer Tim McGuire was in the Twin Cities Saturday night, view his gallery and watch professionally-shot video of “Let’s Go Crazy” and “I Wanna Be Your Lover” from last night’s TourGigs webcast below:

[Let’s Go Crazy]

[I Wanna Be Your Lover]

Setlist (via All Things Umphrey’s)

Set One: Let’s Go Crazy [1], Bridgeless > Blue Echo > Rocker Part 2, The Linear [2] > Bridgeless, Raspberry Beret [1]

Set Two: I Wanna Be Your Lover [3] > Ocean Billy [4], Utopian Fir > Attachments, Mulche’s Odyssey, Little Red Corvette [1]

Encore: 1999 [1]

Notes:

  • [1] debut, Prince
  • [2] with Driven to Tears (The Police) and Tom Sawyer (Rush) teases
  • [3] debut, Prince; with Ahmed Gallab on vocals; with #5 jam
  • [4] with Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ (Michael Jackson) jam
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