Spafford Opens With 3-Song Set In Cleveland: Full Show Audio


Spafford wasted little time digging into deep improvisation last night at the Agora Ballroom in Cleveland. The quartet opened with two songs that each spanned over 26 minutes and only played a total of nine tunes throughout the night.

Keyboardist Andrew “Red” Johnson lived out a dream by proclaiming “Hello, Cleveland,” ala This Is Spinal Tap at the start of the night. The Arizona-based band then lit into the original “Funkadelic.” Spafford explored a rock theme at first on which guitarist Brian Moss led his mates to a massive peak. Johnson fronted the second segment of the “Funkadelic” jam. This time, the group connected on a powerful riff they built to a second climax. The last portion of the opener was an untz-y improv that eventually gave way to “Walls.”

“Walls” was the longest song of the night at nearly 29 minutes. Spafford worked over a reggae-funk groove at a medium pace until Moss threw in a soaring lead that signaled the start of a shredfest. The second portion of “Walls” featured impressive interplay between Red and Brian as drummer Cameron LaForest and bassist Jordan Fairless held down the bottom end. Spafford then hit upon a samba groove, as they continued to display various sides of their improvisational prowess. After toying with tempos, Moss brought “Walls” to a close with his most powerful riffing yet. Spafford followed the hour-long jam session with the straightforward rocker “Eternity.”

Last night’s second set wasn’t exactly light on the improvisation. A long and drawn-out “All In” was followed a quick romp through “All My Friends” that served as a prelude to the evening’s “Bee Jam.” The “Bee Jam” was a “Team Spafford” affair with no one member taking control for a long period of time. Instead, the quartet worked in harmony to deliver a sublime jam. “Bee Jam” led into the earwormy “Windmill.” Brian’s distorted guitar tone was at the heart of the catchy tune. After a night in which Spafford mainly jammed in a minor key, “Windmill” featured a gorgeous major key sequence. LaForest and Fairless provided the groundwork for Moss to build to a beautiful and crowd-pleasing peak. The discofied “Lonely” closed the frame. Spafford said farewell with an “Ain’t That Wrong” encore that brought the cover-free show to a close. Listen to an audience recording captured by Jesse D. Scott:

Setlist (via Spaffnerds)

Set One: Funkadelic, Walls, Eternity

Set Two: All In, All My Friends > Bee Jam > Windmill, Lonely

Encore: Ain’t That Wrong

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