moe., The Tabernacle, Atlanta Feb.22 & 23
My travel companions and I, six of us in all, loaded into our two
obliging vehicles early Friday morning on the twenty-second. Although the time of
departure was a little too early for some of us, the group was more than prepared for the eight hour drive that stood between us in Ohio, and the first two nights of moe.
2002 at The Tabernacle in Atlanta, GA. Each of us had pretty lofty expectations going into the trip. These expectations had been elevated from experiencing the way moe.
had finished 2001. So with the New Jersey NYE gigs fresh in my mind,
I couldn't help but raise the bar a bit for Atlanta. Jersey was a blast,
but I had a feeling that Atlanta would be a blowout.
moe. took the stage at 9:30 PM. They opened the set with Akimbo, which
is always a strong set opener. In the middle of this first number, I caught
a glance between Al Schnier and Chuck Garvey. Al had just finished a tour
promoting his solo album, al.one, and Chuck had just finished his All Thumbs
Tour. In this one glance I sensed the two were ecstatic about being
back on stage with moe. Next they played Nebraska and Can't Seem to Find. Both were pretty standard versions, maybe even a little flat at points.
This is to be expected for a band's first show in almost two months. After
a long tune-up they went into Bring It Back Home. At this point the guys
seemed to have worked out all the kinks. In this song moe. laid the groundwork for the rest of the show. Rob's pounding bass lines combined with
Jim's percussion, and Vinnie's drums were enough to bring the whole house
to their feet. For the first time in 2002, moe. hit a serious groove. They
added a little flavor to the jam with a nice Head tease toward the end.
From here they played a solid Captain America into Recreational Chemistry to
finish the set. I can never get over the way Al and Chuck trade leads in
Recreational Chemistry. So while they started out a little flat, moe. held on to hit some nice
grooves. All in all, the first moe. set of 2002 was a solid one.
When I left the Tabernacle on Friday night, I had a thought that
if moe. could play another show like that the next night, I would be pretty
satisfied with the opening weekend of 2002. Little did I know that not only
would they back Friday night's show up with a stellar performance, moe.
would turn the energy up yet another notch on Saturday.
moe. came back out to a crowd that was full of anticipation. They then opened the
second set with Mexico, a personal favorite and clearly a crowd pleaser as well.
They topped Mexico off with a jam into a huge Happy Hour Hero, one of the best versions I have heard live. The crowd responded enthusiastically
when Chuck Garvey stepped up on the voice box. From here the band
segued into Seat of My Pants. This has always been a captivating song for me, as moe. builds us up to a point of fevered excitement
before a changeover that provides for the perfect release. Next they went into a
perfectly timed Sensory Deprivation Bank which carried into Four, with
a nice Inca Roads tease (Frank Zappa). They jammed Four into
Rebubula a perfect close to this exemplary set as the band quite literally erupted
along with everyone in the sold-out Tabernacle. As the band finished to a
mosaic of smiles, the group noted the crowd's fervid response, with
Al telling everyone that we were like a New York City crowd. They came back
out after a brief pause back stage, and encored Fire, which I think speaks
volumes about what kind of show this was.
This is an exciting time for moe., and I am just grateful to be able to experience it. This show
illustrated to me why I traveled 600 miles to see the band and gave me so many
reasons to come back. The atmosphere was overflowing with heroic deeds.