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Blues Traveler and moe., Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Morrison, CO- 7/4

The breezes bellowed through the hallowed halls of Red Rocks Amphitheatre on our nation’s birthday. Many fans spent most of the day grilling and imbibing in the parking lots that surround the venue in the hours leading up to show time for Blues Traveler’s 4th of July concert, which is a tradition that has spanned a couple decades at this point.

moe. came on right on time around 7:30. Their set at Red Rocks was much more of a crowd pleaser that the previous night’s more intrepid journey in Boulder. Unlike the previous night’s performance in Boulder where they extrapolated and gave the sour with the sweet, their Red Rocks show was all sugar. It has been three years since their last tenure on the famed stage, and they seemed truly happy to be back again. Opening with a segued sequence that included “Tailspin” into a sublime “Captain American” followed by a rowdy “Akimbo,” was enough to warm the heart of even the most disenfranchised music fan. They also invited Traveler’s John Popper and Ben Wilson out for Rob Derhak’s newest homage to his progeny, now called “Crackers.” They then stayed for the most interesting song of the set, “Plane Crash” as Popper ripped up his harmonica, which seemed to fill any innate gaps in this classic moe. tune. Chuck Garvey then took the reins on “Haze” before the band’s lone real extended musical jam with “Jazz Wank.” Looking out across the audience for “Rebubula.” The body of people seemed to sway and bob during this incredible rendition.

“How great is this? Are we lucky or what?” – Al Schnier

moe. finished their set with another classic, “New York City.” All in all their hour plus set went exactly as expected. They refrained from any extended jamming in favor of running through a collection of songs sure to please. Musically the band was spot on, especially given the fact they only had a hair over sixty minutes they delivered.

After a fairly long stage change, Blues Traveler made their way out to their instruments. At this point in the evening the sun was hiding behind the Front Range and darkness was the backdrop. Blues Traveler had announced weeks before their show that they would be performing their album Save His Soul in its entirety. Oddly enough they played the entire music video for “Defense and Desire” before they ventured out into the spotlight. Of course they opened with “Trina Magna.”

Musically this set was spot on, featuring some impeccable playing from one of the founding fathers of jam. It being the twentieth anniversary of Save His Soul, it was a highly appropriate choice, however there was something lacking in the rendition. It felt choppy. Still, the rendition of the album lasted well over two hours showcasing some songs that had not been performed by the band in well over five years. The first treat of the show was a version of “Believe Me” with thirteen year old on guitar Caspian and this kid could shred. They performed a back and forth rendition of “Go Outside and Drive” with moe’s Jim Loughlin on xylophone that featured some quick jams on “Low Rider’ and “Blister In The Sun.” “NY Prophesies” was another real highlight and immediately after they invited Al from moe. out to jam on the title track of the album. Towards the end of the show a fireworks display from Bandimere Speedway could be seen and many wandered over to the stairwell to gaze.

The encore was stellar. including a beautiful rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner” as well as ZZ Top’s “La Grange” with another youngster on guitar in addition to Caspian. We were also treated to a new track “Cara Let The Moon” which saw some very picturesque vocals from Popper.

All in all, for the hardcore BT fan I’m sure this was an epic show, however this was not quite what I was craving. I’ve seen this band literally blow the non-existent roof off the Rocks but for me, this just wasn’t that. Of course there is always next year.

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