Reviews > Shows
Mike Gordon at the McDonald
This was my third time seeing the Mike Gordon Band (MGB) and to say they have improved by leaps and bounds since Rothbury 2008 would be a supreme understatement. This band hardly even resembles the one I saw in Portland just four short months ago.
The MGB reminds me of a young basketball team just starting to realize their potential, the Oklahoma City Thunder if you will. Much like Kevin Durant Mike is the obvious leader but he is also very unselfish in trying to get his teammates involved, and this attitude is where MGB truly excels right now.
You can almost see and feel their chemistry and confidence as a unit growing by the minute as they continually try and push the limits to discover new ground. They are having far too much fun for it to seem like work either as all the smiles and supportive body language on stage would suggest.
When you combine all their talents with the ambition to take things into perpetually new directions and the collective attitude to make it work you just can’t shake the feeling that this is a band on the verge of doing big things in the jam world. I only wish the people of Eugene would have realized this sooner as it took a while for the crowd to arrive and settle in. With the energy of the room initially lacking, the show didn’t really take off until “Traveled Too Far.” “TTF” featured an extended grooving intro and when the lyrics ended the crowd was ready to get down and Scott Murawski’s guitar work did not disappoint taking us all on an extended journey.
The next highlight was Little Feat’s “Sailin’ Shoes” that started with a swanky Mike bass solo that disguised what was coming. Once people realized what tune was being the played the energy in the room went up a few notches. The set closing debut of “Babylon Baby” was expertly played and featured some more stellar shredding from Murawski.
Son Seals’ “Funky Bitch” got the second set started with an adrenalin boost. The quirky little reggae ditty “The Grid” then caught me by surprise and turned out to be very enjoyable. The Beatles’ “She Said, She Said” was rocking right from the jump and the jam went way out there creating a swirling mass of dancing bodies before crashing back into the lyrical finish. “What Things Seem” was a welcome interlude that featured a nice breakdown from keyboardist Tom Cleary and a muscular “Dig Further Down” closed the show out on a high note.
Prior to the encore Mike directed a stretch where the entire crowd (literally) had both arms spread as far apart as possible then he asked drummer Todd Isler for some “help.” As Isler started the familiar drum beat to “Mound” Mike was taking his arms over his head leading the crowd in a unified clap. I really dug how the intro to “Mound” was extended before dropping into the meat of the tune. It goes without saying that this was a crowd pleaser.
By the time the house lights came on the McDonald was practically full both upstairs and down. This was fitting, as the music MGB is creating right now is much more compelling and vital than most “new” things happening in the jam scene today.
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