The behemoths of rock McGee of Umphrey descended on the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, Colorado this Friday for their first of two shows, offering a comprehensive package of classics, new tracks, sit-ins and covers, including an emotional take on the Queen and David Bowie classic “Under Pressure” featuring featured the great Jennifer Hartswick of the Trey Anastasio Band on vocals.
Fresh on the heels of an old-fashioned barn burner at the Dillon Amphitheater, Umphrey wasted no time diving into his extensive catalog on Friday, opening the first set with the aptly titled “Bad Friday.” A well-oiled machine, the band directed their energy into “Divisions” next, which featured some nifty guitar work from lead guitarist Jake Cinninger. “Walletsworth” and “Slacker” followed, keeping Dillon’s old-school energy moving through Red Rocks. “Slacker” clocked in at nearly 16 minutes, providing space for the most improvised work of the night. Rhythm guitarist Brendan Bayliss traded licks with Cinninger, while keyboardist Joel Cummins kept the groove airy and fresh. “Speak Up” and “Little Gift” followed, with big energy from the fan-favorite “Divisions” closing out the first set.
After a short break to let the Colorado crowd catch their breath, Umphrey’s McGee took the new track “Small Strides” for a spin, marking only the second time the band has performed the song live. It certainly feels like Strides will become a staple of UM’s repertoire, as the band operated around the song with extreme comfort and confidence.
Following the new lead of their upcoming ask a friend album, was a classic dose of heavy UM with “1348 > Hajimemashite > Day Nurse”, in which the band explored all different types of musical fields. From dark heavy metal riffs to light and airy melodies, the members of Umphrey’s McGee are magicians when it comes to incorporating multiple genres throughout a jam.
The highlight of the evening, however, came with a guest appearance by Jennifer Hartswick, a longtime friend of guitarist Brendan Bayliss, who accompanied the band on vocals of Queen’s classic “Under Pressure” and David Bowie. The captivated Red Rocks audience sang along as friends hugged and rejoiced; it was truly a special moment for everyone present. Then, Rory Dolan from lespecial (who opened the night) backed the mid-lockdown kit for fan favorite ‘Phil’s Farm’. At this point, the band were unstoppable, delivering heavy jams through “The Tripe Wide” and finally the cover “1348” to end Set II.
After a brief break, the sextet’s powerhouse followed up with “Much Obliged” and “Pay the Snucka” to end a very strong Red Rocks first night. Umphrey’s McGee continues to reinvent themselves and show the jamming community that they continue to be one of the main staples on the scene today. They return to the stage Saturday night at Red Rocks and wrap up their epic Colorado run in Vail on Sunday night.
Check out more photos from the show.