The first set started off on a high note with the band’s newest composition, the heady CLOSE TO THE LINE, featuring some awe inspiring bass pedal work from Jason. This number leads right into SEA OF WISDOM which has re-entered the bands repertoire and emerged as a first-set stunner, lyrical and blithe while still retaining a visceral intensity, a nice bridge between the more raucous tunes and the band’s melodic ballads. 357 has been used as a spicy bridge leading into QUIET KINGS but here it’s a stand-alone instrumental and sets up an incendiary version of TOKYO TEA. CARAVAN follows with a snaky and loose intro jam, again a nice balance of force and melody, leading right into the always welcome DEEP MONSTER TRANCE.
For me, the real strength of the band since the first of the year has been the set-list construction. Whether playing a 2 set gig, or a 60 to 90 minute set, the set lists have to be the x-factor of 2011. The balance of dynamics within the set has been flawless this year, sometimes it’s a slow build to a final knockout punch, or a series of plateaus before a final climax; this year’s show share a common consistency. The slower ballads or more patient songs balance the frenetic moments leaving the audience with a much richer experience; sometimes less is more and the band has learned this. It’s a testament to the growth of The McLovins that they have learned to harness their catalog and realize that song placement is now more important than ever.
DEEP MONSTER TRANCE set the table for the second half of this epic set, a mammoth 15 minute funk journey bringing the energy level right back up and leading into the cooling chill down of MON AMI. This song is a twisty romping, rollicking number with signature Mclovins tempo and tone changes; a true delight. TETOP showcases Jason and Jake’s vocals, and the closing number BEAD HEAD CRYSTAL BUGGER was a prog masterpiece highlighted by some insane Jeff Howard guitar pyrotechnics.
This was an above average show that was quickly tipped over into the legendary category when the band was given another half-hour stage time, and as usual, they made the most of it. All that had happened so far during the show was to be eclipsed by the next 23 minutes as the band unleashed without a doubt their finest jamming piece in the past year. You have to go back to the Barn Show in October of ’09 to find another example of the kind of fearless and bold improvisation backed up with rock solid pocket jamming.
I’ve listened to the show 3 times now, and each time the TWEEZER REPRISE transitions into SHAKEDOWN I get chills... it doesn’t get any better than this, this band is weaponized right now, they’re focused, hungry and on point. I can’t believe it’s just May and the summer is barely here and they’re in this mode this early... Saturday night at Infinity Hall should be a superb show... but for now, listen to this one until your ears ring... it’s a devastating masterpiece indeed.
The McLovins - Jilians Of Albany 05/14/11