Providence was the band’s first stop on the U.S. tour and the first time back here in 13 years. It was also the first time Coven and While We’re Young were on a live recording set list. You can buy the full recording here at Providence LiveSnarky.
Before giving the show/track recap, a brief commentary on the Immigrance album, tour and band progression. I believe that the importance and relevance of this album and tour are huge — when the album title was chosen there was no way of knowing what condition the United States and world would be in, but right now the title and theme could not be more relevant. There is not an easy way to know the “meaning” of songs or titles since they are instrumental but we know for example that Bigly Strictness is dedicated to the one who says “bigly” a lot. To that end, I see and hear a growth in the album and especially in the live recordings of the new and old songs. First, the Immigrance songs are perhaps darker, somewhat more rhythmic and less melodic, darker, and more melancholic than many of their predecessors. They can seem more discordant with some rough edges and maybe less plotted out — I hear that, but I think when you listen to the live recordings, you’ll find that there are more directions that each song can take. The solos are often very uplifting and can take you in or out of a daydream. The recordings stretch each song in length and as usual, the variance of the lineup, the city, the set list and the mood, including the audience, make each experience unique. Xavi and Bad Kids to the Back, are the two songs that are most similar to previous recordings, in my view and were the single releases. The bonus tunes, which we’ll hear more of throughout the tour include Embossed, Chrysalis and Bardis and are all outstanding. When hearing the new songs mixed in with the old songs, the blend makes for outstanding shows. Even hearing the old songs with new twists makes this band a leader in instrumental, world, funk, jazz MUSIC!
Beep Box – Nice starting tune with a terrific Maz solo that carries throughout most of this relatively short version (5:56).
Flood – Nice, near acoustic solo intro by McQueen on guitar. He is one of the key members of FORQ and he can rip a solo but this one shows another side before the usual horn intro. The pace of the song seems faster than usual with shorter clipped notes. Shaun takes a nice extended trip in the middle of the tune. Michael puts through a more scratchy, electronic sounding bass through the refrain and out. Nice Nate-Jamison duel at the back end.
Coven – This is a relatively short version of Coven and sticks mostly to the album script. Excellent guitar solo from McQueen here. It’s a solid rendition start to finish.
Bigly Strictness – This tune is fast becoming one of my live favorites. The eerie head of the tune alternates with a more upbeat horn refrain with a revelry like calling. The ending of this tune with the Middle Eastern rhythm and percussion march matched with the terrific hypnotic horn refrain is in my view, one of the best passages on any of the new songs and here it as great as ever. One fan says “Shaun’s talkbox solo on is amazing — I prefer it over the album version.” It will take you to outer space!
Bad Kids to the Back – Nice soprano sax solo from Bullock which is the first time he’s used that instrument live with to my knowledge and it’s a new weapon in Chris’ arsenal. He does a nice job including upper register squeaks providing a little edge.
While We’re Young – Steven cites “Justin’s really nicely-developed Rhodes solo here” as one of the show’s highlights. This is a great example of how the album version which is very short gets room to grow and breathe live.
Tarova – “This is a rearranged Tarova, with Bobby and Shaun trading licks in the intro and has a new unison line in the middle of the tune”, Steven points out. Chris takes a nice solo in the middle followed by a “heavier” chorus.
Thing of Gold – One of the group’s most popular tunes, this has a bright overall tone with nice back and forth between McQueen on guitar and the horns in the middle. Maz takes an excellent flugelhorn solo here as well.
What About Me? – Again the double edged synth-clav opening brings new spring to the opening. McQueen takes a solo here and continues the note-bending, guitar extending space sounds that I heard from him at GroundUP Fest (and before). It’s an overused term, but he just shreds in almost a psychedelic-metal edgy form. I like how Michael introduces each member as leader of their own band (truth!). And the crowd goes wild for the encore!
Xavi – Already, Xavi is destined already to be a major encore feature. Bullock takes another nice solo here, forgoing any pedal effects. Mason Davis sits in on percussion as he’ll do on this tune for several upcoming shows as well. Nice balanced close with several fine solos. Overall a solid start to the U.S. tour!