Literally for months I have been waiting for this weekend. Oh so long ago a two night run was announce by Medeski, Martin and Wood with the addition of long time friend John Scofield. This was a one off performance and I knew I couldn’t miss this opportunity to see my second favorite band. They never tour any more so any opportunity to see them I jump at it. Hench traveling to Denver in 2017 to see Jose Russo’s Almost Dead only because MMW was opening for them.
I will never live down the day probably close to 20 years ago by now, that I missed MSMW at the 9:30 Club. I thought the show would never sell out and boy was I wrong. Not only did I miss this first tour by the group but it was a birthday show for me too so I was really bummed. Since that time I never miss a MSMW show and I get my tickets early….way early. The day they went on sale early.
This trip really worked out. The shows where on Friday and Saturday which was pretty cool. I would just have to take Friday off to fly out, see the shows, and then fly back on Sunday, ready to work Monday. Eventually I figured out this was Easter weekend and that caused all sorts of issues coming back. Pat was flying into Vancouver for our traditional Easter brunch. I was able to fly into town and make it for Sunday dinner so almost as awesome as brunch. Prime rib was the the choice for dinner.
MWMW was playing the Ogden Theatre which is close to downtown so I stuck to my general game plan of staying at the Renaissance Denver Downtown. I can take the train from the airport to Union Station and then a free bus to the hotel. The hotel was only a short 25 minute walk to the venue and the rest of Colfax Ave.
I got into town mid-afternoon and headed to the hotel. Thankfully I got another room upgrade to a corner suite which was really nice. I hadn’t had anything to eat so after a quick stop for essentials I was off to French 75 to get some food and a well deserved beer. The flight over was nothing special but it was finally time to relax. The beef was cooked really well and the pasta was ok. I was trying to relive memories of Paris but that just wasn’t happening at French 75. After that it was back to the hotel for a quick nap before a long night.
I arrived a little late to the venue because I was napping so the first floor was all filled up. I headed upstairs to the second level and found a spot on the left side to catch the first set. The venue us a huge and beautiful place. From the outside it looks rough but on the inside it is a whole different story. The second floor balcony is huge and wraps around the entire venue. Ceilings are Art Deco and the stage is pretty big. There is even seating on the second floor back stage but I believe these seats cost extra.
As for the first nights performance….it was good. I honestly thought that Scofield was bringing the band down at times. His playing was just off for much of the night. It was like his hands just couldn’t keep up with the tempo or the pace of the songs at times. When things got complicated, he broke down. Despite Scofield’s playing it was a killer show and I was so happy to see them all playing together. Chris was really spot on with the bass. His jams were tight and precise and amazing to see. In fact he killed it both nights. After the show I walked to Voodoo to have a little taste of home. I should have eaten the doughnuts immediately instead of taking them back to the hotel. Oh well, still very good despite being smashed.
Saturday was a full day in Denver so I took the opportunity to have some fun before the start of the show. I wanted to hit some breweries in the area and like always, I find myself killing time in the morning waiting for them to open. This time around I decided to head south from the hotel so stopped off at the Denver Art Museum to check things out before getting into an afternoon of drinking. This was just on a whim and I am really glad I stopped.
First off they have demolished the north building since the last time I visited. This was a big shock when I saw this giant hole in the ground and cranes. The other kick ass thing was the Degas exhibit they had. The museum has lost most of its exhibit space so this special showing I thought was a great way to tide everyone over till the new building is completed. The exhibit was really well done. Such a huge collection of Degas, I have never seen so many in my life in one place. I have seen only a few of his works, the ballerinas I immediately recognized for example. The exhibit chronicled his life from his early work to the end of his life. Showing his work in different medias and how the subject matter changes as his life went on. A really great exhibit of his work and if you get a chance to see it, go.
Now that breweries were finally open I started getting down to some serious business. First up was Trve Brewing Co. This place reminds me a lot of Black Sky Brewing. An interesting brewery for sure. Its probably 20’ or so wide but really deep. Front portion has a garage door. Brewing operations in the back and so is the bar. Lots of long benches the lead you back to the bar. As is the theme things get darker the further you go into the place, really interesting style. Some nice contemporary art on the walls. Decor and theme is heavy metal and it really works. I actually really enjoyed the music that played the whole time I was there. Candles on the taps make it look like an alter. A good selection of draft but I really loved their bottle selection. Lots of aged beers which where awesome.
Then some quick food to keep me standing so I found Moe’s Original Bar B Que down the street. It was relatively close to where I was and the next brewery I wanted to hit so a perfect location. Since I arrived in the city I have done a lot of walking and the plate of food I got was huge but I devoured it all. It was some really good bbq and some much needed fuel to keep me going. It was already late in the afternoon so I was hoping this meal would keep me going all night. I was expected another late night of dancing and grooving.
For some reason in Denver I was on the sour kick and the second brewery I found was Baere Brewing Co. Another interesting location for sure. Small strip mall with limited parking. Does have a nice outdoor patio area for nice days which is cool. There are also garage doors that open the entire place up. Lots of aged beers here which is awesome. You can see many of the barrels all stacked up in the back. 80’s new wave music going on which was cool. Lots of exposed wood and polished concrete floors.
By now it was time to start making my way to the venue. I told myself I was going to get a good spot yet maximized my time before the show. Colfax Ave is a hoping place so plenty to do before walking into the show. I found The 1Up, a classic arcade joint, before the show. I have been to the one in LoDo but not the one on Colfax. A low ceiling and cramped place with a decent selection of games. I find Ground Kontrol to be better.
Finally it was time to get to the venue. I timed it to arrive a little before 9pm. I was planning on just walking in, going up stairs, coat check and boom, concert. As I started walking towards the venue I noticed something was wrong but it took a moment to figure out the situation. The block was out of power and there was a line of people standing outside waiting to get in. Not wanting to just stand in the freezing cold I did a lap around the area to keep warm, constantly checking for updates to the power. It looked like literally only two block where without power which sucked. As time went by and no updates being posted I started getting concerned if the show was going on at all. A rescheduled date would be hard for me to make.
Finally around 9:30 the power was restored and there was a giant roar from the crowd. Come to find out the venue started letting people in and then the power when out so everyone had to evacuate. Since most people where already queued outside once everyone got in the show pretty much started immediately. Despite the late start we still got two full sets totaling 2.5 hours which was awesome.
Scofield was off for a second night but still a good performance over all. Disappointingly they repeated a few songs from the previous night. I found out the reason for the two shows too. This was the 20th anniversary of A Go Go and the start of their collaboration with Scofield. This time because of the power outage I got a pretty decent spot on the balcony directly in front of the stage. During the second set there was a lady behind me, Stacy. What an interesting woman she was. Another great show that night and a total blast seeing the band playing again.
My flight back on Sunday was pretty early. My original plan was to get back to Portland at a reasonable hour and then relax the rest of the day so I could start work refreshed on Monday. Since it was Easter and Pat was in town when I got back I took a quick nap and then headed to Easter dinner. Pat was in town as part of a long trip out west to see everyone and for a family trip to Nanaimo for a week.
Whenever MMW play again I will seriously consider traveling to see the show. I love to travel, I love this band and it is something they do irregularly. My hope is that one day they will travel back to Japan or maybe a European tour so I can hit that and really enjoy a vacation seeing MMW.
Medeski, Scofield, Martin and Wood
Friday, March 30th 2018
Ogden Theatre – Denver, CO
Show starts at 8:50pm
- Sham Time
- A Go Go
- Light My Fire
- Chicken Dog >
- Juicy Lucy
Set over at 10:07pm
Set 2 starts at 10:35pm
- Chank >
- Deadzy >
- What Now >
- What’d I Say
- Sunshine of Your Love
Set over at 11:50pm
Encore starts at 11:53pm
- Tootie Ma is a Big Fine Thing
House lights at 12:03am
Medeski, Scofield, Martin and Wood
Saturday, March 31st 2018
Ogden Theatre – Denver, CO
Show starts at 9:42pm
- Boozer >
- Southern Pacific
- Little Walter Rides Again
- I Got a Woman >
- Partido Alto
- Jeep on 35
Set over at 10:55pm
Set 2 starts at 11:30pm
- Legalize It
- A Go Go
- Miles Behind >
- Sunshine of Your Love >
- Fuck You Guys
Set 2 over at 12:41am
Encore starts at 12:45am
- Green Tea
House lights at 12:52am
Notes: Power was out to a couple block for a while. Eventually just before 9pm power was restored. We quickly filtered in, security was a breeze. Additional microphone this night.