Max Creek Pearl Street February 26 2016 Northampton MA

Max Creekpearl street

Pearl Street Northampton MA

February 26 2016

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I had not been to the Pearl Street since I saw Jay Farrar and Son Volt there probably ten years ago.  And I haven’t seen Creek since I’m not sure when, probably back in September at Wormtown.  So I was excited to go to this show.  I met up with some friends at Mullino’s directly adjacent to the Pearl Street and had an excellent dinner and some wine, and then we sauntered over.  I had a chance to chat with the band, and while talking to some friends I heard Scott call out the opener She’s Here.  I mentioned to him that it was the opener for my very first show back in 1988 in Providence and he said something along the lines of Some Things Don’t Change.

Max Creek has not played since New Year’s Eve and you could tell straight out of the gate that they were stoked to be playing together.  They were tight and exploratory.  From the first notes you could tell it was going to be a celebratory show and over the next several hours Creek freaks and the band came together.  The sound was incredible, better than I have heard it in any room in Northampton over a series of dozens if not a hundred shows.  Mike Gordon’s sound person (Rachel Capobianco of the Mike Gordon crew) had the room dialed in for front of house sound impeccably.  While this show had  been initially advertised as a downstairs show at the Pearl Street, it was moved upstairs and the extra room for Creek freaks was well appreciated.  People danced, gathered, hung out and enjoyed the band with zeal.

Part way through the first set something happened for me that was perfectly indicative of my life long appreciation of Creek shows.  I was talking to someone casually and I saw a guy come out of the crowd and give me that Hey Man! type of look. I didn’t recognize him at first and then it dawned on me-  it was Kevin!  Not only was he an old friend from my days at UMass some 25 years ago (or more!) but he was also a part of the gang that had all been together as we discovered Max Creek and went to shows together.  This is part of the essential element for me for Max Creek shows-  seeing old friends, establishing connections, family hanging together and doing and feeling what they want the most- amazing music and great times, great vibes.  It was on in full effect for this night.

The first set was unfolding and we got a Bill Carbone (drummer) for the fourth tune with I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight.  This was sandwiched between two John Rider tunes (Blood Red Roses and Dark Water.)  After Carbone’s tune, he got up from the drum set and original Max Creek drummer Bob Gosselin sat down behind the kit for a reunion of sorts.  He patiently escorted the band through Dark Water and Emotional Railroad.  And to further illustrate how classic this show was Mark Mercier fired into Big Boat.  The version threw back to the way I originally remembered the song, not any of the progressive versions of the song that I had heard over the years.

Second set opened with the same level of fire that the first set had with Trippin’ seeing Murawski scorch leads and vocals with passion.  His ability to mix what is clearly passion and energy with calm delivery is really a big key to what makes him such an exciting player to hear and watch.  He delivers his material, vocals and guitar licks with the practiced and purposeful motions of an illusionist, combining decades of precision and delivery with new excitement every time, always with a mischievous twinkle, as if a wink is about to be delivered personally to each member of the audience.Max Creek

Wild Side delivered by rock solid bassist John Rider was followed by another energetic Mercier tune Standing on Shaky Ground (the classic Temptations tune by Eddie Hazel, thought popularized by Phoebe Snow and Delbert McClinton).  But I was especially taken by the gentle entrance into Emerald Eyes which I’ve always found to be a sweet and transcendent original, one of my Creek favorites.  There was a stunningly beautiful melodic jam, gentle in nature, that came out of the main parts of the song with hints of the Peanuts theme but not a full outright reference.  Lovelight came next and was straight out of Emerald Eyes and the next transition brought us back to Bill Carbone and his love of The Band with the set closer Loving You is Sweeter than Ever.  It featured great vocal harmonies by the whole band and I know that I must have seen them do it but I had never really absorbed it as I did at this show.

The second set was plenty long so I almost wondered if we weren’t going to get an encore.  But the band came back pretty quickly with You’re the Only One led by John Rider and you could tell that really only the die hard Creek freaks were left by then.  A bunch of elder Creek fans were gathered together in the center of the dance floor, kicking up dust and reveling in their good time.  So I was certain that when the last few notes of that song would fade that it would be over, but I was wrong again.  Shockingly Murawski’s guitar licks trickled out and I knew that we were in for a classic-  Just a Rose was such a surprise to me-  how could the band have so much heat and energy left after what was probably three hours of music already delivered.  It seemed like a treat just for  the die hards- like Scott was saying “Ha-  leave early at a Max Creek show?  I’ll show you what you’ll miss.”   Game, Set, Match, Championship.

There was a lot of hand wringing among fans as to whether or not they would go to Pearl Street, and I can understand that past history has made security and other issues challenging in the minds of fans.  I personally didn’t have to go through the security line and I understand that it was a hassle.  There was an unexpected state fire inspection that had a bunch of yellow jacket dudes walking around, but they did their business and left-  I personally had no problem with security at this show and felt welcome and had plenty of room.  The decision to move upstairs was really beneficial toward the enjoyment of the show as downstairs would have been far too packed.  I had a great time and can’t wait for my next Creek show.

I’ll especially look forward to seeing Scott next week down in Costa Rica as a part of a huge super jam with John Kadlecik, Oteil Burbridge, Jason Crosby and Jeff Sipe at Jungle Jam.  It’ll be my first trip down there and I am incredibly excited.  Check out the preview of Jungle Jam here.

Full Audio:

Recorded & Mastered By Scott Medeiros

Set One:

01 She’s Here –>
02 After Midnight
03 Blood Red Roses –>
04 I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight
05 Dark Water *
06 Emotional Railroad *
07 Big Boat

08 Trippin’ 
09 Shaky Ground
10 Banter
11 Wild Side
12 Emerald Eyes –>
13 Love Light –>
14 Loving You


15 Your The Only One
16 Just A Rose

*Bob Gosselin on Drums

John Rider / Bass/Vox
Scott Murawski/ Guitar/ Vox
Jamemurrell Stanley / Percussion
Bill Carbone / Drums / Vox
Mark Mercier / Keys / Vox

To Submit a review or story for consideration hit us at [email protected]

Check out the Live Music News and Facebook page for updates and announcements.

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