December 31 2022 had New England’s favorite ring out the year and usher in the next at Race Street Live in Holyoke, MA.
Cover Photo by Angel Simon
It’s been years since we had a legitimate live music New Year’s Eve. It totally looked like it was going to happen last year, but most all bands celebrated the new year in Spring due to a huge influx of Covid thanks to the Omicron variant. This year, thankfully- we were able to all celebrate together. Now, NYE is a big night for live music fans, mostly because of how seriously bands treat the night. I’ve had the good fortune of seeing some amazing shows on NYE including playing a few gigs myself, seeing Phish and the famed Frank Zappa set back in 1993, the Dead’s last two official NYE shows in 90 and 91, and this year I was lucky to return to see one of my favorite bands, Max Creek on New Year’s Eve. (Read the review of the Oakland Dead 12.31.90 here.)
We had some family business to attend, and picked up our friend Stephanie and headed down to Holyoke. I have not been to the venue since it was renamed from the old Gateway City Arts to the Race Street Live venue it is now. I had seen a couple of epic shows in the past, including the Demse memorial show back before the venue was really truly open, through to one of the loudest concerts I’d ever seen, Bob Mould back shortly before the pandemic on a cold night. (Review of Bob Mould Holyoke MA JAN 2020 here.)
This night however was not too frigid, and we parked a couple blocks away from the venue. We walked in and the band had already been playing for I’m guessing almost a half hour. Alas, the recording I made only starts a few songs in as a result. There was a day that I would have been at the venue an hour early, recorded or watched every second, and stayed until I was one of the last patrons in the place. But that wasn’t to be on this night and I was truly thankful for every note that I did get to experience.
In their fifty two years together Max Creek has likely played nearly as many NYE shows. These days, every Max Creek show is a celebration, from an anniversary run, to a festival or boat cruise or any number of great reasons to celebrate together. So in a way, the celebration has been normalized. The true celebration for the band and its fans is just another night to be together. Everyone seems so elated to see each other. When one of us stumbles, there’s another one of us to catch them. When someone is lonely, a Max Creek show it one of the places that they are truly home and with their families. So this night was a wonderful celebration of all that we love.
Shortly after I got there, the band showered us with a rarety in the Ramones Sheena is a Punk Rocker. While the night contained many tasty standards and oldies for Max Creek including Band from Chicago, Blood Red Roses, Windows, Peaceful Warrior and others, there were a few rareties sprinkled throughout. I can’t say as I remember a ton of times that Scott Murawski’s ICU was in the set list. Mark Mercier’s rendition of The Band’s Rag Mama Rag seemed like another less frequently played song for me.
The band rolled through a medley of midnight themed covers including The Midnight Special, After Midnight, and the Midnight Hour leading up to the NYE countdown. The front men of the band all brought up their leading ladies who helped to count down and a toast was raised to us all by the band. There was no balloon drop or fireworks necessary, as everyone in the room had a city’s worth of love for each other and the band. A good three minutes of good cheer was shared around before Murawski took the stage along with Bill Carbone and Jay Stanley on drums for a rousing rendition of his Same Things.
John Rider especially was in fine form with strong turns on the vocals and bass including You Angel You a relatively new song to the Creek setlist, and the band’s main encore Going Down the Road Feeling Bad. Mercier also gave us many tasty songs including another rarety in Katie Mae. We hit the road fearing bad driving conditions to the notes of Goin Down the Road Feeling Bad and didn’t catch the reprise of Just a Rose which Murawski indicated was a callback to their shows at the Met in RI two weeks ago… now that’s one long reprise period!
The setlist below was found on the social media posting of August Forming, who also wrote:
“It’s been a long time since I saw a Max Creek New Years Eve show. Even though it has been 3 years since they played an actual NYE show the last time for me was NYE 2012/2013. Ten years??!! Damn!
That being said I felt like the band killed it so hard last night that it made up for all that lost time. Wow what a fantastic night front to back. Some really outstanding jams & song selections. They dug deep and delivered a grand slam! I can’t remember the last time I saw them play ICU. This was one of the best shows I have seen/worked in 2022. I mean all shows from 2022. Not just Max Creek. Big thanks to Max Creek! The band and crew! You all are the best. Thanks so much for having me. So great to see a lot of you! If I missed seeing you this time I will hopefully see you in 2023! I LOVE YOU ALL! Yep, my job rocks.”
Max Creekb Race Street Live
Holyoke, MA 12-31-22
Set 1: [8:22PM]
Don’t Do It >>
I Can’t Let Go
Peaceful Warrior >>
Sheena Is A Punk Rocker
Gone At Last
Set 2: [10:37PM]
Blood Red Roses >>
Rag Mama Rag
The Field +>>
Band From Chicago >
Midnight Special >>
After Midnight >>
Midnight Hour >>
Atomic Clock Countdown >
HAPPY 2023!! >
Same Things >>
Katie Mae >>
You Angel You
Going Down The Road Feeling Bad >
Just A Rose (Reprise)%
^Scott says during song “Are you filming dude? Well hi out there in film land”
+Scott tells the story of his version of a sensory deprivation tank using a radio & headphones”
%Scott says “This is continued from The Met.”
Upcoming Max Creek shows;
JAN 21 Towne Crier Beacon NY TICKETS
FEB 24 Cutting Room NYC TICKETS
MAR 24 Park City Music Hall Bridgeport CT TICKETS
April 21 Ophelia’s Denver CO TICKETS
April 22 Ophelia’s Denver CO TICKETS
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