Goose kicked off its 2022 fall tour last night at The National in Richmond, VA with the first of an aggressively scheduled 13 shows in 18 nights. Built in 1923, The National is both historic and renovated, two words that should greatly please concertgoers when paired together. From the outside, it resembles an Italian villa and sits on a portion of a city block in downtown Richmond once known as Theatre Row. It’s here where the experience begins as patrons encounter their first taste of the venue’s Southern hospitality while mingling in the GA line.

From the box office to the rail, venue staff is friendly, helpful, and engaging. Upon entering, the interior is somewhat more restrained with wooden floors, brick walls, and seemingly endless passageways of nooks, crannies, and lounges revealing a series of painted stencils and concert art that lines the halls of the stately theater. A general admission floor sits beneath a VIP balcony suspended just 50 feet from the stage with muppet boxes to the right and left. Small enough to be intimate (1,500 capacity) but with a full-sized stage that has nearly unlimited clearance for lighting rigs with a state-of-the-art sound system, The National is a music lover’s fantasyland. House photographer Joe Jacoutout agrees, “This is the most beautiful venue I’ve ever shot and I’m grateful to call it home.”

Barely a month removed from a blazing summer tour that took place between the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific, Goose returned east in mid-tour form to set an impossibly high bar on fall tour’s opening night. Met with roaring approval as the band took the stage and experimented with some beautiful soundscapes, Goose eventually settled on the powerful “Dr. Darkness” in the opening slot, Rick Mitarotonda front and center with his chilling guitar and haunting vocals. “Doc Brown” would give multi-instrumentalist Peter Anspach his first vocal lead as he also turned from keyboards to guitar for the first time. There would be more sweet Pete heat to come, this of the Hammond B3 organ variety as “Jive I” followed.

Goose – “Dr. Darkness” [Pro-Shot] – 9/29/22

“Rosewood Heart” has a history of extended jams and last night’s nearly 25-minute version was one to behold. As the song left its structure after the first third, the middle third saw rainbow spirals and neon light bars popping off behind the band, lighting phenom Andrew Goedde doing his level best to keep up with the speed, dexterity, and technical acumen that make Mitarotonda one of the most sought-after young guitarists in the jam scene. After the final third wound down with teeth-rattling bass drops from Trevor Weekz, super fan Lucas Anderton commented, “That is the feeling you chase with every dollar you spend.” Yes, Lucas, it is.

The band followed a seamless transition into what is likely the biggest bust-out of its burgeoning career, a 462-show gap between covers of Chick Corea’s “Spain”, LTP 4/16/16. Beaming from ear to ear as he tickled his Vintage Vibe keyboard, Anspach led the way on this timeless jazz standard as he channeled Copacabana meets the Love Boat vibes that were positively ethereal. The once-a-tour treat and Creedence Clearwater Revival classic “Green River” followed before the set culminated with a second chapter from the “Jive” trilogy. Though a Jive-fecta was not in the cards on this night, the instrumental “Jive Lee” featured the evening’s first look at Anspach on the funktastic Hohner clavinet as drummer Ben Atkind goaded Mitaronda through a series of infinite peaks.

Goose – “Green River” (Creedence Clearwater Revival) – 9/29/22

[Video: Bill Nolen]

A snippet of conversation overheard in the bathroom line during intermission went as follows, “Rosewood Heart … some jams; Creedence … some more jams. That pretty much sums up the last 45 minutes.” Pretty solid tl;dr version to be sure.

A relentless “Flodown” opened the second set—familiarly known as a Flopener in Goose vernacular—its lyrics ringing true to form as the “rowdiest shindig ever seen” got underway in classic fashion. “Into The Myst” was up next as soaring guitar peaks gave way to sultry bass solos, Mitarotonda flashing looks at a next-level stank face that in turn urged Anspach to reach for his organ with his left hand while working his Vintage Vibe to the right.

A tall stack of “Pancakes” was on deck, the band staying focused on the task at hand as some weird energy in the pit was averted thanks to helpful security and a community that looks out for one another. For the record, general admission does not imply freedom to go wherever you want without regard for other people. End rant.

“A Western Sun” has long been one of the most inspiring ballads in the catalog, Rick’s vocals underscored last night by an epic bass rattle that had me wondering if the building’s foundation was poured over subwoofers rather than concrete. “Arrow” is an always welcome addition to a set, gong peels galore from percussionist/drummer Jeffrey Arevalo accompanying the theatrics of Rick and Peter’s dueling guitars. Portended by the rainstick that awaited its host Jon “Coach” Lombardi, it was just a matter of time before “Honeybee” surfaced, delivered faithfully in the encore slot to gift wrap a supreme first night of tour.

Every show is the best show since the last show until the next show. It’s never not true in Gooseville, but perhaps it’s time to shun the superlatives. From music to lights to atmosphere and everything in between, up to and including the production value for those who streamed the show live exclusively on, last night was, simply, a perfect concert. The best part: tonight we get to do it again. Information on Goose’s upcoming tour can be found here.

Goose’s ascension has been singularly fueled by the growth of their own and they’ve been gracious to extend that courtesy to the adoring community on the other side of the rail with homegrown photo passes. Check out a gallery of photos from Alexius Lipot.

Goose – The National – Richmond, VA – 9/29/22

Setlist: Goose | The National | Richmond, VA | 9/29/22

Set One: Dr. Darkness, Doc Brown, Jive I, Rosewood Heart > Spain (Chick Corea) [1], Green River (Creedence Clearwater Revival) > Jive Lee

Set Two: Flodown > Into the Myst > Pancakes > A Western Sun > Arrow

Encore: Honeybee

[1] LTP 4/16/16