moe. made its triumphant return to Asheville, NC on Thursday for a show at The Orange Peel marking the band’s first performance in the North Carolina music haven since 2016.

Things looked a little different for the Buffalo, NY dads of jam rock six years later. Perhaps most notably, the band upgraded its arsenal to include new full-time keyboardist Nate Wilson. In addition to that tangible lineup change, the sold-out concert also marked the latest stop in guitarist Chuck Garvey‘s victory lap as he returns to touring following a stroke in November 2021 which kept him off the stage until New Year’s Eve 2022.

Though the band’s bio sheet may have been updated, Thursday’s concert delivered the moments that moe. fans have come back to see again and again for over 30 years. The newly minted sextet delivered forays into arena-rock glory interspersed with cohesive jams and sprinkled with a couple choice covers.

With the show’s opening “Haze”, moe. introduced itself with the straight-ahead rocker, setting out on a non-stop stream of music that went uninterrupted for nearly half an hour. Seamless transitions eventually wound the band through Pink Floyd‘s “Fearless”, as Garvey’s slide, Jim Loughlin‘s vibraphone, and Wilson’s Moog synthesizer—played mere miles from the Moog factory and museum in Asheville—coalesced in a soaring segue.

Though the music seldom ceased, guitarist/vocalist Al Schnier still found time to switch guitars nearly every song, toggling through his trusty double-necked past a multitude of models before eventually landing on his reliable teel Gibson SG.

By the time “Skrunk” rolled around midway through the first set, moe. had achieved communal oneness as each musician locked in and played together as a singularity. The jam clicked as the band teetered on the edge of Floydian psychedelic rock mixed and abrasive crunch, taking moe. headfirst into a “Tailspin”. The bone-rattling power chords eventually gave way to the low rumble of Rob Derhak‘s bass, summoning the jaunty “Billy Goat” before set break.

Returning for the second set, Chuck showed just how far he’s come since relearning how to walk, talk, and play guitar following his stroke by taking the reigns on a journey into “Puebla”. Though moe.’s lineup has been firmly established for decades, the group’s expansive improvisation still made sure to leave enough room sonically for Wilson, even if at times his input was largely textural as the band wedges a new instrument into time-honored tunes. moe. is a living, breathing organism whose survival necessitates the absorption of the life forms in its environment, be they audience members or new bandmates.

Satan stayed in command for the hellish “Tubing The River Styx” into “The Pit”. Garvey’s flashy moves like playing his guitar on the mic stand were backed up by potent blues licks as the band grabbed its horseshoes for the tale of “Timmy Tucker”. The expansive jam proved a highlight of the evening, etching past the 20-minute mark. While there was still plenty of time on the clock following this outsized telling, the band and audience seemed to come to the same conclusion during a brief pause that the show could have ended after “Timmy Tucker” and everyone could have walked away happy.

A concise “Spaze Medicine” led to Wilson’s moment in the spotlight for a cover of Traffic‘s “Light Up Or Leave Me Alone”, giving him a chance to flex not only his keyboard chops but also his vocal contributions. The second set still had room for one more meaty jam, with “Buster” taking flight to send the band into encore break. Following some brief al.nouncements, a straight-ahead take on “Tamborine” that could have easily been plucked from the first set ended the evening on a jangly, honky-tonk note.

Check out a gallery of images from moe. at The Orange Peel in Asheville on Thursday courtesy of photographer Steve Wittenberg/MeanPony Productions. The Southeastern leg of the band’s tour wraps this weekend with a two-night run in Atlanta. For tickets and a full list of tour dates head here.

moe. – The Orange Peel – Asheville, NC – 3/23/23 – Full Audio

[Audio: Michael Frasca]

Setlist: moe. | The Orange Peel | Asheville, NC | 3/23/23

Set One: Haze > Wormwood > Fearless (Pink Floyd) > Deep This Time, Skrunk > Tailspin > Billy Goat

Set Two: Puebla > Tubing The River Styx > The Pit > Timmy Tucker, Spaz Medicine, Light Up Or Leave Me Alone (Traffic) > Buster

Encore: Tambourine