moe. returned to its stomping grounds of New York for the first of three shows at the beloved Brooklyn Bowl on Thursday night. It was also the first time the new-look moe. had been in NYC since the return of founding member Chuck Garvey from his recent medical sidelining due to a stroke in 2021 so all eyes were on him from the start. And what a start it was.

Whether it’s the more contemplative Bob Dylan-penned “Man In Me” or the majestic “Rock Gods” jam led by guitarist Al Schnier in “Seat Of My Pants”, moe. was clearly ready to rise to and best any challenge the evening had in store. “LL3” came and went, dissolving through a beautifully done Nate Wilson keys-heavy jam into the sadly still relevant political romp “Tailspin”. A skunky, funky “Jazz Cigarette” showcased the magnificent percussive prowess of Jim Loughlin on his mighty MalletKat before the set-closing one-two punch up of the always welcome “Spine Of A Dog” into “Buster” jam fans know and love.

moe. – “Man In Me” (Bob Dylan) > “Seat Of My Pants” > “LL3” [Pro-Shot] – 5/18/23

moe. – “Spine Of A Dog” > “Buster” – 5/18/23

[Video: Chad Sclove]

While guitarist Garvey, whose recent medical issues are still fresh in everyone’s mind, isn’t quite 100%, clearly he’s in the mid-90s and rising quickly if his “Buster” chops are any indicator. Newest moe. member Nate Wilson continues to find intriguing ways to insert himself into moe. classics, as his jams throughout the sonic two-fer were perfectly pitched and very well received by the audience full of longtime moe. fans (AKA moe.rons). From that point on there was nothing to do but take a much-needed set break to cool off the players and their now red-hot instruments of musical mayhem.

Set two opened with a four-song, non-stop sonic flurry of differing styles and musical instrumentation that hopped genres as effortlessly as most folks breathe. While “Kyle’s Song” and its storybook vibe can be a bit by the numbers sometimes, Thursday was made fresh, again by Wilson’s innovations. Subsequent tunes “Livin’ Again” and “Down Boy” set up the all-hands-on-deck dance party “McBain” perfectly.

moe. – “Kyle’s Song” > “Livin’ Again” [Pro-Shot] – 5/18/23

Bassist Rob Derhak and drummer Vinnie Amico were impressive all evening but never more so than in the twisting, turning “Sensory Deprivation Bank”. By the end of the crowd favorite, the smiles on the dynamic duo were nearly as blinding as the lights that painted the venue walls and the audience was pert near out of control. Wisely deciding to get the runaway energy under control while keeping the emotion high, moe. ended the set with a contemplative, heartfelt “Bring You Down” that did, in fact, bring everyone safely down.

Acting on the instincts that made him one of America’s premiere promoters, Brooklyn Bowl owner Peter Shapiro, (Relix, The Capitol Theatre, savior of the Wetlands Preserve) took the stage to honor the return of Garvey with a special, truly touching impromptu award. A small bowling trophy that has borne witness to every show this storied venue/bowling alley/chicken shack hybrid has hosted was taken from its place behind the main desk and presented to the hard-working Garvey in recognition of the fretboard fireworks of the evening, his amazingly fast return to form and,…well…his entire body of work. It clearly wasn’t planned, but it was definitely from the heart. Plus, whatever its size, it was worth it to hear a comically jealous resident moe. sportsman Derhak quip at Garvey “Clearly they’ve never seen you bowl.”

Peter Shapiro Presents moe.’s Chuck Garvey With Bowling Trophy

[Video: Chad Sclove]

From there it was time for a special two-song encore featuring an always sentimental “Letter Home” and special guest guitarist Tim Palmieri (Lotus, Kung Fu) for a wild and wooly take on Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song”. Notably, Palmieri previously represented the only missing member of moe. side project Bluestar Radiation (alongside Derhak, Amico, and Wilson), so his presence made this not only a sit-in but also counted as a de facto practice session, so bonus points for musical multitasking!

While yes, it’s true that Jim Loughlin’s vocals don’t quite match up to Robert Plant’s legendary barbarian wail but the exploratory jam moe. and its guest laid down more than equaled the scales. That’s what is special about the now six guys named moe. and whichever of their friends happens to be onstage with them at any given moe.ment…they’re going to rise to the challenge, meet, and likely beat it. They might not always get trophies but night in and night out moe. are winners.

Check out image galleries from moe. at Brooklyn Bowl on Thursday courtesy of photographers Ken Spielman and Andrew Blackstein.

moe., Tim Palmieri – “Immigrant Song” (Led Zeppelin) – 5/18/23

[Video: Chad Sclove]

Setlist: moe. | Brooklyn Bowl | New York, NY | 5.18.23

Set One: Man In Me (Bob Dylan) > Seat Of My Pants > LL3 > Tailspin, Jazz Cigarette, Spine Of A Dog > Buster

Set Two: Kyle’s Song > Livin’ Again > Down Boy > McBain, Sensory Deprivation Bank > Bring You Down

Encore: Letter Home, Immigrant Song (Led Zeppelin) [1]

[1] w/Tim Palmieri