Spafford entertained the masses at Denver, CO’s emerging Sculpture Park on Thursday with a prominent display of the band’s shifting musical direction. The concert came one day ahead of Phish‘s 10th annual Labor Day run at DICK’S Sporting Goods Park in nearby Commerce City.
Opening up with the band’s first run through the Scissor Sisters‘ “Take Your Mama” since 1/31/21, Spafford eased into things as bassist Jordan Fairless took lead vocals for a quick take on the pop tune. The band settled into a groove early on with a Fairless original, “Lovesick Melody”, with Spafford engaging in the laid-back funk jams for which it is best known as the song seamlessly flowed into “Soil”.
Though most in attendance didn’t require keyboardist Andrew “Red” Johnson‘s encouragement to make ourselves “Comfortable”, it was appreciated nonetheless as the audience settled into the grassy plain of Sculpture Park for a long night of music. The first inclination of changing winds in Spafford came as Red laid on the dancetronic tones while drummer Nick Tkachyk set up the driving disco backbeat.
As the sun set behind the Sculpture Park stage and the temperature began to dip, guitarist Brian Moss wrapped up in a cozy sweater of a groove as the dance party wound down to an easygoing shuffle. This ultimately laid the groundwork for “Mind’s Unchained” for a slight breather, though Spafford shows time and again that most any song can become a lengthy vehicle if given the right attention. That philosophy is still waiting to be applied to the new original “Giants in the Light”, debuted last month in Nashville, which served as a brief set closer.
Returning for the second frame, Jordan assured us all we didn’t have to be “Lonely” with his tender love song. All the lovey-feely sentiments aside, Spafford still ripped through the track with a Brian-led charge of primal, Type-I jamming.
Though Phish was able to move its shows from Stateline, NV to Mountain View, CA successfully, the same was not the case for Spafford, who canceled its planned Wednesday show. As such, Jordan Fairless instead celebrated a belated birthday on Thursday, with the crowd erupting in an impromptu if-off-tempo “Happy Birthday” for the bassist.
Back to business, Spafford trotted out yet another debut from Nashville, “Pursuit of Madness”. The ebb and flow of the show’s energy continued in a game of push-me-pull-me between Brian and Red as the keyboardist laid on the clavinet and took the band once again down the path of trancefusion with this alternate version of the song. Brian took the energy right back, however, as he brought the band through a high tempo cover of Men at Work‘s “Down Under” that shot off some fiery, if brief, sparks of intense jams.
The communal nature of Spafford continued as the wheel turned back over to Jordan on a serene “Plans”. Though things started out peaceful, both the tones and stage lights took on a dark red hue as the band began to tread upon evil waters. The ambient threat of doom was ultimately squelched as Brian tore into the power chords that signal “Dis Go in 5?” prior to Fairless taking an extended bass solo that quite possibly pleased Brian Moss more than anyone in attendance. As the final notes rang out of a “Plans” reprise at the stroke of 10 p.m., Spafford wrapped up right on time without an encore.
Check out some images from Spafford at Sculpture Park in Denver, CO on Thursday courtesy of photographer Andrew Rios. Spafford is off to play BottleRock Napa Valley in California tonight, September 3rd. For a full list of tour dates visit the band’s website.
Setlist: Spafford | Sculpture Park | Denver, CO | 9/2/21
Set One: Take Your Mama, Lovesick Melody > Soil, Comfortable > Mind’s Unchained, Giants in the Light
Set Two: Lonely, Pursuit of Madness% > Down Under#, Plans> Dis Go in 5? > Plans
# – Men at Work
% – Trance Version