There is nothing quite like a brilliantly talented band playing to a small crowd for free. Truly a hidden gem, MOAB (Mother of All Bands) continues to baffle those in the know each and every Monday of each and every week at the Spotlight Tavern in Beverly, MA. The solidarity of this band is most noteworthy as their experience and passion shines through on even the dullest of songs. Fantastically done covers blend seamlessly with impressive originals as the vocalist Richard James seems to be completely unaware of what is and is not his. Blown away, though unknowingly to where, I found myself entranced by the professional quality of the knock-back guitar riffs that were now adamantly punching me in the face. I have rarely been so pleasantly oblivious to my surroundings as I was sucked into a now escalating jam. As the band moves into a psychedelic rendition of the Beatles’ Tax Man any doubt remaining regarding the Mother of All Bands was blown away leaving nothing but the pristine sound that was being produced. Slowly I began to return to my chair both in mind and body; fading out the band paused for a lengthy applause before stepping off for set break.
With a sudden recognizable blast the Mother of All Bands took the stage once more, this time shaking the perceptions of listeners with an impressive Pink Floyd medley. A spacier rendition of Young Lust was met with a dyslexic take on The Wall classic as the band opted for a reverse segue into Empty Spaces. Dissolving into Run Like Hell (complete with more Empty Spaces teases) the band brought each patron present back to their self aware youth as they wrapped up the medley with Another Brick In The Wall pt. 2. As I hear a tease of Stevie Wonders’ Higher Ground it gently fades away into a southern rock style jam featuring teases of the Allman Brothers. Looking around I saw a certain confused anticipation as the audience follows each move the band makes trying to decipher the next song; blind to the incoming of a jazzed up version of the Grateful Dead’s Shakedown Street. Silently I sat awaiting the tell-tale sign of a good Shakedown cover: the woo. Now, if you are unfamiliar with “the woo” there is a good chance you fall into one of two categories and should disregard this. You are either A.) Not a fan of the Grateful Dead or B.) Heard many horrible covers. Whether you are aware of “the woo” or not, the band delivers it with confidence and I nod in approval. Before one can gather themselves, a quick and seamless transition into the previously teased Allman Brothers rings out through the bar with MOAB’s gut wrenching version of Whipping Post. Richard James’ vocals on this particular song are not only near impossible to match, but the guitarist’s screaming notes leave a persons jaw agape as each note that wails forth from the amplifier strikes you with decidedly more force than the last. Bringing the blues to the forefront of the song the organ adds a full sound that is difficult to match. With a belly scream the Mother of All Bands moved with a fierce sincerity into the final progression of the evening. A punching solo reaches its climax before the final verse leaves the entire crowd with their heads bobbing and screaming the recognizable chorus “Oh Lord, sometimes I feel like I’m dyin'”. Sometimes I too feel like I am dying, however tonight was most certainly not one of them.