The only thing that fans of the band Moe. knew upon entering the groups’ Halloween concert at the Tower Theatre was that the theme was The Wizard of Oz.
So it wasn’t out of the ordinary when the band entered the auditorium from the back dressed as characters from the movie.
Bassist and vocalist Rob Derhak dressed as the cowardly lion, guitarist Al Schnier as Dorothy, guitarist Chuck Garvey as the Tin Man, drummer Vinnie Amico as the Scarecrow and percussionist Jim Loughlin as the Wicked Witch.
It wasn’t strange when the Buffalo, NY, band took the stage and started the show with “Somewhere over the Rainbow.”
Nobody was shocked when The Wizard of Oz appeared on the two big screens behind the band. But when the credits started to roll and the MGM Lion made his appearance what happened next was a surprise that turned the show from a musical experience into a musical event.
Moe. launched into “Speak to Me” from Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. The band played the album front to back in time to the movie being projected behind them.
For those who don’t know, when you start Dark Side of the Moon after the MGM lion roars for the second time in the credits for The Wizard of Oz the soundtrack is in sync with the movie. There are several “coincidences.” For instance, the second Dorothy opens the door and the movie turns to color, the cash registers from the song “Money” chime.
By the time the group started “Breath in the Air,” the second song on the album, everyone knew that this would be a great show.
Saxophone player Adam Ash appeared on a few songs dressed as one of the wicked witch’s flying monkeys. He added to songs like “Great Gig in the Sky,” and added texture to the surreal works of Pink Floyd.
Philadelphia native Nancy Falkow added vocals to “Great Gig in the Sky” dressed as the princess from the movie.
After taking the fans in the packed theater through their own yellow brick road while playing Dark Side, the band started a second set of originals with “Plane Crash.”
At times the band’s jams ran too long. Moe. does a great job of making their jams into a story and sticking to the stories, but sometimes the intense jams retell the same line of the story into oblivion.
The highlight of the second set was the last two songs. The band played the song “Moth” and put bass teases for the song “Meat” into it.
From “Moth,” Moe. jammed perfectly into “Meat.” In the middle of “Meat,” Amico intervened with a drum solo and then Derhak and Loughlin had a bass duel. The guitars came back and the band finished the set with the end of “Meat.”
After a two-song encore, the band aptly ended the night with a rendition of “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” from the Oz. Joined on stage by volunteers who dressed as munchkins for the show, it was a great end to a memorable show.