When I got the news that I could write a review for the Motet’s Best of their Halloween shows at my favorite indoor venue in the world, I jumped at the opportunity. Not only was it just their “best of” show, but it was the 7th Anniversary Grand Re-Opening Celebration for the venue that has demonstrated its appeal to the fans of music in many ways. Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom, formerly Casino Cabaret, in Denver’s historic Five Points district celebrated with one of Colorado’s favorite jam bands…the Motet. The venue looked really nice for this re-opening. There was a new paint job that I noticed. There were booths lined up along the sides of the venue with jewelry, gems and crystals, and even extra beer stands for this evening’s events. In addition, painters had their canvases on display along the sides waiting to paint their interpretations of the night’s muse. There was a fun vibe in the air as there usually is here.
The opening band was called Magic Gravy and consists of: Dave Watts (drummer and leader of the Motet), Dan Lebowitz (guitar – ALO), and Garrett Sayers (bass – The Motet). The threesome surely warmed up the crowd as the dance party began. They eased their psychedelic jazz improvisations into a full on dance party as they finished. Lebowitz’s long guitar soloing screamed through the small room, and his performance stood out the most within the first two songs. There was an electronic sound to them, and they teased quite a few songs including “That’s All” by Genesis.
The Motet came out big and hot. The twelve members of this special version of the Motet came onto the small stage and started funky with Tower of Power’s “Squib Cakes” and Michael Jackson’s “Burn This Disco Out.” The horns were powerful and in charge on this night. Special guests Sam Kininger and Ryan Zoidis, most famously from Soulive, on saxophones blew the spirit and power throughout this quickly crowded venue at the start. The band evened things out with “Hooked Up” by Jamiroquai before the place really went crazy for the next songs. It was another Off the Wall song that sent the crowd into a large disco dance party. Jen Durkin, from Deep Banana Blackout and Kim Dawson belted out the falsetto for “Don’t Stop ‘Till You Get Enough.” This was a major highlight of the show for me because the crowd pretty much all at once turned their attention from the stage and toward their dance partner. The party was started and didn’t let down when they went into “Girlfriend is Better” by Talking Heads. Every time I hear this song it reminds me of one of the greatest rock movies ever made Stop Making Sense, which comes from the lyric from this song, “As we get older and stop making sense…” At this point of the show, the giant disco ball was spinning, the band was pumped, and the floor jivin’ with dancers. The Oteil Burbridge style scatting combined with the lock and pop dancing by vocalist Jans Ingber led the charge from Herbie Hancock’s “Spank-A-Lee” into drums. The drum solo gave most of the band members a needed break.
When the band came back they continued the funk with “Ain’t But the One Way” by Sly and the Family Stone, but then slowed it down a bit with “Take Me to the River.” The end of the show was relentless again with the 70’s funk fest. Stevie Wonder’s “You Met Your Match,” Tower of Power’s “What is Hip?” and Sly’s “I Want to Take You Higher” ended the show with positive recognizable songs that the crowd simply ate up. The show was over late. At this point in the show, it was about 1:30am, and the people wanted more. All of the artist’s paintings were finished and looking good. Of course the night ended with Sly’s “Thank You (falletin me be mice elf).” The party was great that Cervantes provided for their anniversary. This venue provides a great room and staff to enjoy a good time of dancing and partying. This is what the band said about the show on their website:
“WOW! We had the time of our lives at this year's "best of Halloween" performance at Cervantes' on January 22nd and 23rd. Big ups to all the players for getting this crazy amount of music together in such a very short amount of time. And even bigger ups the the many hundreds of Motet fans who came out in droves to tear the roof off with us! Special thanks to Jen Durkin, Ryan Zoidis, Sam Kininger, and Dan Lebowitz for flying out and joining the band for these incredible shows.”