The Scene: Halloween might have happened on Thursday, Oct. 31, but it happened again two days later at the Ogden Theatre when The Motet packed the house for a sold-out show that Denver fans come out in droves for every year. While The Motet puts on an annual Halloween rager, this year’s show was focused on the year 1980, and the crowd added to the theme with costumes that shaded the room with every bright color that the 80’s represented. I’d say about 50% of the crowd was in costume, and those that were brought it hard – everything from tutus, neon wigs and big hair, to leggings, leotards, and head-to-toe animal costumes were seen on the dance floor. Even Rainbow Brite and a dude dressed as a construction worker that looked like he popped right out of the “Diet Coke Break” commercials was spotted (that ad came out in 1994, but there were no complaints). As the theater filled up and The Motet came onto the stage, it was hard to find an open spot on the dance floor.
The Motet: The crowd waited until 10:30 for The Motet to come out, and most people had had a few drinks by then and were pressed as close to the stage as possible, ready to get dancing. It was worth the wait, as one of Denver’s favorite dance bands started the night with “Take Your Time,” the first single by The S.O.S. Band, which reached #1 on the R&B singles chart during the summer of 1980. This was a perfect song for Camille Armstrong, who was sitting in with the band in place of Kim Dawson. She killed the song with her powerful vocals and spirited personality onstage. The first set would continue with “Another One Bites the Dust,” an old favorite from English Rock band Queen, Led Zeppelin’s “Fool in the Rain,” which got the crowd roaring with excitement, and “Cruisin’,” a Smokey Robinson single that later found much success when performed by Huey Lewis and Gwyneth Paltrow. The Motet’s version of the song was a groovy one, perfectly suited to the three vocal harmonies from Armstrong, alongside The Motet’s lead singer Jans Ingber and LaDamion Massey. The song also allowed guitarist Ryan Jalbert to shine on unexpected riffs that would complement the softer version of the song we all know and love. There were moments throughout the night when The Motet really did sound like Motown, thanks to smooth, soulful bass playing from Garrett Sayers and the always-entertaining Joey Porter on keys (who is a one-man show in his own right). A funk medley featuring popular songs like “Got to be Enough” and “The Beat Goes On” would leave us hanging on for more, but the band didn’t take too long of a break before set two kicked off with another medley of Funk tunes.
While it was fun to bounce around to Gary Numan’s “Cars” which would lead right into Devo’s “Whip It,” possibly one of the most memorable songs from 1980, the peak of my night would come during the band’s spot-on version of Bob Marley’s “Could You Be Loved,” which reminded us how much Bob Marley’s legend lives on. The song, written almost a year to the date before Marley would pass away, is one of the most revered songs by Reggae legend and The Motet’s version lived up to the hype with a disco-influence that showcased the transitional period between the late 70s and early 80s. As I looked around the theater during this song, everyone was dancing in sync and singing along. I could have listened to The Motet do a whole night of reggae tunes.
The night lasted well into the wee hours of the morning with the crowd sticking around until the final tune of the four-song encore, “Ladies Night.” If you missed The Motet’s Mixtape 1980 Halloween show, which played five dates around Colorado, you certainly missed out! Stay tuned for possible future performances of this legendary night of music. At the very least we are sure some of these tracks will make The Motet’s “Best of Halloween” shows that happen from time to time.
Stage Presence: B+
Set/Light Show: B