The ebbs, flows, ripples, and rapids of The River live performances 🏞️

Its hard not to describe this version as extra chilly, as it clearly was on this windy Chicago night. Maybe I have not listened to enough live versions of this song yet, but it seems unusual to me for them to have Ambrose play the looping Brubeck melody on keyboard, rather than its usual place on guitar, this is what they do in the two acoustic versions that exist using the upright piano.
Anyway, they grit their teeth through the intro and lyrics that have a very full sound, to make way for a jam in part 2.
Stu begins with a sharp rendition of one of the normal riffs, that catches on itself and begins chattering and pushing up the pace. As much as the river tends to flow, on this night it was more like skating across ice, unable to find your grip. It just never sits, Joey and Ambrose in particular imbue a certain level of bitterness and Stu puts as much energy into his left-right hopping as his playing while they all swap passages.
They all manage to relax at once, trying to get a few synchronised deep breaths to dispel the shivering and let the song build and swell back up with a bit more of a restrained, jazzy energy.
Suddenly, Stu gets caught in a loop, and begins playing louder. The rest pick up on his urgency and they all start mimicking each other, which quickly freezes over into another intense blast of air.
Something cracks and it all goes away. Leaving just a sparse tundra, fingers so cold all they can do is noodle aimlessly. The structure begins to take on a Dark Star-like Jazz fusion sesh, where each musician seems to be playing their own song, barely aware of how they are all overlapping.
Inevitably, some more lucid strumming starts to align everyone into a brighter, more concentric jam that nearly reaches the exuberance of The Dripping Tap. It all calms and swirls away yet again, and Joey begins searching for The River again: dananananana…
This is usually only a segue into part 3, but even this is extended out into a grand Pink Floyd-esque moment before the Brubeck Pattern well and truly comes back in, on guitar this time. ‘Yeeaaaaahh’.
Back into the verse, and things have warmed up significantly since part 1, allowing a bit of groove to seep in. We reach the end of the lyrics (down dowwn), but it just keeps going down, deeper and darker until the Wah Wah teases begin. For a second it seems the whole band is ready to transition into that song, but we get a classic false ending instead. The crowd give a polite applause as though they know what is about to happen, and of course it launches into a big part 4.
The ice is truly broken, as little hints of fuzzy-psych warmth show up for some of ‘trust in the river’.
The length is kept normal, and we get a cathartic, succinct ending.