By: Lara McCaffrey

Photos By: Rachel Frank

In the wake of Prince’s unexpected death, Unknown Mortal Orchestra (UMO) band leader and guitarist Ruban Nielson was able to lighten the mood Thursday night at the Belly Up in Solana Beach.

UMO’s new album Multilove is funky and thoughtfully composed and the way Nielson and his band translated the songs for a live audience was exciting to listen to. Songs like “Stage or Screen” and “Multilove” transformed with help of extended jam sessions and Nielson’s unique guitar tones created by the pile of pedals at his feet.

Some bands often forget about smoothly transitioning from one song to the next instead get caught up with tuning their instrument or remembering their set list. UMO kept the pace of the show going with light stage banter and beautiful piano solos from keyboardist Quincy McCrary that served as transitional pieces.

UMO’s lively music created a sea of smiles throughout the Belly Up with people bopping to the beat. Audience members sang along to old favorites “So Good at Being in Trouble” and “Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark)” and danced to the encore “Can’t Keep Checking My Phone.”

Losing Prince was devastating and sometimes watching another guitar hero like Ruban Nielson is the only thing that can ease the pain.

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