Phil Lesh and Friends just wrapped up a successful East Coast run. Rock 'n Roll is alive and well biased on the quality of the musicianship of the Friends. Jackie Greene is a bonafided rock star. Very reminiscent of Bob Weir 72-74. Joe Russo is a golden drumming God similar to Billy Kreutzmann in those same solo years. Adam MacDougall was not afraid to push the limit through his keyboard weirdness. Then of course there is the perfect playing of John Kadlecik.
The Jackie Greene energy, really adds punch to the shorter songs like "Cold Rain" and "Tom Thumbs." Actually "Tom Thumbs" was so popped up it reminded me of My Chemical Romance's version of "Desolation Row." Phil was so fired up that he changed a line of the song, "And leaves you howling at the JACKIE."
Phil played 10 shows on this East Coast run, over that time he played 1 album, 114 songs and only repeated 54 of those songs. Phil really pushes his Friends and challenges them on and off stage to play the full Dead catalogue. And between Furthur and The Friends, Phil has played over a 170 shows this year. That is mostly thanks to his home venue Terrapin Crossroads. For those of you that think the 72 year is slowing down the most shows the Grateful Dead ever played is 145 in 1970, when Lesh was 30. I'm pretty sure he'll be playing in his 90's. With kickass friends like Jackie Greene, he might go into triple digits.
Click HERE to view all the concerts that Phil and Friends played this tour. I do suggest the tour closer of 11/18, because as Phil said through a shit eating grin, "I think we left you with a good one."
I can't describe how happy I was to see the band open with "Jack Straw." The "Jack Straw from Wichita" break served as the perfect conduit to extract my pent up Grateful Dead energy. "Yeah!" I screamed as Jackie singing along. Listening to "tapes" is like substance but nothing can truly capture the live performance as being under the crushing sound of the speakers of a live show. (It's funny because HDTV has taken a lot of the drive out of going to a lot of sporting events.) Sometimes it takes half the show before that emotion comes out, in a song like "Other One" or "Terrapin," but it does boil over and come out at some point. If it didn't why would some go to so many shows.
Pre show rituals vary. Some hit the bar, some hit the lot, some meander and others are looking, but on some level we are all there for the music. Entering a GA venue, everyone tries to scope out a spot for them and their buds. We got a great spot in the Phil Zone, as you can see from the pictures perspective, where despite our proximity to the stage we were not in a very crowded area. No need for the band to tell us to "Take a step back, and another step back."
Through the show there is same question asked, "What is this?" "Sounds like The Wheel." "It could be Sunshine." "I still think it will be Eyes." Then when they actually start everyone smiles because wrong or right we are all excited to hear this song.
Then there are the left field calls. One of my friends asked me durning the Grateful Dead night out at the movies, "Is it me or Brent a little loud in the mix?" I looked at him like he had eight heads. "Brent is never too loud, what do think he's Donna." In an effort to prove my point I bought him a "Just a little sweetness, just a little light" Brent Mydland T-shirt. He was wearing it Sunday when Phil busted out "Just a Little Light" as he exposed it to me under his shirt and just laughed.
We all love these shows. Some say that they are keeping Jerry's spirit alive but I think that they are keeping OUR spirit alive. We need these shows to feel the blood in out veins and the love in our hearts. We might stand there saying "Dew Me. Dew Me" so when we "Walk me out," we are were we need to be, whether it is Phil or Ratdog, Dark Star or Furthur. "It doesn't matter anyway."
Last night, Bobby in his weekly WeirHere show from TRI, passed on my question. Speaking of Weir Here and Weir Everywhere, here is a great article from the New Yorker, and it hints at the next show I'll feature.