After all my years seeing this band, i thought my top 10 list was all set, however the Masonic show just bumped a few off my list.
A combination of small venue, good friends, and a great setlist would have been more than enough to make it fun. But there was so much more to last nights show.
Every member of the band was working full tilt on every song they did. It was energetic, creative and downright fun.
When they opened with Playin, I was a little concerned that it was going to be Bobby's show and was expecting the usual, however when they went into Bertha and JK not only sang the song, but directed the band, you could see a difference on stage. They were working as a band that was excited to be playing. After Miss 1/2 Step and Promised Land, the roof had been effectively blown off the hall, and that could have been the peak, but no it just kept getting better. It has been a long time since I have seen so much energy put into each song in a set list. The Unbroken Chain jam just went crazy and when Golden Road appeared, I was thinking last song, and then Viola appeared. My head is still spinning
Playin’ in the Band
Let It Grow
Viola Lee Blues
Deep Elem Blues
Playin In The Band
Mississippi Half Step (JK w/BW on 'Rio Grand-eo verse')
The Other One>
Let It Grow
Golden Road to Unlimited Devotion (JK)
Viola Lee Blues (BW&PL)
E: Deep Elem Blues (BW & JK)
It is true what people have been saying about this being a different band than the one we saw at the Fox in Oakland--which makes pretty obvious sense, since they hadn't yet hatched as a band by that point. It's safe to say they are hatching now--they are beginning gel as a band and that is a pretty cool thing to see.
The Playin started out the show in a serious note--it was a muscular Playin, despite it being a show opener. John played some really beautiful passages off of Weir and Lesh. The Bertha with John singing was great. His vocals were really energized had a nice solo. The Half Step sung by John kept the energy going full bore. John seemed to look at Weir during the Bertha and 1/2 step at the beginning of each verse ready and willing for him to jump on any of them but Weir stayed back, playing some nice guitar--he even had a great solo later on!
John took the fist Half Step solo and it was really beautiful. Very melodic, gorgeous even, like something out of 77. Chementi took the 2nd solo and did some nice stuff. Weir did the echo thing on the choruses (I always loved when he echoed Garcia's "one more time!" on Stella starting in '94 and while this is much more impactful, I think it's classic Weir and don't mind it. He then took the "Across the Rio Grandio" verse--and it was very clear to me, at that point, how much the Garcia/Hunter material means to him. Of course we know this on an intellectual level but when your stand in front of the guy in a room and see it--it's undeniable. Then John brought the house down with the ending 1/2 Step solo (his second).
I didn't think they would be able to keep that energy going, but they actually managed to do it for one more song, when Phil started Promised. That four pack to open was quite a way to open the show considering how well it was played and seemed like it was gasping for air.
The Cryptical was sung by Phil and it moved into the first verse of Other one which moved into some really interesting territory--like John was teasing a Cryptical like jam but then this nicely constructed jam moved into the second verse of Other One, where Bob did his delay between lines thing and John began just shredding some leads with Phil on him every second.
Then the Chain started...and on one had it was nice cause it's a beautiful song but on the other, it was a let down cause it was clear this was going to be the ballad. How have they played so many shows while only playing two of the post space ballads? Phil singing was beautiful on this and his playing with John and Weir was really good. John's solo at the end of the Chain was seriously good. Then they start this jam towards the end of Chain that built up to something else entirely, to the point where John takes ANOTHER solo and this one was also a good one.
Then Weir started Grow, which was monster. At one point on this, John was playing some funky ass rhythm along with his leads and it just got a little crazy with Phil's eyes bugging out a little while playing some serious bass.
They built the Golden Road, sung by John, to a nice climax. I actually don't really like this song. For some reason, I'm not crazy about some of the earlier material like this, but for someone who likes this, they must have liked this version. The band seemed to be loving it. The Viola Lee had Bob and Phil taking the vocals and the closing VL jam had John and Phil doing some serious stuff and the house was officially brought down.
The Deep Elem had Weir take the first verse, John the second and switch off like that with Weir taking the last verse (the 5th).
These guys are going to do some special stuff on the big tour in Feb cause they are doing some special stuff now.
As for the ballads, the world still wants to know who's going to take them. I know in my gut that John is going to sing Stella (if they do Stella)... but as for the others--it's up in the air. Dew is the big one and those versus will probably be shared.
It's clear that they are going to do a 3rd set of Floyd stuff for NYE--mostly from DSOTM and some other things Phil likes to do like Whish You Were Here. That's why they have the back up singers. Don't really know what to say about that.
>>>>After all my years seeing this band, i thought my top 10 list was all set, however the Masonic show just bumped a few off my list.
you have been seeing Furthur for years? I thought they were a new band, with just a few gigs under their belt.
Thanks for the reviews. Nice to hear they are getting better. Looking forward to tomorrow night. Still on the fence for NYE. We'll see how tomorrow goes.
Ripplein can move forward & back in time. He's lucky that way.
Real nice reviews, thanks for the effort.
I will add in my two cents that I'm beginning to agree with those that feel the lead guitar isn't "out front" enough. I have no issues with WHAT he's playing; I think most of his ideas are good, he plays many subtle and crafty little passages that work and he can rock too, but somehow there is a slight lack of boldness, like he just doesn't feel it's his place to step in front of anyone.
And I don't feel that Bob and/or Phil is "holding him back". He's playing his parts and soloing, and I think almost all of it has been good. It's just a bit too soft at times and too blended into the overall sound, which isn't a bad thing, but sometimes the lead just needs to step up and RIP with both volume and emotion.
Whether it's a volume thing or an attitude thing, I think he's shown that he has the skills to do this job well. Now he just needs to muscle up, grab the band and say, "THIS way fella's."
I don't think Bob or Phil would mind, and I know none of us would.
>>I thought they were a new band, with just a few gigs under their belt.
Geez and I thought this was another part of the Grateful Dead experience.
GREAT comments by Ripplein, Mrferlina, and Lance. I absolutely loved this night and felt so blessed to be there with such good friends and a band that seems to be coming into their own.
I am with Lance, it is time for John to cut loose. I guess that is easy for all of us to say, after all, we are not "living the life" and I imagine there are challenges personally and professionally to being in such a spot as a musician. With all that said, as Lance said - it is not Bob or Phil who is holding John back, so John - we love ya buddy, let's cut it loose!
"It's clear that they are going to do a 3rd set of Floyd stuff for NYE--mostly from DSOTM and some other things Phil likes to do like Whish You Were Here. That's why they have the back up singers. Don't really know what to say about that."
How is this "clear"?!
no its not