friday was an anxious day for me. i was busy getting things in line, but also very excited. glad to not only be back at red rocks but grateful for another show there.
anticipation was high and opening calls were heard amongst the crowd, and the band opens with a nice help on the way. slipknot is ok, it is a little rushed and doesn't seem to fully get off the ground but they bring it down to a pause of a few seconds, and i was assuming we'd be flying into something other than franklin's and they're off down the golden road. john shreds this one, using different tones than he has been using as of late on this song. mexicali blues caught me by surprise, but it was damn good. weir was sounding good and the band was really meshing together. chimenti slaps away with that ragtime feel over the polka groove and it sounds wonderful. nice little flip of the switch to mama tried. it was slow and lacked "energy" but it was a fun bouncy sing along, and a great/classic pairing to the mexicali. althea is up next, and we heard this soundchecked. this althea is one of most experimental versions this band has done, if not the absolute most. they take a twist and slip an extremely spacey jam inside there, where phil subtly teases around what sounds like bird song. phil steps up to the mic and looks ready to go. let it ride, another unexpected tune (for me). when they start it out someone starts playing masons but quickly aborts and gets on page, i don't know who it was. had me already thinking masons to close the set. let it ride was good. phil sounded strong, and gives a nod to ryan adams. they slip a real nice jam in here, lots of free form improv. sure enough the trains next stop is masons. it is pretty well played, a nice tune to close out the set.
weather report suite to open a 2nd set (especially the final day of summer) is a fantastic choice, however, once again weir botches the prelude. it makes that first minute or so really brutal, and john just slides in (quite literally) and bends those notes so delicately. the crowd finally cheers. let it grow was good, all segments of the jam with their own climax, flowing ever so nicely. dear mr. fantasy is not one of my favorites to hear furthur play but this night they deliver one that reminds me why i love the song. john pours his absolute heart and soul into this one and jeff c's B3 is the perfect complement. during the fantasy, dennis (dfrumv) says "they should play hey jude". sure enough we get the rare jude reprise. crowd energy is extremely high at this point, matching that of the love on stage. i thought i heard them looking for uncle johns band but the jam takes a really interesting and mind bending turn to the other one. lots of jamming around the verses. shakedown street took me by surprise but really got everybody moving. this version seems a little shorter, with the shake it down a little more subtle and short. they bring it out to standing on the moon. weir does a good job. "somewhere in san francisco..." line takes on new meanings this time around. phil takes everyone on a graceful ride and keeps things rolling right into the wheel. his bombs are not as intense as years past for this tune. i thought we had a lot more time left but you could hear phil guiding them back to slipknot. they nail it and they fly into a ripping franklins. the energy explodes and it feels as if the entire crowd is levitating.
u.s. blues to cap off the show and the summer, a very fitting choice. phil had mentioned during the donor rap that red rocks was absolute magic. he was ecstatic, and incredibly animated all night long.
saturday night. always the most highly anticipated night of a 3 night weekend run. we are sitting on the tarp looking around, and it's noticed that john's rig and guitars are in the center of the stage. hmmm..sure enough when the band walks out, john is now in the center. not a huge switch but it is certainly noticable once they are on stage. they open with here comes the sun. it is rough, john struggles a little and the jam section has a few hiccups. it's a fun song and a neat opener, i think their best version of this was the first, sat night best buy 2011. not sure what could come next but cassidy it is. they really give us a run for our money on this one. very tight groove. i hear john tuning up and it sounds like scarlet. i say to myself "scarlet!? already?" and it is! what an awesome placement for this song. they build it up just right and take it 'furthur' into good lovin. everybody was expecting the fire. bob sounds great on the lovin. peaceful valley, 2nd year in a row it is played at red rocks. it is a pretty rare song in general. john substitues cigarette with "fatty" on this night. this is the first time the song is played straightforward. what i mean is, every other time the song's been played, there is an extended improvisational jam tacked onto the backend. this one is ended abruptly, but tastefully. first set mountain song, a treat. pretty well done, sounded like it was played a little quicker, similar to how it was when it was debuted 2 years ago this time. a first set so many roads, another treat! john is soft and sweet with this one, providing a gorgeous tone. "new york to san francisco..." hits the soul harder tonight, kind of like last nights SF line in SOTM. they cap the set with a pretty rockin sugar mag. a killer choice for a first set closer. this set had a lot of "2nd set" material, really gave the show an extra psychadelic feel, and had folks ranting and raving about it during the break
they tune up and really don't give any indication where we're headed, until about 5 seconds before they start, john and bob both make a "playin" like sound, and they take a stab at it. the verses are done proper and they take some serious jumps in the deep end, meandering down several different paths before phil serves up the groove for no more do i. i'm a big fan of this tune, john does a beautiful job with it. "where we're going i can't tell you, somewhere on the other side, driving blind across the border, born to ride, born to ride". they kick things around into a bouncy china>rider. both songs done well but the rider is smokin, it is just relentless attacks from everybody with an excellent display of how dynamics can make a song. phil hints at a dark star and that's exactly where we are headed. they take their time into the first verse vocals, and then really break things down to st. stephen. really great run on the one. they slow it down to unbroken chain. phil starts singing and something sounds wrong, the lyrics he are singing are sung too early. he realizes it, steps back after trying to find his way, and waits for the band to come back around before continuing. it was pretty jarring. you could see he was visibly frustrated, and rightfully so. you don't see phil botch songs like that very often. however, what lacked in the opening vocals, was made up for musically throughout the rest of the song. they let that song have it. it seems to always be that way. a mistake can often trigger a more intense moment to follow. we are flown back to the dark star, but moving at a faster than normal speed. they continue with this and finish the 2nd verse at a much faster tempo/style than usual. first time i've seen that. the fire everyone wanted earlier in the show is thrown in our face. it sounded a little rushed and didn't have that explosive energy it can often provide.
encore was a doozy. morning dew alone was huge but the progession to close out the playin' is just awesome. john sounded great on the dew. there was a brief moment he lost some momentum in the climax solo but he fanned the flames big time right after. worth mentioning: during this nights donor rap, phil mentions there is much more electricity in the air the normal. he was certainly right.
john seemed to really be looking around all night now that he was in the center. weir looked like he was also trying to connect a little more intimately with everybody now that he wasn't in the middle. his playing sounded good and i think it may have something to do with it.
ahh, the matinee show! i'm a huge fan of the day show. today was the warmest day, in the 80's. walking around the lot was just plain uncomfortable, at least for me. we got lucky during the show, clouds covered the sun from beaming down on us all afternoon.
i saw bob pick up the tambourine and assumed we'd get our sunday sermon as i never see him pick it up for anything else. he then walks over to his rig and puts it down there. walks back to the mic without it, back to go get it, then it's hung back on the mic. then he picks it up and they start (of course) samson and delilah. i am still not very into the intro furthur uses but its a fun opener. nothing special, just a fun way to kick it off. john tunes up the jed riff and makes it an easy call. they really hammer this one home. there are two extended solos, before the 3 chord solo change later in the song. one from john and one from jeff, and both are killer! easy wind takes me by surprise but is ever so welcomed. john sounds good, giving the vocals a gritty feel. not quite pig style but influenced by it. getaway is rockin john takes us on a couple really fast and fun rides, roller coaster style. loose lucy is a fun one, bob really digging into it and giving it a great run. the debut of you win again was a let down for me. i'd been rallying to hear this band break it out, but it was not how i imagined. i wanted john vocals, but at the very least, a solo from him. to my recollection, he had no real solo in there. i love operator, and love that phil sings it. really glad they played it, and it sounded much better than a lot of the other versions. for some reason this one usually gives them a little bit of trouble. finally here it is, uncle john's band. had been waiting since night 1 when i heard it teased throughout. we receive a little drizzle of rain, nothing that gets ya wet but enough to feel great. phil and john really bounce back and forth with each other during the ending segment and let us off into setbreak feeling wonderful.
the reuben and cherise opener for this 2nd set was just awesome. would not have called it in a million years and i don't know anyone who would have. sounds great, weirs tone just slightly abrasive for a couple seconds a couple times. you can tell john loves playing this one. feel like a stranger, stranger placement. the transition into it sounded pretty rough but it was picked up quick and played well. another weird choice, alligator. not sure if i ever saw a 2nd set alligator. love this tune though. john gives it that same gritty vocal tone he does with easy wind. they also lay down a very heavy mountain jam tease in this one. cumberland is up next, and again i am surprised with the placement of a song. the intro to eyes gets the entire crowd moving together as one organism, and john steps up the mic and starts singing. huge moment. take that everybody who bitches about phil singing eyes. it was great. the jams between each verse were great too. chimenti with his usual post first verse venture, although he doesn't get as dissonant tonight, but that's okay, it sounds more natural, with far less tension. the outro swirls around and i could have sworn they were queueing up a terrapin suite but they ease into he's gone, and it sets the mood. the highlight is johns solo. he is soft but distinguished with this one. they hit us up with a fierce verse of viola lee, and it gets really spacey. they chop the song down to it's smallest parts, and phil aggressively pushes everybody into caution. bob sounds good and john fans it back to the 2nd verse of viola. a nice sandwich, with a layer of black peter. bob does a decent job. the slide even sounds pretty good. quick 3rd verse of viola and that's game. wowsers. STEAL YOUR FACE
brokedown was expected but i figured we'd get a couple tunes to cap that 3 night run. it was something.
this run of shows was hot. the band sounds great and are just getting in the groove for this tour. what i am really noticing, in addition with the relocation of john, they seem to be doing longer, more experimental jams. there is less of phil stepping up to the mic and guiding them along. also, it seem like john may be getting some input into setlists, or they are just getting extremely creative with them. aside from the steal your face set, the first couple nights had a lot of "misplaced" songs and what i mean by misplaced is first set tunes in the 2nd set and 2nd set tunes in the first set. it's very cool. chimenti is on absolute fire. when he gets going it is clearly hard for him to stop. backup vocals from jeff and sunshine were loud and strong all weekend. i love what they provide to the furthur sound.
a very stellar weekend, i can't wait to hear what they sound like when they roll around shoreline!