Vocals solid all night…thank you Sunshine and Jeff for adding so much to this band!
Phil, the best bass player in our solar system, looked odd in a short sleeved shirt, but sort of cute, like a kid. Just not what I’m used to seeing.
Jeff is my favorite keyboard player of all the guys who have played with Bob and Phil. Let’s pray that his life expectancy is much better than the beloved deceased tinklers. He is on the hot seat. I believe he is another one chosen to keep this music alive into future generations. I think Jerry would have loved the Jeff’s jazzy jamming.
Bob’s vocals were solid all night. His guitar sound was another matter. Let me preface this by saying that I am a huge Bob fan. Back in the 70’s and 80’s I was as much a fan of Bob as I was of Jerry, sometimes even more than Jerry, and I once lit a cigarette for Jerry Garcia. I especially liked Bob’s rhythm guitar playing, when you could hear him. But last night his tone really started to distract and annoy me. It was too loud for his high end tone…literally hurting my ears, and my high end hearing is pretty shot (if I told you all that went down…)…so I wonder what it was like for you youngsters who still have two good ears. I think the problem is that Bob’ s ears are pretty much burned right off. He said he lost most of the hearing in one ear, permanently, way back at Monterey Pop, jamming with Jimi Hendrix (off stage). And then you factor in all the years on stage sandwiched in between a million cymbals, nuclear feedback, Jerry’s ear splitting JBLs and Phils Alembic through 18s…it’s a wonder he can hear at all. Love you Bobby, regardless, but maybe have some one whose taste you trust adjust your rig for you…I am one of the people who kept asking for more Weir guitar volume and resented Dan Healy for keeping you out of the mix.
Loved seeing Saint John center stage (he IS a saint). It’s like Phil and Bob are passing the baton onto John…and deservedly so…he knows and performs this music so well.
I really wasn’t bothered by talkers the whole time…that was nice.
OK, Casey Jones…not one of my favorite tunes until I heard it at Stephen’s auditorium in November 2010 (Ames Iowa) archive.org/details/furthur2010-11-09.se...honey.111696.flac16. That place was a modern hall, designed for great acoustics, and the sound was incredibly clear…probably the standard I use for rating sound quality at shows. But that version was my favorite.
Last night’s version was very good, but the tempo acceleration at the end of the song did not sustain as long. At the Ames show they kept increasing the tempo and the audience energy kept increasing until it seemed the roof would blow off…I’ll never forget that one. Burt may chime in and confirm this. I didn’t see it, but he said Phil’s knees were knocking together.
Besides sound quality, audience energy was perhaps the biggest difference. The energy was not there in San Diego…so I think it’s true that the band can only take it as high as the audience can take it.
During set break I walked around and found the venue lacking…poorly designed for space…hardly any room outside the seat section. Outdoors and security was cracking down on cigarette smoking. Huge difference between So Cal and Northern Cal.
Aiko Aiko to start the second set, not on my “A” list, but a fun dancer. I heard the Bo Diddley rhythm and was hoping for NFA.
Second set second song is Estimated. I love this song but I got spoiled by darkly lysergic versions when it was introduced. Just not the same vibe. Disappointing because of the huge potential this odd time Weir masterpiece has.
Dear Mr. Fantasy, a song I love, but always preferred the Steve Winwood version for both vocals and guitar. Love what Jeff does on this song…really reminding me of Traffic. John’s vocal interpretation is really significant though, and shed new light into the song for me…not specifically last night, but in general. The idea that the star, “Mr. Fantasy,” had the burden of making the listener happy. “You are the one…make it snappy.” How ironic for a slow rocker. And even more poignant that John is supposed to fill Jerry’s shoes and all the haters calling him fake Jerry. John is Mr. Fantasy…so glad he sings it. John’s take seems much different from Winwood’s sweeter version.
Now I thought I heard a lot of teases last night. I really enjoyed the jam in Fantasy, especially Phil, he seemed to kick it up a notch. I thought he teased the classic bass line from Traffic’s “Gimme Some Lovin,’” towards the end of the jam. But they went into old school Dead, New Potato Caboose, with its complicated DMT holy harmonies well sung.
Heard the Dark Star tease and they launched into a lengthy, one verse, Dark Star, with a long jam before Phil started the singing, followed by John, and then Bob. It almost seemed like they had left the song and were going to leave it as a jam version only with no vocals. The jam didn’t really go anywhere and I can’t help compare it to the “Live Dead” version, dripping with acid. Last nights version didn’t seem very psychedelic, maybe it was because I was not psychedelicized. Got to get one more DS in the next three shows, right?
Then Caution, with Phil’s chromatic bass lines, more old school psychedelic Dead. They did go on for a long time before Bob started “Well I went down…. to see a gypsy woman…” I love this song. It’s text book example of the best tension and release style of rock music that these journeyman musicians are so good at. Like sex, they build and build the tension until the orgasmic release…and then do it again…and again…and again. Talk about multiple orgasms! I just had to raise my hands every time they did it last night.
Then into Eyes, with some of the best Hunter lyrics ever. John singing it for the second time. Had to sing along. As much as I adore Phil, I got to say, Keep Letting John Sing! Nice version. Only disappointment is I keep hoping for a Phil bass solo, as he can do, but no luck.
Then Dear Prudence. A real highlight of the show for me. My fave Beatle cover, except for Tomorrow Never Knows, but usually Dear Prudence is better executed. This was a very, very good version. I moved down from behind the sound board just behind the triple D section, close to the stage. Bob came alive! I thought his vocals were solid all night…but it seemed he really got into this Dear Prudence. Towards the end Phil tried to end it, but it seemed Bob wanted to keep going. Phil pointed forcefully to the stage once looking at Bob, but Bob didn’t seem to get it. Phil gestured again…I thought he was pointing to the set list, like he wanted to move into the next song. I wasn’t expecting the second set to end on Dear Prudence. But Burt said he was pointing at the clock…like there wasn’t enough time. Probably Bob was preparing to go into At a Siding/Terrapin Flyer. Phil appeared frustrated. Bob made a sign to his head, like,” OK, my bad,” once he realized what Phil was communicating, and waved to the crowd before leaving the stage.
Loved the encore, not what I was expecting. Joe pounded the shit out of those drums, as he can do. Power drumming at its best. Terrapin Flyer is my favorite part…it has so much potential to build energy to the atomic level if they repeat it over and over and the crowd responds, so as much as I love it, I am a little disappointed when they end it quickly, like last night, but really the crowd energy was not there, so perhaps there was no point. How high they take it is a collective responsibility, and we the fans were not holding up our end of the energy equation. And actually John was looking at Bob preparing to end it, and Bob shook his head, “No,” and they cycled one of Jerry’s most sophisticated chord progressions one more time.
Well that’s it, right?…no…Ripple! Another one of Hunter’s best writings, IMO. Very sweet and satisfying completion of the concert. I was so glad we did not get Touch of Grey or U.S. Blues, which I don’t care for, especially to end it.
Just my opinions, based on memory.