My two cents:
These days, with bass player Phil Lesh in his 72nd year of life, things start on the early side. The show was called for 7, and by 7:15, in classic Grateful Dead style, the musicians were on stage and taking a few minutes to make sure their instruments were in tune - this is called ‘noodling’ in technical Dead-speak. A rollicking Aiko Aiko opening set the tone for a fun evening of music, kicking off with Joe Russo setting the Bo Diddley style beat on his drum kit, with Weir playing along on tambourine. First set highlights included a nice Passenger, a hot rendition of the Garcia classic Althea, a gorgeous version of Mission in the Rain (first time played by the band), and a rocking Two Djinn, one of my favorite Ratdog originals. After an hour or so of music, break time! Everybody hydrate!
The second set kicked off with a nice version of Foolish Heart, although I felt the band’s timing was slightly off for the first few songs of set two. Following Foolish Heart Weir stepped up to sing a spunky version of Hard to Handle, the classic Otis Redding tune. The extended jam after the first go round left the band the challenge of regrouping, which I would say they did only semi-successfully. A sweet New Potato Caboose sung by Phil was next, followed by a somewhat lethargic Estimated Prophet that only got going towards the end of the jam. Perhaps the heat was taking its toll!
As Weir himself often has said, there are songs about disaster impending and then there are songs about disaster narrowly averted. The same might be said about shows. This one was at a critical juncture, and it was a question of which way it would go. Thankfully, the closing 45 minutes were spectacular and fun, extremely well played, and certainly worth the price of admission. JK kicked things up a notch with a spirited Scarlet Begonias, which snaked its way into a long and winding jam. I had almost begun to despair of the Fire on the Mountain when Phil suddenly stepped forward and dug into the opening bass riff with abandon. The crowd went wild as a strong Fire, with a great organ jam by Jeff Chimenti, brought the music into the “deadosphere.” Possibly the best played song of the evening followed, a tremendous version of King Solomon’s Marbles. The sweetest Dear Prudence, sung by Bobby with a soaring guitar solo by JK was a moving late show selection. A spirited, albeit slightly short version of Not Fade Away closed the show. Liberty encore was nice, a personal favorite, and Bobby sings it with political conviction.
Over all, a good time had by all. The band is clearly playing well, and if this show wasn’t over the top, the Mission breakout and the great series of tunes with superb playing from the Scarlet to the end of the show made it well worth the trek. Simply said, as long as the band keeps playing, and in my opinion playing very well, I’ll keep going! And that, folks, is a wrap! Thank you for a real good time!