Words By: Brian Lynch
Photos by: Dino Perucci
reCAP :: Phil Lesh & Friends :: 2014.04.05
Apr 07 / Monday
Phil Lesh and his friends have really presented The Capitol Theatre audiences with some very unique shows for the first three nights of their initial residency for 2014. The residency has included diverse covers of songs by artists like Big Mama Thorton, Nine Inch Nails, Ryan Adams, The Band, Pete Seeger and Marvin Gaye. The expectation from everyone in attendance was another amazing evening of surprises.
The show opened with Phil assuming lead vocals on Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo. The staggered choruses were followed by a beautiful lead from Larry Campbell. The show was off and running and the audience locked in. The traditional Scottish folk song Fennario (or Peggy-O as Grateful Dead fans often call the tune) showed us Phil, Teresa Williams and Larry taking turns singing lead on the verses. Teresa’s voice was angelic as she sang “I will marry you sweet William-O..). Larry countered with the male question lyrics and Teresa would answer with the female answer lyrics. Larry played a lilting acoustic guitar solo into a Jeff Chimenti piano lead. The final vocal harmonies delivered the song so nicely.
This residency allowed the audiences to be exposed to the many talents of Larry Campbell especially. He showcased himself on multiple string instruments for the entire run. The audience was treated to Larry on the cittern for Crazy Fingers. John Kadlecik sang a faithful take on this song. Boyd Tinsley (of Dave Matthews Band fame) played violin for the first time in this show and the sound of his instrument made a truly elegant song even more stunning.
Phil and Teresa alternated singing lines during the Ryan Adams song When Stars Go Blue. Jeff layered delicate piano and Larry strummed his cittern for a very satisfying song. The outro jam showed JK and Phil both jamming away trading licks and the band was in the pocket right there for the ride. Cosmic Charlie got the already excited audience jumping and hollering. Joe Russo was twirling his right drumstick in between beats while just killing it on his minimalist drum kit. Larry played slide guitar lead and everyone was beaming by now.
Phil sang American Beauty’s Operator and the spirit of Pigpen was alive and well in the room. Larry played a very tasty mandolin blanketing the song. A rollicking Bertha closed out the ~70 minute first set. As expected the room exploded into dance as JK growled out the first few lines with passion and brought it all home.
The animation from the Grateful Dead movie was shown on the walls between sets as a real treat for all there. The walls of the Cap were alive with Gary Gutierrez’s masterpiece dancing across the walls.
The band came out and launched into Passenger to open the second set. Larry and Teresa harmonized the song together. JK’s tone on his guitar just snarled on the power chords. This song is where I felt the X factor really kick in for the first time. They rocked this song hard, Jeff played aggressive organ, JK and Larry both wailing away, Phil and Joe laying down the foundation and smiling at each other when they were all in the zone. The room was throbbing. Without missing a beat the band dives head first into Shakedown Street and the dancing in the room is in overdrive.
Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning is the true showcase for Teresa this evening. She slays this tune tonight. Phil is delivering melodic bass here while Teresa captivates the crowd. Larry goes back to the cittern. Teresa ends the vocals holding extended vocal notes, leaving nothing behind but her best! Mountains of the Moon is directly next with Teresa singing a heavenly vocal. Boyd is laying the smooth sound while Joe uses brushes to soften the sound so sweetly. Phil takes the lead on the transition here right into….
Fire on the Mountain! …which again sends the crowd into an explosive dancing frenzy. Joe and Phil again achieve X factor as JK delivers the leads on vocal and guitar. Eyes of the World has the entire room singing along and everyone is smiling ear to ear. It is dawning on people that this is an exceptional show, set and setlist by now.
Unbroken Chain gives us a great jam with Larry showing his soloing prowess. Joe just goes off behind the drums throughout the jamming. We are in hyperdrive now as the jam out of Unbroken Chain is straight up Rock and Roll. Uncle John’s Band has the entire audience singing along. Larry is on mandolin and Boyd is back and the essence of the original UJB comes to life. The second set ends and everyone takes a collective deep breath and regroups.
Phil reminds everyone during his organ donor rap about the tremendous gift of life Cody gave him. The encore blows everyone’s mind as they launch into Morning Dew. Jerry would have loved to see this ensemble staying true to the cause. Larry delivers another spectacular lead. As Morning Dew ends, people turn around and start heading for the exits as we are already past Midnight and all assume the show is fantastic and over. Phil pulls one more rabbit out of his hat and delivers a double encore and they close out with Box of Rain and everyone is ecstatic about the double song encore. Boyd layers his violin over the opening music and all are delighted. Such a long long time to be gone and a short time to be there indeed. Phil introduced the band, thanked the audience and said “We hope to see you here next week with a slightly different lineup…God bless you all..May the four winds blow you safely home”.
As the audience was leaving the theater after an epic second set, many remarked that their favorite tune was played tonight. Phil went to the Dead fan favorites for this run’s closer and brought it all home.
The Capitol Theatre Photo Gallery
Photos by: Dino Perucci
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