Phil & Friends are playing the second show of a brand spanking new Fall Tour tonight in Berzerkeley, Northern California. I think they're gonna be on the road right up through Halloweeny time, finishing things up well into November in Times Square. And why they're playing like 13 shows rather than maybe a 2 or 3 night stand at good ol' Madison Square Garden or maybe 1 at MSG, 1 in the Meadowlands and perhaps 1 on Long Island, I do not know. Makes no sense to me. The intimate atmosphere inside the [corporately named] Theater might make up for that.
Anyway... I'll be hitting their shows here in Alaska. Oh wait. Nope, he's not coming up here. Maybe next lifetime, eh, Phil? Yup, there are tradeoffs of living in The Last Frontier. I've swapped a show-less life over the past several years since coming up here, for some of the greatest territory in North America... and a whole lot less suburban sprawl and overall disgusting hectic crazy commercialized crapness that the Lower 48 has overwhelmingly become and is further disintigrating into. Yay America. Ahh well. I still do love my country, very much so, even more than I hate it.
In any case, (even though it seems they're not coming up here any time this century) I've chosen to honor the start of the tour by also going to Berzerkeley tonight. Sort of. Technically I decided on this Dead date about a week ago before I realized tonight was the P&F show at the William Randolph Hearst Greek Theatre... so this is actually coincidental.
Shall we go, you and I while we can...
Berkeley Community Theatre
Bertha, One More Saturday Night -»
Sugaree, It's All Over Now,
Row Jimmy, Let It Grow
China Cat Sunflower -» Cumberland Blues,
I Need A Miracle -» Eyes Of The World -»
Drums, Space* -» The Other One* -»
The Wheel -» Sugar Magnolia
It's All Over Now Baby Blue
* with very special guest...
Out of the chute they stomped through a rockin' and rollin' Bertha. I hate to do this but I've gotta mention that there was one minor blown lyric in there from Jerry but other than that, this was 99.9% a crowd pleaser to get things started. Mmmm. There was no segue into the next song but at Bertha's end, they clearly had the decision made to immediately launch, or everyone acted lickedly split as Bobby told them -- One More Saturday Night. What? What? Let me repeat myself: What? Bertha, One More Saturday Night? Not normal and very cool! Checking the stats & stuff afterwards, they've played Bertha close to 300 times up until this point and this was the first ever with Saturday Night following. So what. So what? No, it's not that big of a deal but I dig setlist anomolies like that, a small part of what made this band so dang interesting.
Sugaree slowed things down a bit and again here's a case where there's one minor lyric flub but the song is still played so nicely. Jerry's guitar work isn't on fire by any means but he's front and center at all the right times. Everyone together is playing in perfect unison. Ahhhh, what a sweet three song start to this show.
To close the first set, Let It Grow really gets smokin'. I got into such a groove as the band did. Brent & Phil were both really wailin' away, quite noticeable for the first time in this recording. Just freakin' excellent perfectamundo delicious so sweet!
Set 2 starts off routinely enough, a nice China Cat Sunflower winds its way down and into... and this is why it kind of stinks to know setlists ahead of time 'cause when they don't go into I Know You Rider, hey, that's interesting and different. Tonight -- wow. China->Rider? Nope! China->Cumberland! What?!? Again a little more fact checking and up to this point, after something like 400 China Cat Sunflowers, this is the very first China->Cumberland. It wasn't the smoothest transition in the world, happened rather quickly. If the rest of the band had no idea, they clearly heard Jerry starting up the first notes of Cumberland, for whatever reason, and immediately followed. Now this wasn't the most monumental happening in the history of Dead setlists, but the crowd seemed a little stunned. Happy but making sure this wasn't a dream. Miracle woke 'em up, that's for sure, 'cause it was time to turn the dance speed up a notch or three. Then Eyes was just icing on the cake. I can make split second life-saving medical decisions in my wandered into profession, but I can't choose a favorite Grateful Dead song... but Eyes just might be it. Even though I knew it was coming, and even though this is the 2nd time I'm listening to this show in a few days time, Eyes brought the biggest smile to my face so far A few lines partially messed up, again, but thankfully, for me, that barely diminished the greatness here. The jam at the end almost feels like they're exploring somewhere else to go with the song, into another tune maybe, but they melt it down and Mickey & Billy take over.
After the Rhythm Devils are out of the spotlight, the other guys come out along with a very Special Guest, one Mr. Merl Saunders. (If you listen carefully at the begining of Space, you can hear someone in the crowd yell out his name. Thanks, Spotter Dude!) Deadbase IX says that in Space they do a Twilight Zone theme. Do they? All I hear is Space and what sounds like Hollyweird sound effects guys tweaking noises to use in sci-fi film production... but maybe elements of the Merl & The Dead's collaboration on that theme music is indeed in there.
Eventually they launch into The Other One, also with Merl on keyboards. He was more prevalent and relevant than Brent was. With his improvised notes perfectly placed it was pretty cool what he added to the song. Unfortunately it was a measly under 5 minute version which is just soooo too bad. Man, I don't wanna dwell on the "What if" but What if they'd gone longer with Merl out there, 10 minutes, even 12 or 15? Damn! Oh well. Off the stage he went and Merl's third and last live guest appearance with the boys was recorded history. Was nice while it lasted... and nice still even today!
The rest of the set closes out nicely enough, on a nice high all the way through. To wrap the whole sucker up, a nice slow Jerry encore, leaving the crowd with a nice feeling of "Ahhhhhh."
Wow. On the grand scale of things, hardly a bad show, hardly even an average show. An interesting night to say the least, and with Merl! and some nicely played tunes.
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Minor hiss heard only during D/S and between a few songs.
I wish it was a soundboard but then again, because it's an Aud,
you can, if you wish, get a better feeling of being there which sbd's,
as gorgeous as they most often sound, don't allow that.
downloading and/or listening...