New tour, lots of shows, lots of Audience recordings, which one is best? Frankly, I didn't care all that much. I did, kinda... sorta. I really dug the three shows in New York City back on March 30th and I eagerly waited for Dave to introduce them on The Late Show last night, but of the shows from the new tour, I've not sought out a single Audience recording to listen to. I'm not going to any shows and so my excitement hasn't been there in any large amount. I am glad they are touring, though. It's what they love to do! And enough fans are willing to pay the absolutely insane cost of seeing them. While I might not be experiencing it, the excitement is there.
While I haven't yet wanted to listen to the Auds (after figuring out which one sounds the best for each show considering there are numerous sources) I am kind of hungry for the Soundboards! And so here we go with Installment Numero Uno!
Greensboro, North Carolina
The Music Never Stopped-»
Touch Of Grey
Jam-» Shakedown Street-»
All Along The Watchtower-»
Caution (Do Not Stop On The Tracks)-»
Space-» Drums-» Space-»
New Potato Caboose-»
Help On The Way-» Slipknot-» Franklin's Tower
Encore: Samson and Delilah
Upon first listen of this show, the first set really didn't do that much for me. Upon second listen I'm a little more impressed. Music Never Stopped wasn't the best tour opener, maybe metaphorically speaking, but it felt a little tired. One thing that struck me is how the "they're a band beyond description" line doesn't ring as true as it used to. This is a band beyond description, almost. They play the Grateful Dead and they jam and they like it... so it can be described. But they're not the Grateful Dead at all. Or are they? That's sacrilegious to some but when you think about, many bands lose members and get new ones and they go on under the same name. That's about what's happening here. Anyway, Music hits a nice crescendo and the crowd approves!
As the opening notes of Jack Straw become recognizable, I began to ponder yet again: was Bruce Hornsby asked to join the band? If not, why not? If so, why'd he decline? What a shame. I hate saying this because Ratdog keyboardist Jeff Chimenti is nice but Bruuuuuuuce really woulda made this song truly come alive the way it should. I'd definitely prefer hearing him singing this alongside Bob. '98 was Hornsby's only year with this band, right? Well, that was with The Other Ones and he never did The Dead, if I'm not mistaken. That's a shame. He'd a-been perfect here! But Jeff's not bad and the song picks up plenty of steam. If Music was a little tired, Jack Straw is demonstrating these guys are happy and eager to be playing this music!
Estimated in the third song slot? Huh? Odd but it gets on a nice roll with Phil not leading the way but he's really into it. Warren plays respectfully, never pretending to be Jerry and never exactly hitting auto-pilot as Jerry did so many times when this song hit jamland. If anyone's on auto-pilot, it's Phillip!
As we quickly close in on 15 years A.J. (After Jerry) He's Gone doesn't negatively affect me as it would have a decade ago. I really love Bobby here and wouldn't ya know it, the "Nothing left to do but smile, smile, smile" line just got me choked up. You can hear Phil join in at that exact moment and it's so perfect... or at least perfect right then; overall it's nice and I can get lost in it, especially the end when they really work the crowd into a bit of a frenzy.
Touch has about the weirdest placement of all. I love Bob singing this. It's one of the earliest Jerry songs he broke out with Ratdog. The drummers this whole show so far are exceptionally masterful and Phil is really, once again, completely barreling through the tune while Warren plays nicely along. Warren takes a verse and this version, while mucho GD-like, is beautiful in my opinion -- one of the bestest wonderfulest Jerry tributes there is.
Absolutely the crowd favorite of the first set is Truckin'. I laughed at the thought that here's probably the most popular Grateful Dead in the history of Grateful Dead music, but the crowd still still still loves it sooooooo much... and so do I!! Last thing I wanna do is use the lame old cliché but yes, it has been a long, strange trip and Jerry's a long time gone but I'm really glad we're still hearing these guys play music together! With age they can still play great music but they might get a little tired quicker than they used to. On the soundboard you can hear Phil yell out "REST TIME" and they soon wrap it up and head off stage. "Just exactly like a Swiss watch. We'll be back in just a little bit." Just exactly, Bob!
What song is coming, what song is coming? What's going to kick off Set 2? Of course I knew and you know but those in attendance surely had no clue. Tuning then plenty of really fun Jamming makes up the first seven plus minutes of Track 1 before an abrupt left turn signals the start of Shakedown Street... and the crowd goes nuts! They are out of the gate with a fire under their ass, I tell ya what? Warren is clearly channeling the vocal stylings of Brent Mydland, so much so that it's almost eerie. Jeff had some nice playing in the first set but he gets a great spot to shine here and the rest sure did Phil some good because he's just once again plowing a path with that bass of his. There is some absolutely exceptional jamming going on! I like this a lot and I couldn't ask for a better Set 2 opener!
Watchtower! Without Bobby Rockstar on vocals? Hmmm. Interesting. I like it! Warren's playing here is wonderful, blistering at times; this not being a Grateful Dead original, he can really truly be himself here without worrying about stepping on Jerry. And I've got to say, not that I dislike or am tired of Bob's (Weir's) Watchtower, his not leading the way makes this a nice change of pace.
Oh yeah, drive that Caution, Phil! Wow. Wow, wow, wow. Here lies the jammiest part of the night. This is so sweet. Not a note out of place. The way Chimenti fills in is luscious. Mickey & Billy help Phil drive while Warren and Bob give this an incredible 1960's feel. If earlier Warren was channeling Brent, here he's clearly channeling Pigpen. Going into listening to this show, I was idiotically leaning toward not being able to fully enjoy it -- how could it possibly be that great? Half these guys are old enough to be in a nursing home! How moronic was that thinking?! This is awesome!!!!!
No real Drums-> Space here like we're used to with a traditional Grateful Dead show. Before the Rhythm Devils do their thing, various players come go for a whole lotta Space... kind of a Space sandwich. Great Stuff!
Hey, Phil, what are those notes you're playin'? At the end of Space he's taking a an extended mellow solo setting up what's to come. Cosmic Charley?! Oh baby! Pretty nice. Warren's guitar, slide at times, sounds so nice. It's not a new arrangement by any means but thankfully not just a knock off copy of what was.
More slide from Warren on New Potato sounds so nice. For the first time this show, Bob's rhythm guitar is really jumping out at me. This is a nice rambling rendition in the post-D/S slow song slot.
Help->Slip->Frank puts a neat bow on the second set. I'm a little indifferent about this one. It's so structured that it makes me wonder how, possibly, can it be played without needing to sound like Jerry? Even Warren having space to solo in Slipknot kinda sounds like Jerry. Sheesh, can't I listen to this without comparing? At times this show has sounded freshly 2009 Dead-like but not overly Grateful Dead-like. To close things out here, though -- without a doubt the closest to sounding like the good old Grateful Dead that we've heard all show long. Franklin's is smokin', with great solos from Chimenti and Phil and Warren, so it's a great way to get people dancin' their asses off! One thing is surely true -- these guys are really freakin' digging being on stage playing this music!