Sunday, May 17, 2009

"T right here in Albany."

The Music Never Stopped, 2009 -- Volume 49

The Dead -- April 17, 2009
the former Knickerbocker Arena (Times Union Center)

Albany, New York

1st Set: Casey Jones, Cold Rain & Snow, Minglewood Blues,
Into The Mystic, West L.A. Fadeaway, Brown-Eyed Women

Cumberland Blues

Set 2: Viola Lee Blues Sugaree The Other One Drums
Comes A Time Unbroken Chain, Throwing Stones

Encore: Not Fade Away

At first it didn't feel right but just like a freight train, Casey Jones picks up steam as the show's opening tunes; soon enough it's gettin' me warmed up nicely. One detriment to doing songs in the opening slot that they're not used to doing in that slot is they're also not used to a transition from whatever song it is they're not used to opening with into what's next. I don't know, ya know, they could figure it out but it seems like they're too lazy to. Or don't want to? Don't want to? Why not!? What a GREAT way to open the show -- one song smoothly sliding into Song #2, or at least RIGHT at the end of the opener, quickly launching into Song #2 without missing a beat, or taking a lot of time between tunes. Ya know? And then when they do launch into Cold Rain & Snow I'm thinkin', "Yeah, that shoulda been the first song. Oh well."

Anyway, Casey Jones was alright but I really like the feel of Cold Rain here. Bob knows how to give this song a dose of Grrrr but the crowd loves when Phil steps up to take a verse.

Unfortunately, Minglewood doesn't do much for me. This arrangement in 2009 isn't drastically different from Grateful Dead days or even in the years following but it's not compact to really rock; the open space kinda drags it on. That also gives Warren more time to play Jerry. Some tunes that's hard to get away from.

A real treat here is Van Morrison's Into The Mystic. No expectations here. And it's not exactly like this out of the blue here as it's been done by Phil & Friends starting in Fall of 2000 when Warren was with the band and then again with the Haynes-included 2004 version of this band. When Warren sings Jerry he tries not to step too hard but here he can just be. And Jeff on keys here also has a place to shine without being too Brent-like.

West L.A. seems to be all about Phil's bass. I've also realized that Warren's guitar in the soundboard mix is mostly off in the right channel while Phil and Bobby's rhythm are in your face -- proper. I really dig listening to Phil the most, and to Bob's rhythm more than Warren's lead, so this is wonderfully balanced.

To begin Brown-Eyed Women, the boys have some with a jam for a few minutes. No one knows what's coming until they announce the first notes of the song as we know them to be. A really good rendition I think this is, a beautiful tribute to Jer from Bob & Phil. The way they trade verses and even individual lines is great. The pace of the tune moves along faithfully and the crowd digs this a whole lot... perhaps the highlight of the first set.

Soon enough we get a decent segue into what definitely contends for best song of the first set, the set-closer Cumberland Blues. Holy cow, it sounds like Phil is just gettin' warmed up here! What a crankin' version.

The crankin'ness is picked right up with Viola Lee Blues to start Set 2. Phil is just rockin' his bass non-stop. He never lets up. A over 24 minutes, Viola Lee is the primary spot in this show for some down-home free-form jamming. They seem to somehow stick to VLB all throughout but beyond that tiniest attachment, the whole band wanders where they want, together, before bringing it all back together again for another verse. I wasn't so sure about this but through my 2nd and 3rd and 4th listen, it has completely grown on me. Is this not the Grateful Dead? It is. Warren's not Jerry but filling his shoes is a task he can easily accomplish. At times you might think he's channeling Jerry, taking direction from beyond the grave... or the San Francisco Bay and the Ganges, in this case.

The segue into Sugaree is interesting as that's a combo I never imagined hearing in this life. I'd prefer Bob singing this. It's slightly on the rare side for Ratdog but not foreign to him. I think Phil has also sung this with Phil & Friends but here we go with Warren paying tribute to Jerry and this wonderful and much-loved song.

The Other One gives the band more space to play freely for awhile. Before the first verse occurs, over 9 minutes of music takes place. The entry into the heart of the song is announced by Phil. One can't expect the thunderousness of so many Other Ones from years past... but he gives it a good strong go at it which indeed delights. In between the few moments of lyrics there's plenty of more amazing albeit meandering playing taking place before Mickey & Billy take over to do their thing for Drums.

Another beautiful tribute to Jer comes in the form of Warren singing the also much-loved and somewhat rare (when the GD were playing it) Comes A Time. Bob has some great licks here, basic and just on a rhythm level while Warren noodles away, but still quite an important part of the song nonetheless.

"That was so good," Sugarmag just said about the opening of the next song. "If I was at this show I would have been so excited to hear Unbroken Chain." I totally agree. This might be the song of the night for me. Everyone is groovin' perfectly along here. One of the great things about this is the fact we don't have a ton of Grateful Dead version to compare to and those we have are from 1995 alone. Warren, in my mind, is free to do what he wants here and he's not stepping on Jerry one bit. A beautiful version, methinks. What follows to end the show is nice and nostalgic but can't beat Comes A Time or Unbroken Chain. The NFA as encore seems out of place. We, Deadheads who listen to Grateful Dead music, just ain't used to it as the encore, especially not a jamming version that peters out at the end. They should rocked it to a close. Oh well.

Overall, still a fun listen from start to finish. It really did grow on me after 3 or 4 listens. There's a lot of music going on at times, a lot to listen, more than just "a song." Subtleties abound in this music -- tune in to them!

The Grateful Dead's tape archivist is on tour
and here's what he has to say...

After a nice, long drive from Charlottesville to Albany, it was great to pull up the venue at which so many great Grateful Dead shows took place, and we even stayed at the same hotel I used to stay at 16-19 years ago. Pretty cool. The city hasn’t changed much, and we had a great night hanging out on Lark Street. For an east coast burrito joint, Bombers should be proud. It’s a hip little neighborhood, and just a short walk from the venue. The load in was during a crisp but sunny morning, and everything is running smoothly. Spirits keep getting higher as the shows keep getting better. Now a Friday night in a classic Grateful Dead venue bodes well for a fun night of music. Preparations are going well for tomorrow’s live broadcast from Worcester. People are beginning to fill the streets of Albany as the weather keeps getting warmer.

Although the Knickerbocker, er, Times Union Center is quite a bit bigger than the Charlottesville arena, it feels so small. Maybe it’s due to familiarity of having been here so often in the past. Walking around the venue earlier today I forget that I’d seen Robert Hunter here at the Palace Theatre in 1997, just down the street from the Knickerbocker.

Set 1

Another blast of pre-1970, with Casey Jones and Cold Rain and Snow opening the show. Cold Rain has always been one of my favourites and this one was played beautifully and had everyone up and dancing. Jeff’s swirling organ filled the room, and everyone played their hearts out on top of that. Terrific stuff. Following that with another old one, New Minglewood Blues, had everyone smiling, plus a tasty Into The Mystic sung by Warren was a nice surprise. And then came the 1980s, with a bluesy, raunchy West LA Fadeaway. Crazy stuff. Following that came another dose of 1970-1971, Brown Eyed Women (with a great intro!) followed by Cumberland Blues, with Phil laying down that wonderful Cumberland bass line. All in all a very, very good and solid first set that everyone loved.

Set 2

Everyone was thrilled with the second set opener, Viola Lee Blues! And it went on and on with some crazy way-out-there jams! Excuse the exclamation points, but it was smoking!! That fell into a beautiful Sugaree with Warren providing some soulful vocals. Out of the ashes of Sugaree came a deep and powerful The Other One, complete with roaring Phil bass intro. Bobby has been playing really great this tour, and tonight is the clearest and loudest I’ve yet heard him, and his playing is high on the wow-factor. Derek on the recording crew thought this Other One was really a cooker, and he was right. Another excellent Rhythm Devils came next, with Billy and Mickey playing some inspired sounds, as we journeyed through space with them. Out of Space came Comes A Time, and a friend pointed out that it was on 3/27/93 at this very same venue that both Casey Jones and Comes A Time were played, just as they both were tonight. Thanks DG for the historical reminder. That show in 1993 was the only time I saw either of those tunes live. After Comes A Time came a long, very jammed out Unbroken Chain, a song I’ll never tire of. Everyone kept pushing that instrumental groove harder under it all fell back into the final verse. Well done! A Throwing Stones emerged from that, one of Bobby’s finest compositions. What a freaking show! Throwing Stones was a nice way to end the second set, and as a continuation of that usual sequence, the nice encore of Not Fade Away.

Oh, and on a side note, the lights look amazing at these shows! Dan English, the lighting designer, has done a wonderful job lighting these concerts.

Thanks Albany, for another great of music. It was always my favourite tour stop in 1990-1993, and tonight was the best night yet, and that’s saying a lot considering how much fun it’s been so far. On to Worcester, for two nights at the Centrum (or whatever it’s called now).

by David Lemieux

see a few more pics from Jay Blakesberg at JamBase

ARCHIVE HEADPHONESThe Dead 4/17/09 @ the Internet Archive:
Audience source only for Listening or Downloading.
Download The Soundboard Here

Audio Quality:
Source: Digital Soundboard (Matrix)

1st Set Set 2, Part 1 Set 2, Part 2

mp3 320 kbps SBD download + setlist - 4-17-09 aka 04-17-09 aka 4/17/09 aka 04/17/09 aka 09-04-17 Albany


Anonymous said...

Awesome. These sound great.

Anonymous said...

Thanks as usual Zooma! Also thanks for the nice show description.

Sugarmag said...

I really enjoyed listening to this with you, Babe! Unbroken Chain was definitely the best part. I love that song! And the jam in it was long and really good.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say many thanks for the music...the music never stops!!!
Rich in Chicago

Saw the second Chicago show and it was great!!

Anonymous said...

Was a great show to see live, thanks for the post.

Anonymous said...

Hey thanks! I haven't got the files downloaded yet, but from the description, I'm sure they'll be great!

Anonymous said...

Keep up the Great work bringing us the 2009 tour,sounds great.
keep it coming our way!
the guy from INDY,IN.

Anonymous said...

Hi. Great site. Enjoy the GD AND the random right leaning political commentary. Went to Albany and was lukewarm about the show until I heard these. The sound captured was not what I heard that night.

freakypete said...

hey zoom
want sure bout this to start with but have warmed to it.
after ten listns i realy like, it is the dead after all.
in the uk all the politicians have been caught with their hands in the till, likely result? a big swing to the british national party.
thanks for this show, i knew i could get it from you.

one says one number and the other another
but they were set at the same time. Hmmm...

Calvin and Hobbes in the snow -- animated