Friday, June 12, 2009

Cliché-less Dead Stop in Western NY

The Dead '09 Steal Your Face very small

The Music Never Stopped, 2009 -- Volume 59
The Dead Spring '09 -- Volume VII

The Dead -- April 21, 2009
HSBC Arena -- Buffalo, New York

1st Set: The Promised Land, They Love Each Other, Mama Tried, Loser,
Smokestack Lightning, Stella Blue, It's All Over Now, Big River

Set 2: Playing In The Band Me & Bobby McGee Loose Lucy
Ramble On Rose Drums Space Maggie's Farm
Eyes Of The World Playin' Reprise

Encore: Truckin'

After a decently upbeat Promised Land to kick off the show, I'm really liking They Love Each Other. The guitars, from both Warren and Bob, are really helping to set a groove so fine. Throw in some great backbone from Phil and this, by my standards, is beautiful for post-Jerry. It's interesting that Bob's using a verse of Robert Hunter lyrics that were in very early playings of the song. For a zillion playings that part of the song was dropped but I guess Bob (probably with Ratdog before this) decided to include it again. I really like it. So nice to hear and just about outstanding, methinks.

Mama Tried leaves me scratching my head a little. The ending makes me wonder why did they not attempt to transition into something and make it a two-fer, what so many of us are used to? What a grand showcase for the awesome rockin' ability of this band that would've been. The stand-alone Mama Tried is just weird. The following Loser is really nice and actually kind of surprising me. This features more great rhythm guitar in perfect tandem with Warren's lead and some nice keys from Jeff really adds to the beauty of this. Wow.

Bob's in great form tonight on rhythm guitar, maybe his best show of the tour to this point... or maybe he's just turned up a notch above Warren and is just slightly more audible? Whichever, another beaut is given to us with Smokestack Lightning. This not being a Grateful Dead original, Warren's free to be himself without worry -- he's not gonna step on Jerry by sounding too much like him here. He definitely does not. This version of Smokestack is The Dead all the way!! The jam they sail into isn't mindblowing, perhaps a little choppy, but still fairly sweet with a good extra bit of playing from Phil as well as Jeff again. It peters out in the end, not making a proper segue into the next song. That's kinda too bad but the transition that there is, consisting primarily of the lead, rhythm and bass guitars quietly playing alone, and the anticipation for what's next makes up for the eventually stoppage before Warren pays a beautiful tribute to Jerry with Stella Blue. Ohhhh.... wow. Earlier, Loser was wonderful... but this is leaving me practically speechless. A really nice solo from Phil seems to inspire both Bob and Warren to really pick it up at the end. Ya know, it's not just some song from these guys. There's a lot more there and it works so well as a perfect tribute to the music we loved so much from Jerry.

Holy crap! It's All Over Now! WOW!!!! Oh my God! So fucking cool!!! Listen to it twice, man, seriously, hit that Back button and play it again! So far these guys are ON this night in Buffalo!

Big River is an odd set-closer and not a total barn-burner; it would have worked a hundred times better as the second song or right after Mama Tried but eh, whatever, it still was, for the most part, a damn fine set of music!

The second-of-the-tour Playing In The Band gets Set Two off to a great start. Firing on all cylinders, without a doubt. Warren's lead guitar is seemingly non-stop and a little less like Jerry here than it was a few shows ago in Charlottesville. And finally we get a proper and sweet transition as they practically as seamlessly move into a wonderful Bobby McGee. Wasn't expecting that! Once again it's Bob's rhythm guitar that is completely making this song be as good as it is. The transition into Loose Lucy isn't as smooth and this doesn't quite possess the raucousness that I'd prefer from this song... but it's not bad. Ramble On Rose might not have the same meaning anymore, not without The Leader Of The Band leading the way through the lyrics, but this is still a well-played version. It is a bit off, though, how it just ends right before Drums starts. No jam or nothin'.

Drums is interesting... and perplexing. It starts out with Jeff on stage, helping out as Mickey goes wildly electronic. This sounds almost nothing like what Mickey & Billy gave us so often, night after night for so many years. During this, Mickey plays a mashup recording of Rush Limbaugh and Barack Obama. What is the purpose in that? Limbaugh is clearly heard saying, "Let me tell you what conservatism is" and then it's edited to have him say, "Arrogance" and some other stuff. More editing makes it sound like Obama adds, "Flying off in private jet airplanes" and "Racism is everywhere" and then something about fancy curtains? What the hell, Mickey? Yes, because that's what all conservatives are like while all liberal Democrats are humble people who live humble lives, always looking out for the lower income people of America, and never ever looking out for themselves and their fellow politicians, ALWAYS spending taxpayer dollars wisely and never wastefully, right? Yeah, uh huh, whatever. Hey, have a seance and ask Pigpen what he'd think of your political bullshit. My guess -- he'd tell you to cut it out and just play music!! What a totally bogus way to (momentarily) bring down a show, man.

Coming out of Space it almost sounds like they're sliding into Samson and Delilah. The previous show was on a Sunday and so Bob made sure to play Samson then... it wouldn't be here just one show later. Nope, total fake-out and it's Maggie's Farm. I totally prefer when different band members take a verse -- Jerry, Bobby, Brent, Phil. Not here. This is all Bob and the arrangement is ever so slightly different than what most Deadheads are used to hearing.

Unfortunately what comes next is a total giveaway as the band is really sloppy here and there's no transition to speak of into Eyes. Bob can be heard trying to get everyone onto the same page. When they're finally rolling, it's Warren taking the lead on vocals. Early on there's a sweet and rather lengthy solo from Jeff who knows this song quite well because the band he's in -- Ratdog -- introduced it into their repertoire a few years back. I don't like Warren singing this, though. . . I'd rather hear Bob. What I do know for sure about this -- the playing is great.... and as I type that here's Phil taking a verse. The crowd loves it! And I'm really lovin' it, too. Bob steps up and takes the final verse and this is simply gorgeous!! The finale of the set is a meandering and then totally rockin' Playin' Reprise. Very cool, very fun, splendid!!!

And with the guys being in Buffalo, the obligatory Truckin' is the encore. While the guess that it finally had to be played is correct, I'm sure no one in the crowd knew it from the bit of a jam that they intro it with. Man, I dig that stuff! Keep 'em wondering until those first noted really truly kick in. Hell yeah! But OH MY GOD -- they fucked up the "Up to Buffalo" line. DUH!!!!!!!!!!! Oh well. Still a sweet show, maybe (probably) the most well-played show of the tour to this point.

The Dead '09 Steal Your Face very small

My comments were written
without reading a single word about this show from anyone else.
The Grateful Dead's tape archivist is on tour
and I wonder what he has to say...

Tonight is the first of six straight nights of music for the band in six different venues, including the Thursday night appearance on David Letterman. Western NY state has always been a very strong place for the Grateful Dead to play, and tonight marks the first ever show at the new home of the Buffalo Sabres, who unfortunately are not in this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs. The band does have a good history here, but mostly at the Aud and Rich Stadium, plus the Shea’s Buffalo Theatre show in 1979, but you can read all about the band’s history in Buffalo in this show’s history page.

On to the show, where the band was greeted by a VERY loud western NY crowd, by all accounts. A special thanks to DR and RLL for being my eyes and, more importantly, my ears in Buffalo. Opening with that classic opener from the 1970s, Promised Land, they signaled that this was to be a rocker from the start. No jam, just straight into this Chuck Berry powerhouse of a tune. The last time the band opened a Buffalo show with Promised Land was a shade over 30 years ago, at the aforementioned Shea’s show in 1979. Cool! Following this with They Love Each Other is a very nice and traditional way of opening a Dead show. I like where this is going. Following this up with Mama Tried and Loser has the makings of a really classic Grateful Dead setlist. I mean, I’ve got to say I love what happened the second night of Worcester, with the mid-first set Cream Puff War and the first set ending Good Lovin’, but there is such a huge charm in the look of a good old Grateful Dead setlist. There is a certain comfort in a Hell In A Bucket>Sugaree>Walkin’ Blues, Dire Wolf opening sequence, isn’t there? A report from the show, in regards to Loser and They Love Each Other, said great vocals on both, with Warren taking the former and Bobby the latter. Oh, here come the fireworks! Woe-oh, Smokestack Lightning! Nice! I only saw the Grateful Dead play this half a dozen times or so, but Bobby always did it justice. Warren has been a monster on these blues tunes so far this tour. Next is Stella Blue, and looking at these first six tunes of the night, none of them are repeats from earlier in the tour, which is to say about 6.5 shows into the tour, only three tunes have been repeated (Uncle John’s Band, Slipknot! and Samson played on Sunday in Worcester were the only three repeats so far). I always loved Stella Blue at GD shows, but then again, I loved all of Jerry’s ballad tunes from the second set, including Black Peter, Wharf Rat and Morning Dew. None of which they’ve played yet on this tour, I might add. Up next is another non-repeat, It’s All Over Now, such a great song for the Grateful Dead since 1976, and a tune that Bobby has played consistently since then with and without the GD. These setlists on the tour are really revealing the depth of not only the quantity of Grateful Dead music, but the depth of quality. Here we are 6.5 shows into the tour and they keep pulling out classic Grateful Dead songs. So cool! Big River, very, very cool! Mama Tried and Big River, although not attached together tonight, was always my favourite cowboy medley amongst the many variations. This is fun! Big River, a great way to end the set.

Set 2

Opening with Playing In The Band is such a great second set opener, as it bodes well for an uninterrupted set of music. As RL pointed out, it’s a very 1973 sounding show tonight, with hints of a 1977 vibe. Playing In The Band, as is no secret, is one of my favourite Grateful Dead songs, as it always opened up to such magnificent spaces. Although it’s a tour repeat, that’s OK, as I could hear this song every night. In keeping with the 1973 vibe that I’ve heard from a few people at the show tonight, up come another couple of songs that are vintage 1973 Grateful Dead, Me and Bobby McGee and Loose Lucy (reminiscent of the Buffalo 1990 Loose Lucy, as pointed out to me by RL, which was a great version in the midst of a really great show). This setlist is out of control good. It’s a very cool theme to follow, this 1973-ish setlist, whereas the setlist of Sunday’s Worcester show was 1966-1968-centric, with Alligator, Cream Puff War, Born Cross-Eyed, Schoolgirl, Lovelight and Good Lovin’. Clearly, this is a band having fun, and drawing upon almost 45 years of music. Up next is another typical-of-1973 tune, Ramble On Rose, which was another huge crowd sing-along as reported by RL. This is one cool show so far. Something that’s been so interesting so far on the tour is how varied each and every show has been. Obviously this applies to the setlists, but also the formats, some shows opening with long jams, some second sets having two songs before the drums, a show with a two song encore, etc. Not only are they drawing upon their entire repertoire, but they’re eschewing the standard formats and going with whatever feels good on a given night. After Ramble On Rose came Drums, which as you might know by my previous show recaps, have been excellent on this tour. Really, if you’re going to a show, check out this impressive part of the show. This was followed, of course, by Space, where the four non-drummers have been making some really great sounds all tour long. Out of the ashes of Space came the uplifting melody of Maggie’s Farm. This was followed by the quintessential 1973 song, Eyes of the World. With all of this talk about 1973, I had really hoped they’d play Eyes of the World at this show, another tune they had not yet played on the tour. Another of my personal favourites. This then falls into the always-welcome Playing In The Band reprise. Truly a classic-looking Grateful Dead setlist. A few twists here and there (Smokestack, Maggie’s Farm amongst a few others), but overall a show that would not be out of place in 1973. And the encore was an appropriate Truckin’, both because it is another vintage 1973 Grateful Dead song, but also because of the line “Truckin’ up to Buffalo!” What a setlist!!

Again, a huge thanks to David Raffarin and Rory Levy for the reports from the road. Tomorrow’s show in Wilkes Barre is the smallest venue on the tour, about 9,000 and change, so to all those heading out to that show, have fun. It ought to be great!

by David Lemieux

See some more cool pics from this show at JamBase

Soundboard (Digital Matrix) recording for The Dead in Buffalo, New York at the HSBC Arena, 4/21/09

ARCHIVE HEADPHONESThe Dead 4/21/09 @ the Internet Archive:
Audience sources only for Listening or Downloading.
Download The Soundboard Here

Audio Quality:
Source: Digital Soundboard (Matrix)

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

mp3 320 kbps SBD download + setlist (no lossless FLAC) - 4-21-09 aka 04-21-09 aka 4/21/09 aka 04/21/09 aka 09-04-21


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this one Zooma!

Anonymous said...

Zooma, thanks for the buffalo show,keep them coming our way.
the guy from INDY,IN.

Anonymous said...

Thanks and I can't wait to hear them.

Anonymous said...

I haven't given any of the new dead material a spin. You're write-up compelled me. Good looks on the link.

- Some dude from Boston

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

Calvin and Hobbes in the snow -- animated