Hey Now. Want more crispy crispy?
Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.
Cassidy, Passenger, Pride of Cucamonga
Easy Wind-» Lazy River Road
Alabama Getaway, Big Railroad Blues
Peggy-O, Glory Road
A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall
King Solomon's Marbles-» Drums
Warren's back to sounding more like himself in Passenger. Here we get an absolute ton of Phil's bass and some sweet Hammond B-3 from Chimenti. This is soooo good. The fact that Jeff is playing Brent's B-3 is just wild and really adding to how special this is. They completely rock this, shoulda been the set opener.
Easy Wind? Wow. I wasn't aware The Dead had played this in the past but they did a few times in 2004. It's almost one long, nice, mildly mellow jam that doesn't go out there but is always recognizable. Warren's vocals give it a nice bluesy feel that's different from Pigpen. He's also not channeling Pig the way Bob's been known to on Lovelight and Good Lovin', which helps make this version fairly original sounding rather than a knock-off copy.
The first notes of what's next had me positively captivated. There's been no verse swapping up to now but that's what we get here in Lazy River Road -- Bob to Warren to Bob and now Phil's verse has me in tears. I can't believe that they can be playing this song so perfectly. And that's followed by more marvelous Jeff on keys. Night 1 of the tour he didn't play as big a part as he already has here in Night 2. Aside from Jerry not leading the way, this is very Grateful Dead-like.
If LRR and Cassidy, and Passenger to a slightly lesser extent, had tremendous similarities to the Grateful Dead we know so well, Alabama Getaway seems to have somewhat of its own identity. Warren's got the vocals here and this woulda made a great second song: Passenger-> Alabama, Cucamonga. Oh well. I'm really noticing the furious pace Billy & Mickey keep throughout. The song slowly picks up steam and so do they. F'in' flawless! The crescendo they reach doesn't quite hit Mt. Everest heights but they get it to a point that's damn near close. All of a sudden you hear the crowd's approval erupt, letting the boys know they can come down now, thank you!
More blistering Dead in Big Railroad Blues finishes off the set. Bob's vocals are excellent and Warren's never pretending he's Jerry. More outstanding keyboard work from Jeff really delights the ears. Oh and then there's that silly Bob who, when the song is just, just, just so, so, so close to wrapping up, he launches into one final go at the chorus. This is nothing new for Chimenti or Weir as Big RxR, for Ratdog, has been in this first set closing slot for a few years now.
"This is where we play quiet and you listen loud."
-Phil Lesh quoting Jerry Garcia-
Glory Road is a song that Warren likes, a tune written by a North Carolina friend of his. It's nice enough but not exactly the lyrical magic of Robert Hunter or Bob Dylan. Bathroom break anyone? (That's so mean, isn't it? It's not that bad.)
Speaking of Bob, Bob gives the crowd a dose of Bob with A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall. This is new for The Dead but not new for GD Bob; he's been a-playin' this with Ratdog for about four years now. I hadn't a-heard an RD version but I imagine it's a lot like this. It's a perfect song for Weir considering some of his other Dylan selections, primarily Memphis Blues and Desolation Row. My primary thought during this tune: Jerry & John Kahn, Weir-Wasserman... how about Bob Weir & Phil Lesh?!!!? WOW!!!! Yeah... this song spectacularly exemplifies how Lesh-Weir shows would work so well. This Deadhead can only wish, I guess. Anyway, for the most part I'm feeling largely un-super-impressed with this... not that's it's bad, it's not. What it does is hum along just fine... but finally close to the end, I had, for two listens now, a feeling of immense appreciation for Weir adding yet another Dylan song to his personal repertoire, now included here with The Dead.
When the band begins playing fully electrically again, we get a dose of Space that is as incredible as any Space the Grateful Dead have ever done. Okay, well, maybe there are a few that are way, way out there mind-blowing but this one impresses the hell out of me! It's beautifully classic and modern rolled into one. Jerry? 'Zat you? I knew Jerry was here.
After awhile of floating around the galaxy on those noises and sounds, tis time once again to play everybody's second favorite fun time game -- What Song Is Next? Whew.......... [BIG SMILE] ... Dark Star! The noodling around doesn't last long before Phillip leads the way in. We've not left space yet, per say, more like crossed the border into a different galaxy. This is the Grateful Dead, is it not? You coulda fooled me. Of course Jerry isn't at the mic but Phil, Bob, and Warren trade off to really make this their own yet maintaining, of course, a tremendous Dead feel.
Another galaxy is Dead ahead (pun intended) as Dark Star drifts way away, crossing yet another border, heading off into a place where the mushrooms grow wild and free. Please, indulge, have a nice trip, see you next song. This is free form spacey Deadness at some of its greatest, dare I say, ever.
In a short while the band begins coming back in order to set themselves up for something else. But what? Holy crap, we're goin' Blues For Allah! Mickey & Billy here are Stronger Than Dirt as they help Phil steer the way so's the boys can begin Milkin' The Turkey. Them's a lot of Marbles played oh so well. This is really another wow moment for me, a little less emotional but I'm awed at this. I'm a-tellin' ya, aside from the odd setlist order, this is the Grateful Dead! I know, I know, it's not and it can't be because Jerry isn't here... but he is here. He is. Ask the Core Four... Jerry's in all of them and that's what makes this music so friggin sweet!
Speaking of odd setlist and what's friggin' sweet -- here comes Drums. It's not really odd where it's placed but we generally automatically think Drums>Space but on this night Space was like forty-five minutes ago to start the electric portion of the set. Not very raucous but quite melodic and electronic, a terrific and inspired Drums led us to what would follow which had everyone wondering -- What Song Is Next? Who needs Beatles records when The Dead can play Come Together as nicely as they do here. This not being a Dead original, it's okay hearing Warren do whatever he wants to. Then the jam at the end makes for some great music as they shimmy and twist in the wind, each alone yet all playing as one together, until they find a single common thread (Phil) leading the way back into Dark Star. Lining up behind the elder, they begin as one their steady flight forward across the heavens. You can really tell that Phil is wearing the Leader Armband tonight while Warren and Bobby are merely just rhythm players at times.
Bobstar completely takes the reigns, though, for a good old Sugar Magnolia to close out the set. For most of the song, instead of Warren throwing in blistering solos, he's really layin' back some to let Phil be an equal, if not even more dominant, force in the song. Including set breaks -- not present on the recording, of course -- how long has this show bein' goin now? Three and a half hours? And how old are these guys? Ranging from maybe 45 to 145? Nahhh.... they're all 35 tops!!! Okay, well, their most ferocious jams might not last as long as they used to, and they seem to need some time to pick up steam, but when they get rolling, they've got the atomic energy of a hundred volcanoes completely wired on a highly potent cocaine and Jolt Cola cocktail with a case of Viagra thrown in for added vivaciousness. These guys ain't asleep at the wheel by any means, I tell ya what! Perhaps evident most of all is their maturity. Jams flow like water for these guys, spilling and moving in whatever direction it pleases, before joining up again as one life-giving body. That which gives life, in this instance, in order to be able to give, needs to feed, as well. And this body on stage feeds off all the bodies in the crowd. One life force feeding off another in order to give. It's a continuous cycle.
And in the encore they give some more with a sweet UJB. For the first time in this show I'm really digging Bob's rhythm guitar. I miss so much the way he used to feed off Jerry and compliment Jerry's lead. We get a nice bit of that here in UJB between he and Warren. And for a big bow on the whole shebang, Ripple leaves everyone with a beautiful, peaceful feeling.
One final thought... this is clearly a brotherhood, with Warren a new brother not taking the place of the one who isn't with us anymore, but there to help pay tribute to him. This is a brotherhood who needs to play music. And they sure as hell damn sure do!
I was happy they were getting together again for a tour but not super-enthusiastic about it. But listening to these soundboards has me so hungry for '09 Dead! I can't wait to listen to and post another!
mp3 320 kbps SBD download + setlist - 4-14-09 aka 04-14-09 aka 4/14/09 aka 04/14/09 aka 09-04-14 District Of Columbia