Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Phil Lesh & Friends, SOB's 4/9/07 - Show Review

It is a rare occasion when a member of the Grateful Dead plays an intimate show before a crowd of about 400 people. Last night at SOB's in NYC, I happened to be amongst that small group. Was the show perfect? By no means. Was the show in my top 10? Not even close. But was the show impromptu, experimental, and endearing? Absolutely.

So this morning, I read some reviews online and was disappointed to see so many scathing comments. Look, I understand more than anyone that there are still a large number of GD faithfuls out there - purists - who refuse to accept anything less than Winterland '77 or Oakland Coliseum '87. Yet they still go to the shows (P&F, Ratdog), hoping and praying that Jerry's ghost will appear on stage and sing all of our troubles away; and when he doesn't, they exude nothing but negativity. Reality check -- Jerry is gone, and as hard as it is to swallow, "nothing's gonna bring him back." Undoubtedly, Jerry and the Dead set such a high bar for some 30 years, I too agree that no Dead offshoot, solo act, or special guest will ever come close to mimicking that timeless era. But the truth of the matter is, if we want the legacy of Jerry to survive, we must accept the fact that guys like Warren Haynes, Chris Robinson, Trey Anastasio, Larry Campbell, and yes, even Ryan Adams (who I think was a spectacular addition to the group) are that legacy; like it or not. I trust Phil on this one.

Okay. Back to the show.

Despite the criticism, I personally thought Larry McCray did a damn fine job on guitar/vocals. As a long time guitar-enthusiast and blues-aficionado, McCray is one of the more soulful and technically proficient blues players I've seen in a long time -- and he's got the voice to back it up. Sure, he was a little rattled during "Built to Last," and his vocal interpretation of "Loser" was far from the original, but cut the guy a break! He knew he was a little off, and you could tell he genuinely felt bad. It happens! Can anyone honestly remember the last time Bobby didn't fumble through a song?!? Indeed, according to Phil, the band only rehearsed for a few hours before the show -- not to mention that drummer Jaz Sawyer was a last minute sit-in for Phil-regular John Molo who was stricken with food poisioning. As for Larry Campbell, he is really starting to grow on me. In fact, other than Phil, he is the one member of the band who keeps the band afloat throughout. Never missing a note, Campbell is reliable, original and at times, a savior when the band starts to stray. Steve Molitz was also a lively addition. Although never a huge fan of Particle, I was very impressed by his keyboard work, especially on the Moog. Unfortunately, the keys were largely drowned out for most of the night out by the guitars, but by the 2nd set, I moved to about 15-feet from Molitz and was able to get a better listen. It was clear he was honored to be up on stage with Phil -- as was everyone.

All in all, it was a good night. The music was playing, the Red Stripe was flowing, and I couldn't have been happier seeing Phil at such a small venue on my home turf. I expect that tonight's show will be tighter and more cohesive, with maybe some new "phriends" in the mix. If I do get back to SOB's tonight, stay posted on The Weight for live updates from the show.

D.S., Weightstaff

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

happy that the legacy continues...sad that they charge ridiculous prices, and try to create some sort of 'aura' by doing small shows where tix get way out of hand...it is hit or miss, but now it is hit or miss without jerry...and that means miss, more often than not...at least on nights when the dead sucked, you still experienced garcia on guitar...he rarely sucked