16 February 2010

Furthur @ Barton Hall

Phil Lesh and Bob Weir, back at Barton Hall, a venue made famous by one random spectacular show over 30 years ago and certainly not for it's quality as a place to see a concert. An impossibly slow entrance kept me and the throngs around me outside until midway through the first set, cavernous like an airport hangar the sound was pretty pitiful in spots, concessions limited to free water served in shotglass sized plastic cups etc etc... I've experienced much worse, but still, Barton Hall really shouldn't be so revered. One thing that was pretty nice, they sold it out at a very comfortable level, making for a nice movable and breathable scene inside. I'd say they could have fit another 1000 people in there easy, though I'm thinking with the entrance/exit situation it would have made for a serious fire hazard.

This latest incarnation of the Grateful Dead puts an interesting group of musicians out there on stage. They call it Furthur, but you could call it the J-ful Dead. Backing up Lesh and Weir you've got Jay, Joe, John, and Jeff. Plus the two backup singers. Considering how new this grouping is, they are surprisingly and impressively tight. But also, somewhat disappointingly Weir-centric. Most glaringly this was the case when he took the reins for Standing on the Moon late in the 2nd set.

It was great to see Joe Russo lay down the beats for the classic Dead songbook. His work on Sugaree of all things was the highlight of the first set, at least what I saw of it.

Anyone who ever doubted the influence and likeness of Ryan Adams' later work with the music of the Grateful Dead would have those doubts quickly erased hearing his music dropped right into their set. Peaceful Valley formed seamlessly out of Uncle John's Band and produced what was probably the finest improvisation of the night. It sounded like they were going to drop into the Other One at any moment before they fizzled out the jam completely. We'd have to wait a little longer for that Other One.

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