Thursday, December 08, 2005

Recapturing the spirit of the Dead

From the Boston Globe:

Recapturing the spirit of the Dead
By Steve Morse, Globe Staff

The hippie tie-dye was pulled out of the closet for this performance by Phil Lesh & Friends. Give Lesh credit for reviving a Grateful Dead atmosphere -- and give the Agganis Arena security staff a nod for letting the youths (and many elders, too) have some freedom to boogie and dance around the building.

Lesh & Friends played two distinct sets. The first was more mellow and song-oriented and more into country with the twangy likes of Bob Dylan's ''Senor (Tales of Yankee Power)" and Lefty Frizzell's ''Long Black Veil" (with former Dylan guitarist Larry Campbell shining on mandolin). But the second set was a scorcher, starting with Dead classic ''Truckin' ," then a psychedelic trip into ''Cats Under the Stars" (title track of a 1978 Jerry Garcia solo album), and the romping ''New Speedway Boogie."

Lesh's booming bass runs anchored the evening, but the star was singer Chris Robinson, on leave from the Black Crowes. He sang the country material with deep reverence, did the Dead covers with roadhouse passion, and even dug into the quirkily cosmic ''Dark Star" with Lesh.

The show started clunkily with Dead raver ''Uncle John's Band" (in which Lesh unsuccessfully tried to duet with Robinson), but it got better as the night went along. Drummer John Molo was immense as a timekeeper, and guitarist Barry Sless also starred with a trebly, Garcia-like tone which merged nicely with Campbell's more painterly touch. This was a feel-good show that evoked some of the best images of the Dead's heyday.


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