Monday, May 19, 2008
REVIEW: Phil Lesh and Friends Close the Warfield
"This is like the old days,"Phil Lesh told the sold-out crowd at the last night of his 5-night Warfield run, the last night the leased venue will be controlled by Live Nation, which bought Bill Graham Presents, the company that ran the theater for three decades.
"We play what we feel like playing. I don't know Jerry, what do you feel like playing?"
WOW. Lesh, who spent the first four nights playing entire Dead albums, this time tried some wonderful experiments. He Bob Weir and drummer John Molo opened the first set as a trio, running through the Beatles "Come Together" and the Dead's classic jam, "Dark Star."
"We've always wanted to do that," Lesh said. It harkened back to the days when the Dead was the most experimental band on the planet, and it was refreshing after all these years without leader Jerry Garcia to front the long, strange trip.
A long wonderful night followed, lasting from 9 p.m. to 3:30 a.m., with an after party thrown by the Live Nation folks for their employees starting after that.
The band changed with each set: Jackie Greene and Larry Campbell did a bluegrass set, like Garcia used to do; Greene and Tim Bluhm from Mother Hips did a spacier set too. Lesh, Mark Karan and band played Dead tunes, like the Sugar Magnolia below.
They closed the night with "I Know You Rider," with its chorus "Gonna miss me when I'm gone," "Truckin," with the line "What a long strange trip it's been," and "And I Bid You Goodnight," which closed old Dead shows in the 1969 era.
This was the kind of week that makes you glad to be a Californian. Deadheads in other states and countries can only lust about the still blooming musical fruit we get here on a regular basis...
This was a night for the ages, and a week that will go down in Dead history.