PHIL LESH | 04.09 & 04.10 | NYC

Listen to Phil Lesh on Rhapsody...

Words By: Brian Bavosa

Phil Lesh :: 04.09.07 & 04.10.07 :: S.O.B.'s :: New York, New York

Monday :: 04.09

Phil Lesh by Weiand
A high level of speculation and excitement surrounded these S.O.B.'s shows, one of Phil Lesh's first musical appearances since his recent bout with prostate cancer. Lesh's "friends" were never officially announced but many suspected the 450-capacity venue in SoHo, which usually hosts Latin dance gigs, would be transformed into a cosmic netherworld for a few nights.

Monday night, Lesh was accompanied by Steve Molitz (Particle) on keys, Larry Campbell (Phil Lesh, Bob Dylan) and Larry McCray on guitars, Christina Durfee (Trey Anastasio) on vocals and very late substitute Jaz Sawyer on drums who took over for John Molo who was laid up with a horrific case of food poisoning just hours before the show. A "Funky Jam" > "Bird Song" > "Althea" trio opened the show and offered signs of a promising evening. McCray gave a fresh, soulful edge to "Althea."

Larry Campbell by Chapman
Sadly, things tumbled downhill from there. The remainder of the first set featured an odd song selection including "Built To Last" and "Let it Ride." It was painfully obvious that McCray wasn't all that familiar with the Dead catalogue, badly butchering some parts. Durfee and Sawyer were almost non-existent, with the latter barely holding down the correct beat, never mind pushing a jam. Molitz was a steady force on keys but he was way too low in the mix for most of the night.

Set Two began with "Shakedown Street," which might as well have been called "Breakdown Street." McCray missed the lyrics and changes so badly that I saw more cringing, perplexed faces than bobbing heads despite this being one of the Dead's most infectious numbers. "Deal" and "Loser" again found McCray in strange territory. "Tumbling Dice" was a nice surprise, but not enough to cover the losses incurred up to this point. The highlight of the night was when the band busted into two Particle tunes, "7 Minutes to Radio Darkness" and "The Elevator," an extremely danceable combo that had even the oldest Deadheads welcoming the electronica.

Steve Molitz by Earl Gardner
However, nothing could salvage this wreck of a night. Lesh seemed compelled to point out the lineup only had a few hours to practice beforehand. Many unsatisfied souls led to a very strange post-show vibe. Several people even sold their tickets for Tuesday right on the spot. But, I guess that's live music. You fall flat on your face, naked for all to see one night and tell yourself that tomorrow will be different.

Tuesday :: 04.10

John Molo took his place behind the kit Tuesday but that was the only lineup change. Everyone prayed to St. Stephen this night would be different than the last. Bubbling open with "Franklin's Tower," it's no exaggeration to say the first 15-minutes on Tuesday, which featured superb work by all, absolutely blew Monday away.

Phil Lesh by Weiand
Halfway through the first set, Warren Haynes emerged to the delight of all to sing "Ship of Fools." Haynes' classic, smoky vocals and signature slide work had me thinking of all those who'd sold their tickets the previous night.

After a lengthy set break, they began with an absolutely pummeling "Viola Lee Blues," with Haynes continuing to guest. "Viola Lee" is a song people now associate with Haynes because of his time with Lesh's quintet, and this 25-minute version included three superb jams. At the song's conclusion, Haynes waved goodbye and the show rolled on.

John Molo by Minkin
The biggest difference from the previous night was Molo. He's a driving force that Lesh should include in his lineup whenever possible. The next hour or so saw steady jamming by all, including a strong "Cryptical Envelopment" > "Other One" highlighted by Molo and Lesh's interplay. Another Particle tune, "Launchpad," showcased Molitz, who acquitted himself well both nights and even managed to steal the show a few times. "Terrapin Station" stopped midway, apparently because everyone on stage suddenly went tone deaf and never recovered afterwards. The night ended the way it began, on a high note, with Molo transforming himself into "the headlight on this northbound train" during "I Know You Rider."

The two nights were most certainly "A Tale of Two Phils" - one of the flattest, most embarrassing nights in the post-Dead era followed by a triumphant return to form that benefited greatly from the presence of Molo and Haynes.


04/09/07 | S.O.B.'s | New York City, NY
Set 1: Jam > Birdsong > Althea, Big River, Built To Last, Jam > Let It Ride
Set 2: Intro, Shakedown Street, Deal, Loser, Tumbling Dice, Gentleman Start Your Engines > Jam > Seven Minutes To Radio Darkness > Elevator, St. Stephen > Not Fade Away
E: Lovelight

04/10/07 | S.O.B.'s | New York City, NY
Set 1: Jam > Franklin's Tower > Friend Of The Devil > The Weight, Ship Of Fools*, Blow Away* > Cold Rain & Snow*
Set 2: Jam > Viola Lee Blues*, Candyman, All Along The Watchtower > Cryptical Envelopment > The Other One > Launchpad > Jam > Terrapin Station (aborted), Terrapin Station > I Know You Rider
E: Next Time You See Me
*with Warren Haynes

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[Published on: 4/20/07]

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Ilikephish531 starstarstarstar Fri 4/20/2007 01:41PM
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yikes. great concise just sorry to hear the news.

Rich Lieberman starstarstarstarstar Fri 4/20/2007 02:19PM
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Rich Lieberman

Nice rehash of the shows. You reported it exactly like I had heard, nice job on the review! I am so glad I didnt go after all. I had wanted to get to one of these shows but now I'm glad I passed. Warren will always make any band stronger, it's too bad Phil couldnt get him for both nights and do the entire shows. Larry McCray was an odd choice since he's a blues man (and a fine one) but not suprised to hear that he didnt fit. I would expect the next Phil stealth shows to be much better.

lexslamman starstarstar Fri 4/20/2007 02:38PM
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Not-so-great outing by Phil. Hope to hear some intrepid jams over the summer (Hey Phil, did you hear that Warren and Jimmy are going to be at Bonnaroo... hint.. hint..)

PLUG starstarstarstar Fri 4/20/2007 03:46PM
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I was lucky to have been at night 2 and not night 1.

Larry has tons of potential, he just needs to be locked in a room with 100 Dead shows and his guitar.

rpmills starstarstarstarstar Fri 4/20/2007 04:17PM
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>>>>Larry has tons of potential, he just needs to be locked in a room with 100 Dead shows and his guitar...

and a vile. :)

I've streamed both shows and the author is pretty much on the money. With Phil, especially a stealth show, that is part of the it goes.

How about another stealth show for SF without Ryan Adams this time, Mr. Philbert!!!!

Marcsmall Fri 4/20/2007 06:10PM
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rpmills---exactly. Ryan Adams can destroy any decent Phil show.
He is Noxious.

BlewW044 Sat 4/21/2007 02:59PM
Show -4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
Dan24Man starstarstarstar Sat 4/21/2007 04:17PM
Show -9 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
chasetc20 starstarstarstarstar Sun 4/22/2007 07:17PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


torn&treyed Mon 4/23/2007 07:44AM
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its awsome to see a show review that pulls no punches.

nuke_ticketbastard starstarstar Mon 4/23/2007 09:18AM
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so what did this have to do with getting tix through a video game?

mike_c Mon 4/23/2007 09:54AM
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i really wish warren haynes was not invited to play w/ phil. i was so glad when phil replaced him. warren's voice and guitar are both wrong for the dead sound. it sounds like the grateful allman band, for lack of a better term. don't get me wrong, i think he's a great talent, but in the right context. and that does NOT include dead songs.

Rich Lieberman starstarstarstarstar Mon 4/23/2007 08:58PM
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Rich Lieberman

Let's see how Mt. Jam plays out. My bet is it will be amazing!
Sco & Warren... now your talkin Phil!

mike_c starstarstarstar Tue 4/24/2007 07:18AM
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H.B. Woodrose - while i can see your point (i've had this argument several times), warren sure has played w/ "dead related" projects a-plenty, one could definitely say he is a relative of the family. but as an outsider, i see him as a musical vagabond, (some anger filled souls would say a music whore, but i don't like that term). my point here is that he plays w/ and sits in w/ so many different bands, people tend to use him as a crutch, a fill in. do you honestly believe warren's guitar tone and voice are better sounding in the "dead" setting than the phil and friends versions w/ trey and campbell from last summer? there is no way! or even trey and kimock from '99? or even campbell and scofield from last summer. warren just doesn't sound as good as these players in this context. just my opinion. obviously phil feels differently, as he continues to invite him back to play shows. i just don't like it, personally, and i wish he would stick to other ventures. i think he is much better suited for the allmans and gov't mule. even though he doesn't need to sing in the allmans, gregg allman's voice has always been perfect in that band.

Rich Lieberman Tue 4/24/2007 07:38AM
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Rich Lieberman

I think Warren deserves a bit more credit than that. IMHO the Q was the best Phil lineup of them all. The only lineup that produced a studio release... and a fine one at that. Warren wrote many of the best songs on that album.

As far as his signing in the ABB, he wrote most of the songs he sings except for the covers and I think you would be hard pressed to find a more accomplished vocalist in the Jam Band community. Have a listen to his vocals on the acoustic version of Stella Blue from the Bonorroo release of a few years back.

As far as people calling him a musical vagabond or worse, I've heard that as well, but take a look at his work with The Mule durring "The Deep End" years after Woody's passing and see how many of his "Friends" came out and played or toured with him. Only the best bass players in the business.

While I'm sure Warren could care less what other people think of his decisions to sit in when asked. I do think he deserves a lot of credit. He dosent audition for these roles in bands, he's asked. Call him a hired gun if you will but I would assure you tha he would turn down being a part of a band he couldnt add something positive musically too. He brings his own style to the table. with Phil he didnt try to copy Jerry but contribute in his own style.

Go back and listen to some of the live shows in the Q days. Warren & Jimmy killed it almost every night. The improvisational jams especially.

Just my .02

mike_c Tue 4/24/2007 08:09AM
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There is no doubting or debating his resume. He has played w/ some of the greats. For my tastes however, he does not fit in to the mold of the "Dead" style. And I stand by my opinion that the P&F outfits that included Warren are not the better shows the band has played. It's half Allman Brothers, half Grateful Dead, and that is not what I look for when I go see Phil. I appreciate that Phil is not trying to copy what Jerry did. I agree w/ that whole heartedly, he is trying to continue on, and to evolve and progress. But that doesn't necessarily mean Warren's sound is right for where the music is evolving to. I think it is actually dead wrong.

As was yours, this is just my .02

mike_c Tue 4/24/2007 08:11AM
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And just to add (after re-reading your last couple of sentences), I'm not involving Jimmy in this. He is a different discussion all together. His sound is way more versatile than Warren's and I would much rather have him in the band. But Jimmy is not what this discussion is about.

nuke_ticketbastard Tue 4/24/2007 09:08AM
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AGAIN i ask , how did people get tix for this show ???
it says through a video game - whats the scoop?

paul14 starstarstarstar Tue 4/24/2007 09:10AM
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I like Warren and Joan the best with Phil as The Dead. I think they both add the extra vocal support everyone needs. I also enjoyed Trey with them. I couldnt really get into Schofield with Phil though. He is really the only guitarist I have seen with Phil that didnt really make sense. I am not hating on Scho by any means, I am a huge MSMW fan. It just didnt work out for them. How about Phil & Friends at 10klf???!!!

ManyRoads starstarstarstarstar Tue 4/24/2007 10:24AM
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For about a day (an hour?) after the announcement there were tickets available that could be obtained by going through this video game off of phil's web-page and then getting a password. I think the game is still there. Sort of fun.

I love Joan's voice with phil and always find myself so happy to be seeing a show that it doesn't matter who's on guitar w/ Phil. Warren's voice is great on some Dead tunes and for others can only make me miss Mr. Garcia.

blower starstarstarstar Tue 4/24/2007 10:34AM
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I diagree with Mike as well. Warren's projects with the the Dead have been by far the best post Jerry Dead related shows I have seen. Warren has soul in his lyrics.
Yes, honestly Warren plays and sings better than Trey. Warren may not have the exaclty Jerry tone but at least he plays the songs right. Trey does not even get the songs right. Trey and Phil harmonizing just is not good vocally at all. If you honestly think that duet can sing you have way too much affection for nostalgia. I have tons of respect for Phil and Trey.

However, I agree with you Mike that he should not play with Phil full time. Allmans, Dead and Mule is just oversaturation. He should keep his focus on Mule.

batso33 starstarstarstar Tue 4/24/2007 10:42AM
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Bro, what are you talking about? I believe that you are entitled to your opinion, but I don't understand where you are coming from. The music has always been about evolution. It is the reason why a deadheads trained ear can listen to set and know what year it is from. This is half the fun of going to a Darkstar show is about. But for you to sit there and talk about an accompliced mussician like Warren and call him a vagabond that should not be playing the Dead is unconceivable to me. Can you tell me honestly that Jerry was turning over in his grave in 2004 @ Bonnaroo when Shine on You Crazy Diamond was sandwiched between Darkstar? I believe that Jerry was there enjoying the vibe the same way I was with the other 70,000 +.
The reason Warren is asked to play with so many bands including P & F's is because of the passion he brings to the stage. The times that I have see Warren, he has brought it. It is the reason why over two nights during stealth shows, the highlight is when Warren hit the stage.
I have hopes of another Dead tour. I would surely love to see Warren back with the band that you and I both love for more live Dead music with some southern charm.

jellyphish10 Tue 4/24/2007 12:16PM
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Paul 14 States:
"I couldnt really get into Schofield with Phil though. He is really the only guitarist I have seen with Phil that didnt really make sense. I am not hating on Scho by any means, I am a huge MSMW fan. It just didnt work out for them."
To Qoute General McCaulif at the proposal of surrender when the town he was defending was surrounded by Germans during WWII, "NUTS!"
I am not a Schofield fan as fans go, but I got to give credit where credit is due. The shows I saw with P&F and Sco were just awesome. May I recomend to Paul 14 to download the Asheville, NC show from last year... He tore it up and sounded so good with the band they were really jamming ("gell"ing). As a musician w 20 years playing, I can tell you they were on, again, just give it a listen.
As for the Warren w the band discussion, he brings his own style to the mix. Phil is a bright guy and he sees things in other musicians that he appreciates and thinks can add to the music. As for the musicians they know that if they are going to play with Phil, they are going to be doing Dead tunes for the most part. I dont believe that Phil would invite these guys in if he thought they would in any way trample the integrity of the Dead catalogue with they're own styles... I TRUST Phil and his choices, hey I went into the Sco shows with some trepidation, but was pleasantly surprised. Next thing you know Widespread Panic will be jamming with Taylor Hicks! (oh wait they did that didn't they ?!?!?)

biodtl916 Tue 4/24/2007 01:27PM
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I am glad to finally find people that agree with me that I just don't like Warren with Phil. Warren is great but it just does not work for me. Although, I must add that I am always saddened by any post-Jerry 'Dead' band. It took me until seeing 'The Dead' to finally give up after all those years and countless shows of trying to find those days again. I agree that the Dead has always been about evolving and unfortunately for me, they have all evolved into poor imitations of Dead cover bands. I would rather watch Darkstar and at least know that we are all pretending.

mike_c Tue 4/24/2007 01:40PM
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I agree w/ H.B. on one thing at least - way to have a mature, adult conversation w/out turning to name calling. it's actually pretty nice. now w/ that said, you all suck and your opinions are wrong! ;)

seriously though, we could go back and forth all day on this. people like what they like, and that's just the way it is. i will continue to see Phil as much as possible, but only when warren is not present. it just ain't my thing. biodtl96 and i appear to be in the minority here, but that's ok, it's not a competition. i won't go as far as to say i'm "saddened by and post-jerry 'dead' band" as biodtl916 does, my initial point here was i just don't like warren as a "friend" w/ phil. that's all. i prefer him w/ the mule.

and after all, the best p&f lineup was easily the 4/99 warfield shows. this has been scientifically proven and cannot be argued. ;)

Rich Lieberman Tue 4/24/2007 02:40PM
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Rich Lieberman

I remember how incredibly happy I was to hear those Warfield shows. That was truly music to my ears, that Warfield run. Yes that lineup of Phil, Molo, Kimock, Trey Anastasio, Page McConnell, *Donna Jean Godchaux-MacKay was amazing.

Yet still... that was for only 3 shows. After listening to The Q when they had really hit stride they brought the jamming to new heights. It's the improvisational jamming and musical exploration that I find most compelling...for me.

I interviewed Warren a few weeks ago in NYC for JamBase and asked him his thoughts on playing with other musicians, "without a net" so to speak. IMHO this response is what it's all about. He gets it!

"Music, speaking for myself, is so much more fun when you don't know what to expect," comments Haynes. "When you are lucky enough to be surrounded with great musicians, like all of us are, it would be imposing limitations on yourself to expect things to work out a certain way. You have to open yourself up to the unexpected and just not have any preconceptions about where the music's gonna go, let it steer itself to the extent that it will and help steer it to the extent that you can. There is so much great music that can be made in an unrehearsed fashion. If you're with the right people it's just incredible."


Marcsmall Wed 4/25/2007 09:00AM
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Jimmy Herring and Bobby should be the guitar players

carbomwhat starstarstarstar Thu 4/26/2007 09:11AM
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I wouldnt want to see Bobby infect Phil's music.

EVILFUNK starstarstarstarstar Fri 4/27/2007 01:50PM
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EVILFUNK a feather in a whilrwind....

PCPrabbit Mon 5/7/2007 12:41PM
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no one even mention sless here! sless absolutely kills it with phil! pedal steel and his dopeness on guitar? sure he doesn't sing, but he needs to come back into the mix! i didnt get to go, but i have a recording of the albany show with barry sless and scofield and the watchtower>midnight hour closer is OFF THE HEAEY FOR REASEY!

koss starstarstarstarstar Fri 5/11/2007 06:59AM
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PC I agree with you!!!
Bring back Sless.
The last summer tour had some great jams and Larry is great too.
Too bad Phil had a rough start coming back from his illness.
We Miss You Phil, come back to Chicago!!!

CSchneids929 starstarstarstarstar Tue 6/5/2007 06:52AM
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mt. jam was insane!!! scofield and haynes were pure rippage. amazing show