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
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.
Phil Lesh by Weiand
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."
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.
Larry Campbell by Chapman
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.
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.
Steve Molitz by Earl Gardner
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.
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.
Phil Lesh by Weiand
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.
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."
John Molo by Minkin
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
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
JamBase | New York
Go See Live Music!