Phil & Friends | 10.31.07 | NYC

Words by: Brian Bavosa :: Images by: Robert Chapman

Phil Lesh & Friends :: 10.31.07 :: Nokia Theatre :: New York, NY

Phil Lesh :: 10.31.07 :: New York
Kicking off an ambitious ten-night stand at New York City's Nokia Theatre Times Square, Phil Lesh & Friends picked the freakiest, spookiest holiday for their opening night to offer us a little extra sugar. With costumes everywhere, including on the theatre staff, the crowd seemed a little more riled up than your average Wednesday night, which I seriously doubt was caused by a chocolate rush from trick-or-treating.

With the stage adorned in jack-o-lanterns, cobwebs and other scary props, Lesh with familiar friends Larry Campbell and John Molo led the way with relative newcomers Steve Molitz (Particle) and Jackie Greene. "Shakedown Street," one of the anthems of the Grateful Dead catalog, appropriately opened the night with a nice disco flavor thanks to Molitz's synthesizer effects. A spirited "Loose Lucy," always a fun tune, followed with the crowd singing along to the line, "Thank you for a real good time!" Greene's harmonica added a little extra spice to this already hot number. Next up was the first Halloween themed tune to poke its head out like a monster in a haunted house, the maiden voyage of "Don't Let The Devil Take Your Mind." The audience welcomed the cloud of spooky darkness while Lesh led the band out to "Candyman," his bass dropping pieces of candy as gooey as marshmallows into our ears while Greene's vocals sparkled.

The addition of Greene has definitely given the current incarnation of P&F a much more bluesy feel than earlier more psychedelic predecessors. This shone through on "I Put A Spell on You," where Greene was cool, haunting and hypnotizing. A bluesy jam with some nice additions by Campbell landed in Phish's "Ghost." It was a treat to hear the song, this time with Molitz handling vocals and an atypical jam in the middle; however, overall it was nothing spectacular, and at times felt flat compared to the original, but definitely an interesting take. "Casey Jones" ended the first set, and the collective jolt of cocaine and the locomotive train power known as John Molo seemed to fire up the crowd something fierce. Lesh spoke in a spooky voice before heading offstage, wishing everyone a "Happy Halloween."

Phil Lesh & Friends :: 10.31.07 :: New York

But, like a stale Snickers at the bottom of the candy bag, the first set seemed just a little less sweet because everyone was expecting Trey Anastasio. When the band returned for set two, Lesh was nowhere to be seen and the rest of the band began playing some creepy background music. Lesh's voice was heard from offstage reading Edgar Allen Poe's The Pit and the Pendulum further setting the ominous mood. Lesh soon joined his mates and steered them further into the outer spaces of "Cryptical Envelopment." He again dipped into his collective bag of tricks, tackling his first ever take on The Who's "Boris The Spider," another appropriate tune on this bone chilling night where Lesh really seemed to be enjoying himself.

Jackie Greene :: 10.31.07
A little later, Lesh again surprised us by debuting Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Chile," conjuring more spirits to really get the cauldron bubbling. Once again an extremely bluesy feel prevailed, and Greene held the reigns until "The Other One" was delivered like a pile driver, Lesh dropping his signature bass-bombs as thick and gooey as a campfire S'more. The finishing kick, starting with the jam into "New Speedway Boogie," had Lesh exerting his authority, dominating this "Rap, Jack," and slamming into a "Fire On The Mountain" that was bouncy as ever. The band showed no signs of letting up as they put out the "Fire" and took a southward turn to another Halloween themed debut, "Sympathy for the Devil." Loads of fun, it had the crowd chanting "Whoo! Whoo!" And if memory serves, the jam out of the opening "Shakedown" even foreshadowed this tune's eventual arrival. A huge "I Know You Rider" put the final carvings on the second set's giant Pumpkin.

The obvious encore call - and a Jerry Garcia Band Halloween tradition - "Werewolves of London" had everyone howling at the moon like wild-eyed maniacs, zombies, and, well, werewolves. The freak parade known as Halloween in New York City saw Phil & Friends announce this run with a slew of tricks and treats, remaining true to The Grateful Dead spirit of craziness and strangeness on October 31.

Set 1: Shakedown Street > Loose Lucy, Don't Let The Devil Take Your Mind, Candyman, I Put A Spell on You > Jam > Story of the Ghost > Casey Jones
Set 2: Jam > Cryptical Envelopment > Boris The Spider > Caution (Do Not Stop On the Tracks) > Voodoo Chile > The Other One > Cryptical Envelopment > New Speedway Boogie > Fire On The Mountain, Sympathy For The Devil > I Know You Rider
Encore: Werewolves Of London

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[Published on: 11/9/07]

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RothburyWithCheese starstarstarstarstar Fri 11/9/2007 03:08PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


When are bobby and phil gonna make up and do a bad ass tour together?

NickBoeka starstarstarstarstar Fri 11/9/2007 05:36PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Good work Brian! This is coming through here in SF soon, for Jackie's birthday and with this current lineup (molitz and greene), my initial throughts were of skepticism, though you managed to convince me to give it a go. I've downloaded some of Jackie's solo stuff recently, and this guy is a really good songwriter, definitely blues based. I'm going to search out the Ghost jam from this night, to see what an "atypical" jam is like. 8>) (though we all know if it's not Phish, it's atypical to begin with).

toestothenose starstarstarstar Sat 11/10/2007 06:44AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Nice work w/ the Halloween theme.

Rich Lieberman starstarstarstarstar Sat 11/10/2007 07:37AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Rich Lieberman

That review put me on a sugar high!

NIce review, I love the selection of songs they played.

Andrew Bruss Sat 11/10/2007 07:49AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Andrew Bruss

I heard that at one of their NYC shows, a bunch of the fine folk "rockin the rasta ganja" made such a cloud that it began wafting into the theater next door that was doing the broadway take on the Lion King. Acunah matattah indeed....

freetime3 starstarstarstarstar Sat 11/10/2007 12:18PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Great review. I bet the encore was howlin.

LiberalsForMichaelSavageIn2008, are Bob and Phil fighting? and ifso why?

johnnygoff starstarstar Sat 11/10/2007 04:26PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


i love the fact that the theatre playing "The Lion King" next door to the NOkia for Phil's 9-night run officially complained of the weed smoke smell oozing into their theatre next door from the Nokia. You can't take the Dead out of NYC...haha...priceless. oh, good review BB.

yemmw Sun 11/11/2007 03:54PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


I Put A Spell On You > Jam > Ghost > Casey Jones sounds awesome. Second set looks cool too.

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstarstar Mon 11/12/2007 05:05AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

where can I see the entire setlist for all ten nights???????

there is no link here!!!!

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstarstar Mon 11/12/2007 05:06AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

nevermind.. I see now.. haha. I have cobwebs in the brain from a PANICS last nite of the tour :)

nfenne starstarstar Mon 11/12/2007 06:30AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


"But, like a stale Snickers at the bottom of the candy bag, the first set seemed just a little less sweet because everyone was expecting Trey Anastasio."

It sad that expectations of another musician who wasn't on the bill caused you to not enjoy the first set. I've come to find as of late that if you expect anything from Trey you'll be disappointed.

headie420 Mon 11/12/2007 06:55AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I can't wait to hear this show, the setlist looks impressive, I'm wondering what Ghost is like ?!?!?!?!

welting Mon 11/12/2007 08:49AM
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Boooris the spiiiider

RothburyWithCheese starstarstarstarstar Mon 11/12/2007 03:08PM
-2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


I've kept reading that there is some tension between them. If not why would Bobby drop boring ass Ratdog and jam with Phil and Friends.

USCTrojans4Life starstarstarstarstar Tue 11/13/2007 07:43AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


MICHELLESAVAGE, you are a wiener! I can show you some tension if you want. Maybe I'll see you at the steers and queers show in austin.

phishstir starstarstarstarstar Wed 11/14/2007 12:58AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Digging the Dew, Phil!