Words by: Brian Bavosa :: Images by: Robert Chapman
Phil Lesh & Friends :: 10.31.07 :: Nokia Theatre :: New York, NY
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.
| Phil Lesh :: 10.31.07 :: New York|
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.
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.
| Jackie Greene :: 10.31.07|
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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