Joe Russo’s Almost Dead Performs Songs Selected By Fans At Brooklyn Bowl
Joe Russo’s Almost Dead played a HeadCount benefit at Brooklyn Bowl in New York City on Monday. In keeping with one of the organization’s missions of promoting democratic participation, the band utilized a setlist consisting of songs voted on by fans. Drummer Joe Russo was given the results of a poll held in advance of the concert and combined the 15 songs receiving the most votes into a setlist that included beloved Grateful Dead favorites, an Allman Brothers Band classic and a Bruce Springsteen gem.
The evening started with a speech from HeadCount executive director Andy Bernstein before JRAD took the stage with “Althea,” the song that received the second most votes from fans. “Althea” gave way to “Reuben & Cerise,” which featured an interesting samba-tinged jam that somehow morphed into “The Eleven.” The quintet dropped from “The Eleven” into a swampy “Viola Lee Blues” featuring varied tempos throughout. Next up was a fast-paced “Franklin’s Tower,” another Garcia song, as JRAD guitarist Tom Hamilton had a busy night when it came to singing at Brooklyn Bowl. The potent “Franklin’s” was followed by an emotion-laden take on Springsteen’s “Atlantic City” played in the style of The Band that included a singalong portion.
Joe Russo’s Almost Dead ended last night’s first set with a 35+ minute pairing of “Eyes Of The World” and “In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed.” Guitarist Scott Metzger strung together impressive solos during both songs that showed off his talents, while bassist Dave Dreiwitz used his bass solo to propel the spot-on segue from “Eyes” into JRAD’s first “Liz Reed” since June of 2017. Not only did Metzger shine on the Allman Brothers’ instrumental but keyboardist Marco Benevento made the most of an organ solo in the middle of the song. Russo had a solo of his own to bring “In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed” and the set to its conclusion.
Monday’s second set began in unusual fashion with “St. Stephen.” On January 26, 2013 JRAD made their debut with a performance at Brooklyn Bowl that was supposed to be a one-off. “St. Stephen” was among the highlights that night and the version on Monday displayed the same willingness to go beyond the song’s normal boundaries that has been a trademark of the Joe Russo’s Almost Dead experience. Up next was a funky “Scarlet Begonias” featuring Mu-Tron tones from Hamilton and Rhodes magic from Benevento. The five-piece jammed “Scarlet” into a short but exploratory “Dark Star” that included a taste of “Wharf Rat” and a reprise of “In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed.”
“Dark Star” was followed by the full “Terrapin Station Suite,” which was the top vote-getter and spanned over 35 minutes. A riotous “Shakedown Street” came next before Metzger finally had a chance to channel Bob Weir with “Throwing Stones.” JRAD worked a jam on Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall, Part Two” in the middle of the 20+ minute “Throwing Stones” that ended last night’s second set. The quintet returned to treat the crowd to a “Jack Straw” encore.
Check out the voting results shared by HeadCount:
Listen to an audience recording taped by Jeff Travitz and processed by Keith Litzenberger below:
Pro-Shot Video (via The Relix Channel)
St. Stephen > Scarlet Begonias
In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed Captured by Jefe Birkner
Terrapin Station Suite > Shakedown Street Captured by Monica Hampton
Set One: Althea > The Eleven > Viola Lee Blues > Franklin’s Tower, Atlantic City > Reuben & Cerise > Eyes Of The World > In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed
Set Two: St. Stephen > Scarlet Begonias > Dark Star > Terrapin Station Suite > Shakedown Street > Throwing Stones > Another Brick In The Wall Part 2 jam > Throwing Stones
Encore: Jack Straw