Phil Lesh & Friends Resume Capitol Theatre Residency With Benmont Tench, Fruit Bats & Others
Listen to a recording of the show in Port Chester, New York.
Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh unveiled a new Phil Lesh & Friends lineup on Monday at The Capitol Theatre featuring Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers keyboardist Benmont Tench, guitarists Fruit Bats (Eric D. Johnson), Josh Kaufman and Grahame Lesh, drummer Joe Russo, Amy Helm on vocals and mandolin and Stuart Bogie on saxophone, flute and clarinet. The fourth show of Phil Lesh & Friends’ nine-concert residency at the Port Chester, New York venue saw the ensemble utilize a setlist filled with GD classics as well as The Band and Bruce Springsteen covers.
Phil took the stage with Benmont, Eric, Josh, Grahame, Joe and Stuart to start the action with a jam that led into an “Althea” sang by Johnson. Amy Helm then emerged to front the ensemble on “Alice D. Millionaire,” one of the earliest Grateful Dead originals. Bogie moved from sax to flute for a gorgeous “Crazy Fingers” featuring Grahame Lesh on lead vocals. Grahame and Josh Kaufman traded off powerful guitar solos before Johnson stepped back into the spotlight and Bogie returned to sax for a high octane “Greatest Story Ever Told.”
Amy Helm played mandolin and handled lead vocals on the ensuing cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City” performed in the style of The Band, a group featuring her father, Levon Helm. A rousing “Deal” with more fretboard fireworks from Josh Kaufman and Grahame Lesh, organ blasts a plenty from Benmont Tench and strong sax work via Stuart Bogie followed. While Johnson fronted “Deal,” Grahame Lesh was tapped to sing the beautiful “Brokedown Palace” set closer.
The musicians returned sans Amy Helm to kick off the second set with beloved song suite “China Cat Sunflower”/”I Know You Rider.” Tench starred on the transition jam with swirling organ while Amy came back in time to sing harmony on “Rider.” A euphoric “The Wheel” turned up next propelled by Russo, Phil’s bandmate in Furthur from 2009 – 2014. The band took “The Wheel” deep and jammed the song into a Phil-sung “New Potato Caboose.”
Phil Lesh & Friends continued the dark and intense feel to the frame with Amy Helm channeling Ron “Pigpen” McKernan on “The Stranger (Two Souls In Communion).” All three guitarists let it fly while Bogie dug in on sax for an intense jam towards the end of the song ahead of a transition into “Wharf Rat.” Eric D. Johnson belted out the Garcia/Hunter ballad with authority. Next came Phil’s signature tune, “Box Of Rain,” and a sizzling “Sugar Magnolia” sang by Grahame to end the set on an energetic note.
The bassist came out after the encore break to urge the audience to become organ donors and tell their friends (since proof of COVID-19 vaccination was required for entry) to “get the fucking vax.” Johnson went without his guitar in leading the ensemble through The Band’s “Ophelia” to begin an encore that also featured a “Ripple” played at a fast tempo. Phil Lesh & Friends return to The Capitol Theatre tonight. A livestream can be purchased via FANS.
Hear last night’s show taped by Z-Man:
Watch pro-shot video via Relix featuring the start of each set below:
Set One: Jam > Althea > Alice D. Millionaire, Crazy Fingers > Greatest Story Ever Told, Atlantic City, Deal, Brokedown Palace
Set Two: China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider, The Wheel > New Potato Caboose > The Stranger (Two Souls In Communion) > Wharf Rat > Box Of Rain, Sugar Magnolia
Encore: Ophelia, Ripple