The brand-new The Anthem in Washington, D.C. hosted the return of Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh to the nation’s capital on Wednesday night. Lesh embarked on his first multi-city tour, albeit a short one, since retiring from regular touring at the end of 2013. Phil teamed with The Terrapin Family Band, vocalist Nicki Bluhm, sacred steel specialist Robert Randolph and New Orleans fixtures Preservation Hall Jazz Band at The Anthem on opening night.
Lesh, The Terrapin Family Band, Bluhm and Randolph opened with “Mason’s Children” ahead of a pretty “They Love Each Other” led by guitarist Grahame Lesh. Phil then stepped into the spotlight to sing one of his traditional covers, Robbie Robertson’s “Broken Arrow.” Next up were chances for Nicki to show off her massive talent on the Motown hit “I Second That Emotion” and sharing vocals with Alex Koford on the late ’70s Grateful Dead gem “Passenger.” Guitarist Ross James then led one of two originals played at The Anthem, “What She Said” before the ensemble brought the set to a close with “Bertha” and “Cumberland Blues.”
When Phil, The TXR Band, Nicki and Robert returned to the stage for the second set, they were joined by Preservation Hall Jazz Band. The stage was filled for a wild “Viola Lee Blues” > “The Other One” sequence that spanned nearly a half-hour. Up next was a Koford-led cover of “Monkey Man” by The Rolling Stones. Preservation Hall Jazz Band then took over the stage to show off two songs from their recent album So It Is. The group’s Ben Jaffe shouted out the great Fats Domino, another NOLA legend who passed away prior in the day, during “La Malanga.”
The Terrapin Family Band, Lesh, Bluhm and Randolph swapped in and PHJB swapped out for Phil to lead a masterful “Terrapin Station Suite” that included “Lady With A Fan,” “Terrapin Station,” “Terrapin Transit,” “At A Siding,” “Terrapin Flyer” and “Jack O’ Roses.” After 36 minutes of “Terrapin” love, the ensemble said farewell with an “I Know You Rider” set closer and “Ripple” encore. Next up for Phil and the gang is a show in Asbury Park on Thursday night.
Stream audio of the tour opener thanks to Alex Leary:
Here’s video captured by TimeZonerTV:
Set One: Mason’s Children, They Love Each Other, Broken Arrow, Second That Emotion, Passenger, What She Said > Bertha, Cumberland Blues
Set Two: Viola Lee Blues* > The Other One* > Monkey Man*, Throwing Stones*, La Malanga**, Convergence**, Terrapin Station Suite Including Jack O’ Roses, I Know You Rider
Encore: Donor Rap, Ripple
* – w/ Preservation Hall Jazz Band, ** – Just PHJB
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