Review: Dark Star Orchestra @ Nokia

As my friend Ginz mentioned on Saturday night, the second night of Red Rocks ’78 contains two of the most perfect Dead sets ever. We got a nice mix of cowboy songs, ballads, epic jammers and balls out rockers all played with exceptional precision. El Paso sounded great until the group of people behind me started singing at the top of their lungs. Yet, they were so into it I couldn’t help but smile. And there were smiles everywhere at the Nokia. Deadheads young and old hooted and hollered along with every song and most of the folks in the seats stood and danced for most of the evening. The vibe was great and it seemed like a family affair with many fans bringing their friends along for the concert.

Speaking of family, Saturday night’s concert was a Rex Foundation Black Tie Dye Ball featuring a reception with the band and a silent auction. Among those making it out to the Nokia for the event was former NBA star and current broadcaster Bill Walton. In fact, Walton and a number of DSO friends and family joined the band’s drummers to add percussion to the Rhythm Devils’ segment.

While each of the band members add to the DSO experience, gutarist John Kadlicek as Jerry Garcia stood out on this night. He plays the role of ’78 Jerry very well right down to the Wolf lookalike axe he strummed. The Grateful Dead could bring a crowd to their knees with a ballad, something that no other jamband since has been able to achieve. Kadlicek’s able to draw those same emotions with his powerful vocals. I hate to compare this band to Phil Lesh’s current band, but considering I saw both bands at the same venue within a few weeks I just can’t help it. There wasn’t one member of Phil’s band that could touch the vocal prowess of Kadlicek, Rob Eaton (as Bob Weir) or Lisa Mackey. Kadlicek’s spine-tingling delivery of Ship of Fools nearly brought a tear to my jaded eye.

As I mentioned earlier, Donna Jean Godchaux MacKay and Lisa Mackey switched on and off with Lisa getting most of the stage time. If you listen to the soundboard recording of the Wharf Rat from 7/8/1978 you’ll notice Jerry audibly “shhhh” Donna as she gets overly zealous during the bridge. My friends and I were wondering if Kadlicek would throw a “shhhh” to Donna, but it didn’t happen as Mackey was onstage for that tune. Overall Donna sounded great, although legendary GD mixmaster Dan Healy seemed to keep her low in the mix. Healy did a stellar job otherwise as did the band’s Lighting Director.

Dark Star Orchestra ended the second set with a bombastic Franklin’s Tower > Sugar Magnolia that featured peak after peak. The band returned to the stage to perform the triple encore from 7/8/1978 of Terrapin > One More Saturday Night and Werewolves of London along with a Second That Emotion filler that sent the crowd home satisfied. Those of us in the New York City-area won’t have to wait long for another dose of DSO as the band returns to the area on December 30 for their first gig at Montclair’s Wellmont Theater. The group heads to Baltimore the next night for a Cosmic New Year’s celebration at Ram’s Head.

Set #1:Bertha->Good Lovin, Dire Wolf, El Paso, The Roses, Minglewood Blues, Ramble on Rose, Promised Land, Deal
Set #2: Samson & Delilah, Ship of Fools, Estimated Prophet->The Other One->Eyes of the World->Family Drums->Wharf Rat->Franklins Tower->Sugar Magnolia
Encore: Terrapin->Saturday Night, Werewolves
Filler: Second that Emotion

Related Content

4 Responses

  1. DSO rocked the house for two nights, the crowd was dancing and grooving all night long……as the article said young and old………..two sell out shows for Nokia………….us oldtimers are ” GRATEFUL ” to be able to once againg hear it live and with such dedication and feeling by all of the DSO Band Members……………for you youngsters and newer family members…….you are getting to experience perfection of the best days of the “GRATEFUL DEAD” never take that for granted…just ask some of us older folks you see in the crowds…….there were days when the GRATEFUL DEAD were just not playing on a cylinders…….saddly more towards the end of their time together…… DSO energizies for you.soulful beauty and energizing waves of musical spirit…………….KEEP that in mind when you speak of Donna Jean…..see is an Elder family member and has been doing this for a long time…..she still delivers it with soul….maybe even more now than in her earlier days………and her protage Lisa………belts them out and mixes so beautifuly with the spirits of those gone before us all…………DSO blends their soulful musical interpertations for us all and the vibe that is created is transending for all the planet and her people………………… be kind to others especially your Elders and remember to live the PEACE and SOULFUL energies created by this music !

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Recent Posts

New to Glide

Keep up-to-date with Glide