On New Year’s Day, when the news that the surviving members of The Dead were reforming for a spring tour I couldn’t have been more excited. Bob Weir and Phil Lesh have hit the road hard over the past few years and I’ve been underwhelmed with their solo projects. Yesterday, The Dead took Manhattan harder than the Muppets did back in the day performing four times at four completely different venues including a spot on The View. I caught the band’s 8PM show at the Gramercy Theatre and I left an hour later thoroughly impressed and excited to see a show or on the tour.
[All photos by Adam Kaufman]
As a varied mix of Deadheads entered the 700 person capacity theater there was a sense of excitement in the air that all of those with golden tickets felt. The venue filled up just before showtime and The Dead – on a tight schedule – came on shortly after ticket time. Warren Haynes started noodling and his bandmates followed along. Unlike in the solo bands, there was no clear leader which was a marvelous thing. Phil picked up on Warren’s riffs and would follow along for a few minutes before asserting himself. Bobby would throw in some weird, choppy chords that added a nice spice to the mix with all of the ingredients lining up for an interesting jam that was more psychedelic than blues.
The jams on this evening were reminiscent of ’73 Dead – one of my favorite periods. Keyboardist Jeff Chimenti channeled Keith Godchaux thanks to a slew of rollicking ragtime licks and quick changes in tempo. Eventually, the jam turned a corner and the band kicked off Playing In The Band. Bob Weir has taken some knocks lately for his singing, but he did a nice job with one of his signature songs. The Dead sounded surprisingly tight for a band that hasn’t started their tour yet.
READ ON for more of Scotty’s thoughts on The Dead…