Phil Lesh & Friends 2.17.12

1stBank Center
Broomfield, CO

Words & Photos By Nicholas Stock

After getting off of work on Friday, Amy and I grabbed a couple friends and headed down 287 to the First Bank Center. Since we arrived a little after 7:00 pm, we got in line and went inside. The room wasn’t overly packed but definitely full. We found a place in the back corner of the venue. My pictures aren’t great from that night because we were unable to obtain a photo pass so for me this coverage is a lot like a flashback to a year ago when I would just bring my camera to shows and get whatever. Since photo access is still relatively new to me, I wasn’t upset I just want to get the best coverage I could get given the circumstances. The show began promptly at 8:06 PM. They started with a jam into "Althea."

Phil Lesh and Friends Live at 1st Bank Center on February 17, 2012.

SET I: Jam> Althea> Estimated Prophet> Eyes Of The World> Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodle-oo> Loose Lucy, Ball And Chain, She Said She Said> Casey Jones

SET II: Passenger, New Speedway Boogie, Low Spark of High Heeled Boys> Space> Gypsy Woman> Caution (Do Not Stop ON The Tracks)>Low Spark of High Heeled Boys> Unbroken Chain, Dark Star> I Am The Walrus> Dark Star, Morning Dew

ENCORE: And We Bid You Goodnight

The overall flow of the show was slow, with some powerful highlights. I understand that Phil will be turning 72 next month, so the lack of raw energy is to be expected. The combination of Scolfield, Haynes and Greene on guitar lead to a convoluted sound at times, but the talent onstage made for some stellar moments. I guess in retrospect I just have mixed feelings about this show, but I’ll get into that later. Sitting in the back of the bus during the first set we practically had an entire row to ourselves. The opening run of "Althea" into "Estimated" into "Eyes" was the best offering of the first set. Phil took over vocal duties on "Eyes of The World," and even in his old age he nailed it. I like Phil’s voice, but in small doses. He limited himself to one lead song per set and did what he does best, taking a backup role the rest of the time. "Loose Lucy" was another nice touch as well, but again the set seemed to drag. The end finally found some invigoration with the "She Said She Said" into "Casey Jones," which saw the energy I had been searching for from the beginning.

The second set would be a 180-degree turn around from the first with some amazing moments. The one thing I will comment on is that the crowd in the stands around us seemed unengaged with the show. People just jabbered away during the show, I’m not sure if this was a product of the drugs they were on or the music, but it became a huge distraction. We finally moved a couple rows up to get away from the noise only to have an overzealous fan literally having a Philgasm over my shoulder. Needless to say I found it hard to concentrate on the music with so many different disruptions.

The "New Speedway Boogie" with Jackie on vocals, had an refreshed feel that saw some ripping guitar solos passed around between the three. Traffic’s "Low Spark" seemed to stretch on and on with Phil dropping bass bombs throughout. The interlude of "Space> Gypsy Woman> Caution," was interesting and definitely something for the hardcore Deadheads to enjoy. Phil announced the return of "Low Spark" with yet another bass drop for the audience. The "Unbroken Chain" again saw Phil on vocals which was to be expected, but the segue into "Dark Star" was anything but. This was perhaps the peak of the show with an "I Am The Walrus" interlude before they went back into "Dark Star." They closed the second set with a beautiful "Morning Dew."

Phil came out first for his Donor Rap before we were treated to an acapella version of "We Bid You Good Night." Jackie brought out his banjo but after a few strums he realized it was out of tune and opted to only lightly pluck at it. The show looks amazing on paper but the combination of talkative fans and low energy left me unhappy with the overall experience. There were some strong moments and some great individual songs but the show lacked flow and passion. Another issue that I had was that I set my expectations fairly high with the amount of talent in the room. I left feeling happy to have witnessed the concert, but still wanting more. Saturday would be all that I was yearning for on Friday and much, much more.

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