Phil Lesh & Friends 2.18.12
Words & Photos By Nicholas Stock
After a slow night musically on Friday, I was ready to jump back in the saddle for Phil’s last night in Colorado. We hopped in Scottie and Ro’s minivan with Eric and Cathy and hit the road. We stopped by Oskar Blues’ Liquids and Solids for a nice dinner and few brews before we made it to the Lot. The food was excellent and it was a great way to start the evening. Our friends roamed around a bit but Amy and I went inside to get a spot on the floor. We ended up in the fifth row in the Phil zone. Phil and Friends took the stage around 8:10 PM and opened with a beautiful "Golden Road."
Phil Lesh and Friends Live at 1st Bank Center on February 18, 2012.
SET I: Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion)> Viola Lee Blues> Bertha, Cumberland Blues, Friend Of The Devil, Candyman, He’s Gone> Cold Rain and Snow
SET II: St. Stephen> The Eleven> Foxy Lady Jam> Layla, Bird Song, Uncle John’s Band> Stella Blue, I Know You Rider, Going Down The Road Feeling Bad> Attics of My Life
ENCORE: Box Of Rain
This show has absolutely everything I could have asked for. The entire first set was classic early 70’s Dead. From the get go the whole band seemed locked in and ready to play. The avant garde stuff was kept at a minimum with the band only venturing down this path a few times as opposed to the extended off the wall jams on Friday. Scolfield’s playing can only really be categorized as genius as he found ways to weave in and out of Jackie’s and Warren’s shredding. Phil’s role as the bandleader became truly apparent during "Bertha." The "Cumberland Blues" was solid with Greene bringing out his banjo again and taking lead vocals. The "Friend of The Devil" was brilliant, followed directly by a bouncy "Candyman." As the opening riff of "He’s Gone" drifted over the crowd I knew that this was going to be the best show of the run.
Being in the 5th row I noticed the musical interplay much better than I could from the back. At times both Warren and Scolfield were simply laying down a basic rhythm or barely playing. I suppose this is the price you pay having a band with three guitarists, two of which are so far in the upper echelon of the instrument that not having them on lead feels like a tragedy. I also noticed that Greene seemed a little uneasy with some of the changes and looked to Phil for direction more than once. The transition into "Cold Rain and Snow" was as Scottie put it, "like pots and pans." The segue was sublime and the Obray Ramsey penned tune is one of my favorites from the Dead catalog. The set ended with a bang and we moved to back to hang out with our van-mates as well as my brother who made it to the final night of the run.
Phil and Friends came back with an explosive "St. Stephen" into "The Eleven." The room was literally buzzing with energy and thankfully this time we were surrounded by friends who were there for the music. Warren had been tossing in teases throughout all of the shows including "Age of Aquarius" and a play on "Bid You Goodnight" in the first set. He continued the trend with a take on "Foxy Lady" before he killed the slide on "Layla." The extended jam on "Layla" was epic and a huge peak of the second set. "Bird Song" was like the other side of the coin to the "Cold Rain and Snow" and came off masterfully. The "Uncle John’s" into "Stella Blue" was yet another high water mark in a show filled to the brim with them. Warren’s vocals on "Stella Blue" brought tears to the eyes of many in attendance. The energy got a shot in the arm with "Rider" and "Going Down The Road Feeling Bad." The "Attics Of My Life" closer was stunning and left me utterly overjoyed with the show.
Phil came back for his "Donor Rap" before he led a quick "Box of Rain" to send us all packing. The Saturday night show had everything that I yearned for in Friday. My two nights with Phil were both fun and musically commanding, but the closer was so much more. The assembled lineup managed to reach their full potential with this show and as I walked out into the midnight air I felt completely satisfied. I learned from my experience on Phil’s second night to never set my expectations too high and to always take what is given. Phil doesn’t have too many of these runs left on the horizon so I am truly grateful whenever I am privileged enough to see him live. I hope that he continues to bring joy to thousands as he has done for so long. As I look forward to another summer filled with music I can only hope that it includes another dose of Phil Lesh, master of the six string bass.
Nicholas' Photo Gallery