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Published: 2009/09/21

Phil Lesh and Bob Weir Go Furthur

Phil Lesh and Bob Weir introduced Furthur, their latest post-Grateful Dead band, at Oakland, CA’s Fox Theatre this past weekend. In addition to Weir and Lesh, the multi-generational band features The Duo’s Joe Russo (drums), Dark Star Orchestra’s John Kadlecik (guitar) and two additional members of Weir’s RatDog: Jeff Chimenti (keyboards) and Jay Lane (drums). The band’s three, two-set shows touched on a range of Grateful Dead material, from forgotten early songs like “King Solomon’s Marbles” to 1980s hits such as “Touch of Grey.”

Symbolically, the evening opened with Weir and Lesh alone onstage. The two musicians jammed together for a few minutes, before the rest of the band emerged for a fitting “The Other Ones.” The group then segued into “The Wheel” and “Jack Straw.” The band’s second set featured standout versions of “Scarlet Begonias,” “Fire on the Mountain,” “St. Stephen,” “The Eleven” and “Terrapin Station.”

Phil Lesh’s son Grahame opened the second night of the band’s run with his band Vice. Furthur then emerged for a two-set show that kicked off with a run from “Bertha” into “Good Lovin’.” The real meat of the evening took place during set two and included “Shakedown Street,” “New Speedway Boogie,” “China Cat Sunflower,” “I Know You Rider” “Playing In The Band,” “Eyes Of The World,” “Unbroken Chain” and the complete trilogy of “Help On The Way,” “Slipknot!” and “Franklin’s Tower.”

“The jam opening Night Two, Set Two was tremendous and, I thought, had ‘Help on the Way’ written all over it,” longtime Dead scribe Blair Jackson wrote “on the Dead’s Road Journal“http://www.dead.net/features/road/furthur-fox-night-two. “You know how, as a fan, you lock into an idea about where a jam is going and you start to intuit how they’re going to get to a song from the jam? Well, in my twisted brain I could see exactly how this was going to fall into the majestic opening riff of “Help on the Way”! But I was completely wrong! What followed was one of those earthquake-inducing explosions into “Shakedown,” and you’re sure as hell not gonna hear me bitchin’ about that! It was phat and phunky, nicely sung by JK, with expansive jams between the second and third verse, and of course after the final verse. That eventually found its way to the ominous rumble of ‘New Speedway Boogie’ (with more traded verses) which I thought was one of the best numbers of the night. I especially dug the jam after it when John switched on his octave divider and uncorked this deep but piercing line—good stuff!”

As expected, Furthur’s third performance opened with the Sunday staple “Samson & Delilah.” The focused on sing-along favorites like “Casey Jones” “Mississippi Half-Step,” “Sugaree” and “Throwing Stones” first set and early psychedelic favorites such as “Viola Lee Blues,” “King Solomon’s Marbles” and “Dark Star” second set. The sextet also debuted a new Lesh song—“Welcome To The Dance” and ran through staples such as “Uncle Johns Band” and a show-closing “Sugar Magnolia.”

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