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Published: 2001/12/05
by Dan Greenhaus

Phil and Friends with Bob Weir, Greg Osby, Beacon Theater, NYC- 12/3

There are very few bands around today that exhibit the night in and night
out chemistry that Phil and Friends display. Most everyone agrees that they have
moved beyond a "Dead cover band" and have become something else, something
all their own. After going through several line-ups, Phil has settled in
with the current group very nicely. Of course, having two guitar players of
the caliber of Jimmy Herring and Warren Haynes doesn't hurt, not to mention
a piano player who has spent his entire life playing your music.
Nonetheless, adding Bob Weir to the mix had the entire crowd in a pre-show
state of frenzy. In addition, there were more rumors surrounding this show
than any in recent memory. There was word that of Trey, Mike and Page
would be coming down as well as horn player extrodinaire Greg Osby.
Greg was the only one to show and he played on the entire second set,
however many people were happy enough just to have Phil on stage for
so long with Bobby.

The show opened just after 8:30 with a quick jam which went right into
"Sugar Magnolia" and from the first moment Bob sang, the crowd was
energized. Unfortunately, the first song suffered
as the volume was considerably lower than it should have been, which took
away from the song. "Sugar Mags" was exceptional nonetheless, and it went
right into "Not Fade Away" which really kicked the
show into high gear. The jam coming out of it was long and spacey with some
great slide work by Warren, who was absent from the stage during "Sugar
Magnolia". The jam went very nicely into "The Other One—>Cryptical" which
had the crowd screaming as loud as I've heard a crowd in a while. Bob
then took the Cryptical jam right into "Samson & Delilah" which completed
the nearly forty five minute jam exceptionally. When they finished, the
band took a breath as did the crowd. It was already clear that we would be
getting plenty of Bob tunes which suited everyone just fine. His voice
sounded great, and his rhythm playing was top-notch. When all three guitar
players were on stage, there were very few points where they got in
each others way or were confused as to who would play what part.
"Cassidy" then started up which brought the crowd right back into the groove after the
breather. Jimmy Herring played a beautiful solo in the middle and the
ending jam was a monster as it fell right into "Sunshine Daydream",
completing the set.

Bob and Phil then came out alone before the second set and said a couple of
positive things about New York which brought loud cheers from the crowd. If
you are not from here in New York City, then it's hard to understand exactly
what makes it so tough for some people on a daily basis and how much all
these benefit shows mean to so many people.

The rest of the band came out, and after a lengthy jam, settled down into my
personal favorite Bob tune, "Playin in the Band". The song was tight, but
the jam seemed to meander for a little too long. It sounded great, I just
thought it lacked direction. Eventually it did, though, sliding into "Bird Song",
which also featured some loud vocals from the audience. Osby shined here as well, evoking memories for many of Branford Marsalis' first show with the Dead at Nassau on 3/29/90. Continuing the jam, the song went right into
"Dark Star" which had been teased on several occasions previously. One
verse was sang, and the first jam went right into "West L.A. Fadeaway".
Bobby was really on all night, directing the band and calling changes. "West
L.A." went back into the second "Dark Star" verse, which then went into
"Uncle John's Band", which featured another blistering Jimmy Herring lead.
Tonight was a perfect example of how well Jimmy and Warren are listening to one
another. They never step on each others toes or cross lines. They constantly
complement one another, always leading for the song or sacrificing for the song, never for themselves.
"Uncle John's Band" then segued amazingly well into "I Know you Rider".
Although not my favorite song from the Dead repertoire, "Rider" closed the set perfectly
well, with Warren belting out the lyrics. When the song was over, and it
was clear the set was too, Phil took the microphone and said, "We'll be back
in a little bit", implying a third set, which sent the audience into a real

The band came out after only about fifteen minutes and started up "Truckin",
which got the tired crowd dancing again. The jam out of it was tight and
funky as it moved into "Good Lovin" with some impromptu lyrics from Bob
about the police and fire depts. Rather than end "Good Lovin" the band kept
it going into a great jam which featured a perfect Bob-led return to the
unfinished "Playin in the Band" to close the show.

Amazing. One word to describe the night. The show was essentially one long jam with
Bob singing virtually every song. The first set was, from start to finish,
one of the best sets of music I've ever heard. If nothing else, this show solidified many
people's desire to go to the west coast New Year's shows, which if they are
half as good as Monday nights show, would still be quite impressive.

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