Phil and Friends, Fillmore Denver, CO & Dobson Arena Vail, CO- 4/5 & 4/6
These two shows made for a well-needed getaway out of Atlanta. The weather in
Colorado the whole weekend was amazing. It's so cool to see snowcapped mountains with people trying to ski in April, and people walking around in shorts
enjoying the 70 degree weather. The Rockies never cease to amaze me either.
It's so cool to look out and see these monstrous peaks- it makes me feel small.
All week leading up to this show I checked the setlists and noticed that Warren
still had not sang Wharf Rat, the tune I've been wanting to hear him sing as
long as he's been in this lineup. I joked that it would be played that Thursday
night before I arrived, and sure enough it was along with a second set
guest appearance by Derek Trucks. But enough of what I didn't see- what we did see
Friday night was a great first set, and in my opinion a slow, awkward second
set. The first set was full of inspired jamming that reached some
really nice peaks. Low spark rocked, no matter how many times I've heard
Warren sing it in the last year. As typical of Phil shows the teases were
full on all over the set. Tears of a Clown could be heard all over the
place in the transitions between songs. Southern Man appeared during Doin' That Rag, and Rider was teased throughout the first set.
Warren and Jimmy played with much energy all first set, but the second set
didn't seem to flow all that well until the closing Help>Slipnot>Franklin's
which reached some really nice places with Warren
using his envelope filter to perfection. Attics of my Life closed out this
show and was a beautiful and really unexpected way to end a slightly-above-
average show on the whole (for these fine musicians that is). They played a
couple of new songs this show, that quite honestly are going to take me a
while to get used to, though I must say I'm extremely happy to know they are
writing and playing new music to mix in the huge repertoire.
On to Vail.Dobson Arena is a tiny ice rink, with about 10 rows of benches to
one side, a stage setup on one end, and a beer booth on the other. The place
was packed, but still small. We set up about 10 rows back dead center. This
offered perfect viewing of Jimmy, Warren, and occasionally Rob and Phil. Every one
was in fine spirits. This night was Warren's birthday, and what a fine show
we got. From start to finish this one blew the previous night away.
The jam opening the show erupted into the Wheel, a tune I've been waiting to
hear them do live for a while, and it was on. They segued this jam into an
Arcadian Driftwood which proved interesting although I must admit I
hadn't heard it live before. The rest of the set was very strong-the China and
Uncle John's Band got the place moving and shaking with a nice funked out Tennessee Jed in between.
Before the band came back on for the second set, the crowd sang
happy birthday to Warren and the band fooled with it as well before heading into the second new tune of the night the (first being Lay of the Sunflower), Welcome to the Underground, sung by Warren proved to be
my favorite of all the new ones we heard all weekend. An impressive Strawberry Fields followed but the show then took a slight turn into some non-cohesive playing as the
Caution and then Hard to Handle just didn't seem to flow all that well. This changed
quickly, though, with a double decker sandwich to close featuring Viola Lee>Beautifully
Broken>Viola Lee. Warren just nailed the vocals on Beautifully Broken, my favorite new
Mule tune, then back to Viola Lee for a verse and into a full throttle Casey Jones to
end it. Technically, one more verse of Viola Lee really ended it but the Casey
Jones brought the house down. The Golden Road was a fine encore on a night full of rocking tunes that more than made up for any lack of energy on the previous night. The evening then came to a close as Phil and Jimmy Herring sang Happy Birthday
to Warren. That's right, Jimmy Herring's voice ushered us out into the mountain air.