Furthur, Red Rocks, Morrison, CO – 9/24
Bob Weir with Furthur earlier this year – photo by Craig Taraszki
Furthur opened their much anticipated three night weekend run to a sold out Red Rocks crowd. If you have not been to a show at Red Rocks, you should make it a point to visit this gorgeous venue. Sure, most everyone has heard this, but the truth to this statement cannot be overstated. This venue creates such an incredible vibe and the pure beauty of the place makes it seemingly impossible to have a bad show here.
Furthur opened the night with a solid “Truckin.” This tune has been preceded by lengthy jams throughout Furthur’s existence and Friday was no different. It seemed the perfect way to ease into the weekend. The transition from the jam into the opening notes of “Truckin” was flawless as would be the case throughout the night. Bob Weir managed to provide his quintessential lyrical flub in the opening lines of “Truckin” but other than that this was a great version. “Truckin” segued into “New Speedway Boogie” sung by John Kadlecik. The crowd was not shy in belting out the lyrics, “Spent a little time on the mountain, spent a little time on the hill…” Phil Lesh then led the band through a solid version of “Cosmic Charlie” that led into one of the highlights of the night, “West L.A. Fadeaway.” This tune showed why Furthur is the best post Grateful Dead outfit so far. Furthur took “West L.A. Fadeaway” and made it new. The tempo was slowed and the whole feel of the tune was downright gritty. This song will always get a crowd moving, but on this evening there was a blues feel to it that really left a lot of room for improvisation and guitar solos from both Kadlecik and Weir as well as piano solos from Jeff Chimenti.
From “West L.A. Fadeaway,” Furthur dropped into a funky version of “Deep Elem Blues.” The crowd danced along to this fresh take on an old classic as the group went into a standard version of “Ashes and Glass” and then into a fun “Friend of the Devil.” Still, the first set closer, “Casey Jones” was the highlight of the first set, as Furthur played a hard driving version of this tune that dropped into a jam that saw Weir, Kadlecik, and Chimenti trading licks over the top of Joe Russo’s determined drumming. “Casey Jones” had the Red Rocks crowd in a frenzy as Furthur went to set break.
The energy was sustained as the band came out and opened the set with “Scarlet Begonias.” The jam out of “Scarlet” was shorter than other Furthur versions of this tune and led into a rare “Big Bad Blues.” The jam into the song was dark and spacey and Furthur kept the mood dark as they dropped into “Mountains of the Moon,” with lead vocals from Phil. This portion of the second set seemed to really take some of the air out of the venue as Furthur took their jams deeper and darker. They came out of the spacey jam slowly and dropped into a much needed “Eyes of the World.” With Phil on vocals, “Eyes of the World” got the crowd back to feeling rowdy and seamlessly transitioned into a rocking “Fire on the Mountain.” This song brought the crowd all the way from the earlier more abstract jams as the group led the crowd through a “Fire on the Mountain” dance party. The darker energy then returned with “Death Don’t Have No Mercy” in what felt like a really awkward spot for this tune. This was followed by an enjoyable take on “Uncle John’s Band” and the set ending sing along, “Not Fade Away”. A surprising encore of “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues” was well received and had the Red Rocks crowd ready for two more nights.
Bob Weir and Phil Lesh have have not only surrounded themselves with some great musicians, they’ve also surrounded themselves with young guys that have seemingly given these two cagey veterans a touch of youth. Phil Lesh and Bob Weir have played tunes like “West L.A. Fadeaway” hundreds of times but Furthur has put its own stamp on the tune and made it seem new and fresh. It seems a fresh take on some of these songs is exactly what these guys needed.