Phil Lesh & Friends | 10.02.07

lesh.jpgThis year’s lineup of "Friends" was pretty much all new, aside from Molo and Lesh; and just knowing there would be no Warren Haynes was a letdown in advance.  



The Pageant, St. Louis

I am a second generation Deadhead and a die-hard fan of the band since my first Grateful Dead show at Alpine Valley Music Theater back in 1989. When good old Uncle Jerry passed on to the next life in 1995, the band and the heads were left to pick up the pieces and move on as best we could. Hoping to recapture even just a sliver of the magic, we went to see Dead bassist extraordinaire Phil Lesh and his rotating band of "Friends," or Bob Weir and Rat Dog. I have always been partial to Bobby myself, mainly because Lesh’s "singing" voice (if you can call it that) leaves much to be desired. But Phil & Friends are more about the music – capturing that "spark," the indefinable Dead moment that happens during the long, extended jams. As Deadheads have known for decades, "If Phil’s on, the band’s on." In many of Garcia’s darkest days of drug use, when he often struggled onstage, Lesh was truly the heartbeat of the Dead.

 I have now seen multiple incarnations of Phil Lesh & Friends, and I think most heads would agree that the real "heyday" for the post-Dead band was pretty much any time Warren Haynes was playing guitar and handling primary vocal duties. Haynes, quite possibly the "hardest working man in show business," multitasked for several years as a member of Phil & Friends, the Allman Brothers Band and his own band, Gov’t Mule, kicking ass and taking names in all three. Along with Haynes, former Aquarium Rescue Unit guitarist Jimmy Herring (now with Widespread Panic), Zen Tricksters keyboardist Rob Barraco and drummer John Molo, Lesh played some truly amazing shows, and even recorded an album of original music, There and Back Again, in 2002.

I’ll admit I was somewhat jaded when I arrived at The Pageant – the most intimate venue I have seen Lesh play. This year’s lineup of "Friends" was pretty much all new, aside from Molo and Lesh; and just knowing there would be no Warren Haynes was a letdown in advance. But I tried to remain open minded. I had read up a bit on guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Larry Campbell, Particle keyboardist Steve Molitz and 25-year-old guitar virtuoso Jackie Greene, all of whom seemed worthy of sharing the stage with a legend like Lesh; and they were. Yet, I have to say, I was still slightly disappointed.

Though there were some solid jams throughout the show, this incarnation of the band gets to the point much more quickly. First set highlights included crowd favorites "Deal" and "Loose Lucy," and a killer "Cosmic Charlie" to close. The second set heated up for "The Other One" leading into "Fire on the Mountain" and then into Dead anthem "Not Fade Away." However, the single encore of the predictable Lesh classic "Box of Rain" left much to be desired; not exactly ending the show on a high note.

Although the crowd was good and the Pageant is a great room in which to experience band such as this, it was still one of my least favorite Phil Lesh & Friends shows I have seen. Now I’m really looking forward to that Gov’t Mule show next month at the Pageant so I can get my Warren Haynes fix. | Amy Burger


Set 1:

Good Morning Little Schoolgirl>
Tell Me, Mama (Dylan)
Deep Elem Blues
Loose Lucy
I’m So Gone
The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down
Cosmic Charlie

Set 2:

Playing in the Band>
Spots of Time
*Loan Me A Dime
The Other One>
Fire on the Mountain>
Not Fade Away
Playing Reprise

E: Donor Rap / Intros
Box of Rain

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