Dave was at work on time, but they weren't letting any public into his building, so that was a waste! He eventually was able to leave and go home to nap and recharge. Sarah and I got in a full day's work at home (interrupted by shoveling), and were more than ready for another go by the end of the afternoon.
Getting into Boston soon after rush hour is usually a challenge, but was a breeze that March 8th as not many people had been in the city for work that day. We parked at the same garage under the State Transportation Building and met Dave at Wirth's for another fine dinner (I had a hockey puck burger) and a few beers. We left his bag back at the car and then sauntered over to the Wang.
I should say something about the scene. It was a GD show you know, and there were several people trying to sell some t-shirts, hand-made stuff, jewelry, etc. The sidewalks in front of and across from the Wilbur and Wang on Tremont were jammed with the expected assortment of freaks, many of them with their fingers in the air. But the "dentist convention" scene was a very dominant presence too. Inflating and selling balloons of nitrous oxide was the overwhelming business taking place on the sidewalks that day, and we'd just read a very uncomplimentary story about it. I have no problem with people doing things like making a few bucks by selling drugs or having fun getting high ... absolutely nothing wrong with that! But we'd just read a bit about how the sausage is made and that can give you a different perspective. In any case, the scene being so dominated by a particular brand of commercialism was a bit strange.
Another thing about that night was, I'm glad to say, the wonderful people we met. As mentioned yesterday, the Thursday night show seemed to be the more popular one from the start, and there were some *very* excited people there. We've been fortunate to see Phil and Bob many times in their different ensembles over the past few years. But a lot of the people there at the Wang had not had that chance and were overwhelmingly excited to see the duo in a beautiful theater. None of the people we talked to were from Massachusetts! They'd all driven long distances (sometimes through the storm) from all over to get to Boston. The guys in front of us had driven up from Philadelphia that afternoon and had to drive back after the concert so they could get to work in the morning.
Also as mentioned, we couldn't get three tickets together for that night and so Sarah and I were in the back-right of the orchestra for the first set, and then I swapped with Dave for the second set. That single ticket was in the very middle (left to right and front to back) of the balcony and had better sound but was farther away. And in both locations, we were packed in and had to suffer with loud neighbors. But luckily the "loud" part was not them talking about whatever assholes jabber on about at concerts, they were freaking out at seeing the GD and they were singing the songs (though not as well as the guys on stage :)). We couldn't complain. People had come from all over to see Bob and Phil and experience the magic, and they weren't about to let this experience go quietly.
Well anyway, we settled into our seats and after a while the curtains opened and there were the old guys again with Wally back on percussion. And they opened with one of their most classic songs, a song that everyone loves singing along to, and the sound and screams of delight filled the theater. Here's the first set:
Uncle John's Band
Lazy River Road
New Minglewood Blues
Girl From the North Country
Box Of Rain
- They'd opened with UJB on their first night in New York, so I was a little disappointed that we might have another night of repeats, but how can you be disappointed for long at UJB? And they sure did not stick to a hackneyed blueprint that night!
- BTW was an unexpected gem. John Perry Barlow died recently and this was one of his best lyrics, working with Bob. It's a song that could be interpreted many different ways, but that ultimately speaks to the desperation of being alone in a modern world. And Bobby and Phil sure jammed the heck out of this one ... they've played it before.
- Cosmic Charlie was another surprise. I'd been hoping they'd do a "Furthur song," and this fills the bill as a song Jerry stopped wanting to play but that those two have always killed and did so when they had their great band.
- Lazy River Road was another repeat. I thought it was one of Phil's worst vocals of the Radio City shows and his vocal was not much better in Boston. It's a neat song though and I was glad they gave it a shot.
- Minglewood is one of the most classic GD songs, what can I say? Again, Bobby didn't do this with the brio that I've seen him bring to (e.g.) Fare Thee Well. But this was a more reserved setting and he *did* manage to drool over the Boston phillies (I think it was them he was drooling over).
- And of course the jams were the cream filling. As before, the verses and choruses were fun and people sure were singing along. But the most magic moments were when Bob and Phil turned towards each other, put on their helmets and moon boots, and took us all to outer space.
- I'd been telling Sarah the song titles so she could tweet them but the next one was a poser. It finally dawned on me: one of the most beautiful Dylan songs ever! Apparently, Phil & Friends have covered this but never any other GD band. It was about time and this was one of the most amazing vocal performances of the stand by both Bob and Phil.
- And then they hit those chords for the opening of Box Of Rain and time stood still yet again. They'd encored with this at the first night in NY, but this was another perfect moment for it. People throughout the theater were transfixed and I'm sure many tears were shed at the sound of this. When we got to "... and it's *just* a box of rain," we were all just a puddle of emotion. This was the kind of shared experience that marks the best of seeing live music.
Wow, time to cool down and get ready for one more set. Met up with Dave and we took a break outside, where the dentist convention was going full tilt. Talked some deep Dead with the people out there and we all agreed that that was Larry's guitar on stage again. I don't think any of us were disappointed at the prospect of seeing him and Teresa rock the second set again.
I thought we had plenty of time and was lazily walking up to the balcony after swapping tickets with Dave when the tuning started and soon the curtains opened! The set break must have been half as long as it had been the night before. So I missed the first half of the first song as I was squeezing past people into the middle of the row (they were very nice about it). And I was kicking myself because the first song was fitting to the anniversary of Pigpen's death:
Mountains Of the Moon
Mountains Of the Moon
Viola Lee Blues
- Phil does a great vocal on Alligator and he filled in with the classic "tear down the Fillmore" back choruses.
- They'd done Cassidy in New York and gotten *way* out there and I was looking forward to them doing it again, but Larry had his fiddle for this one and it didn't really take off. Whatever, it's a great song and Larry finally stopped sawing and filled with some great guitar.
- Jack Straw more than made up for any deficiency. As with other songs, this wasn't done with the over-the-top enthusiasm you sometimes expect from Bobby. It was mellow and slow-paced and the duo found echoes in it that hadn't yet been surfaced. They again did this as a "Furthur song" IMO.
- Mountains Of the Moon sandwiching Rosemary was Phil at his late-career utmost. He was getting a little tired by then, but that's to be expected of a guy turning 78 next week! Mountains is a great song, and I was surprised he didn't get Teresa to sing it with him as we'd seen them do before.
- But again, there was a slow song and then there was Cumberland, another of the most classic GD songs. Everyone on stage gave this their all, the crowd was jumping and shouting along, and it was another fantastic set of verses and choruses, wrapping such excellent string work that you couldn't believe it. Larry had his cittern out for this one.
- More sawing violin on Viola Lee, but the sound fit much better on this blues. This was another excuse for the three players to join heads in the middle of the stage and funkify the entire area, with Bob on the screaming sunburst Strat. Teresa did some sweet harmony too.
- Time to wake up the crowd again, and they did a classic Wheel that had everyone singing. I remember Furthur doing this in the Wang and this was perhaps not as excellent, but it was the right medicine at the right time.
- And then they closed the set with Dew! This sure had everybody sitting up and paying attention. And the great thing about it was that Larry was back on acoustic and he played one of the most tasteful lead guitar parts to Dew I've ever heard. He knew it was Bob and Phil's show and he wasn't about to guitar-God-out on us. He played with an authority and a technical excellence but did not outshine the fantastic chords Bob was laying down or his fantastic vocal, or Phil's crescendos.
Ack! The people around me were melting away, on their way back to Philadelphia perhaps, and I was left standing there, watching for Phil and thinking I might never see him in Boston again. He ran around in back of the amps a bit, but then popped out with a spryness belying his age and gave us another rote donor rap, with a Phil grin.
The guys came back out and lit into another Dylan song, that we'd seen RatDog close with in Boston once, It's All Over Now Baby Blue. They dragged it out a bit ... knowing they had a few minutes to get to midnight. But then it was over and they all linked arms at the front of the stage and bowed. I didn't want to see Bob and Phil go, but soon Bob namasted and left stage right, and then Phil ceased puttering with his amps and walked off stage left. Good bye guys, hope to see you again soon. In fact, I'll see the Chicago webcasts this weekend! Wonder what magic they'll make then.
Made my way outside and met up with Sarah and Dave. Just a few blocks to the garage and then back home and in bed by 1:00.