Sunday, April 6, 2014

Lesh and Friends with Campbell and Williams, Saturday

Wow, late night on Friday and as I say, a long day.  Didn't get a great night's sleep Friday night (not surprising) but we all stayed in bed long enough and then woke up Saturday to an excellent new day.  The rain had stopped, the sun was shining, we were gushing about seeing Phil and Friends the night before, and we were going to see them again that night!  How good can it get?

M&J were still just getting up when we were more than ready for breakfast, so we finally started out ourselves for El Dorado West, the diner across the street that had very mixed reviews on Yelp.  As we suspected, the bad reviews must be from people who expected designer teas and doilies.  This was a fine, efficient diner doing a great weekend business, and they had us stuffed with eggs, toast, potatoes, and coffee before you could say Jack Robinson.

M&J showed up, I went back to the hotel to download and blog, Dave showed up on the phone with Ricky, the others all came back and we hung out, and then we got motivated for Lyndhurst.  Lyndhurst is a gaudy 19th century home (owned by Jay Gould) on acres and acres of croquet lawn, on a lovely part of the East Hudson just South of the Tappan Zee bridge.  I'm sure it'd be even more spectacular when the flowers and hedges bloom, but we were a long way from that on a windy and almost chilly early April day after a long, long winter.  We had a great time wandering around the grounds, and of course the main topic of conversation was how good the concert last night had been and what they'd play for the last night of their 4-night stand.

The Warners took off and we had time to get back to the hotel, have a drink in their bar while waiting for housekeeping, and then grab our stuff and take off for Port Chester.  We arrived at Kiosko just about the same time we had the day before (after parking in the Capitol's lot on Pearl Street again), and had another great, non-fancy Mexican dinner.  I can't believe more people don't frequent this place, but maybe we were just early.

Made it to the line at the inside entrance on schedule, and were determined that tonight NOTHING would stop us from getting right up to the stage.  When the doors opened a lot of people had that in mind though, and we were just able to snag two spots on the rail in front of Jeff.  Dave was nice enough to be the one to hang back for all of the show, so his aged parents could have something to lean on.  But we were dancing, not leaning, for most of the night anyway.  Another wonderful wait while the crowd streamed in, conjecturing about what songs they were going to play and making friends with the Deadheads all around us.

Time to gush about the Capitol again.  It's a lovely theater, they play incredible, trippy lights and patterns on the spotless ceiling, they have great beer and friendly staff, they have a long history of great rock and roll shows, and the people on a mellow Saturday night were delightful.  If you're a Deadhead, making a pilgrimage here is highly recommended, and I mean highly!  Phil went out of his way after the show to give the theater and its staff a shout-out of thanks.

And then they came out, tuned up, and launched right into Mississippi Half Step and we were back!  Larry again had his pedal steel on stage but didn't play it all night.  He played his cittern even less than he had the night before, but did a number of songs on mandolin.  Boyd only played on a few songs, all in the second set.  Those are just a couple of details, here's set one:

Mississippi Half Step Uptown Toodeloo
Peggy-O >
Twenty Degrees of Solitude Jam >
Crazy Fingers
When the Stars Go Blue
Cosmic Charlie

  • Half Step was a great set opener and the way they attacked it said very clearly that this was going to be a special night.  For instance, from his first chord, John was obviously on fire, like Coach Phil had told him, "Johnny my boy, we need you to be at the top of your game tonight, can you do that for me?"  "Of course Coach, whatever you say!!"
  • Peggy-O featured Teresa and Larry doing the vocals as a two-part dialogue, which of course it is, though it's always done as a one-dimensional English ballad.  This was excellent and beautiful and stunning, but would soon be lost in the shuffle ... it was just the start of the night.
  • As mentioned, they're naming their jams and, though we had no idea of the name at the time, this foreshadows Mountains.  There must be some kind of deep scheme here.
  • Crazy Fingers was a little below average for the night, though that's not bad!
  • When the Stars Go Blue is a lovely country song written by Ryan Adams and sung well by Larry and Teresa.
  • And then, the band brought it right back up to the top with an electric, grinning your face off, everyone play(!) Operator.  This little ditty alone was worth the price of admission.
  • And they closed the set with a screaming Bertha.  I mentioned that John was on fire and he was absolutely melting on this.  He still isn't 100% of the way to playing Garcia leads and probably will never be, but he's closer than anyone else on the planet.
Yikes!  Our sojourn at the Capitol was now three quarters over, which was the bad news.  But the good news was that we just *knew* we were about to experience an incredible second set.  I made it to the bathroom and back, though this can be a very arduous trek when no one along the way wants to move out of their staked-out place.  But this was all done in a good humor; everyone there that night was happy and mellow, though some were very, very high.  I ran into a nurse in the men's and we had a laugh about space cadets not understanding faucets and germs.

OK, got back and hung out and it wasn't long before the band was back and continuing the balls-to-the-wall rock they had ended the first set with.  Here's the second set:

Passenger >
Shakedown Street >
Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning >
Dancing Out On 7th Street Jam >
Mountains of the Moon >
Fire on the Mountain >
Eyes of the World >
Unbroken Chain
Uncle John's Band

  • From the first "Firefly, can you see me?" the crowd was bellowing along.  I actually turned around and watched the writhing crowd in that pretty theater several times during the set.
  • We were very sure they were going to play Shakedown and were very psyched when they actually did.  It was as great as we'd hoped; what can you say, just listen to it!  This song works so well on so many levels.
  • We were hoping Teresa would do Lamps Trimmed and Burning.  We'd heard a recording of her singing it with Furthur a few years ago and both Dave and I remember vividly driving over the Berkshires on a sunny day while listening to it.  As we'd expected though, she just killed the damn thing.  Hearing it sung 15 feet in front of you kind of beats the Berkshires, as lovely as they are.  After the first two verses, Teresa stepped back and bent double and had her own coaching session ... she hadn't outdone herself yet ... and then she stepped up for the last few verses and boy, did she!
  • Then they jammed, and then they surfaced.  Teresa sang Mountains Of the Moon.  Don't know how to describe the beauty of this and how she enunciated it perfectly, like a Sandy Denny with soul rather than blues.  You really should stop reading this and go listen to the tape
  • And then ... FOTM!!  This was a bit unexpected but you never should trust a prankster.  John didn't seem to expect it either and was not really ready when he realized it was time to sing the first verse.  But as I say, he was on fire and he ended up nailing the vocal.
  • From this point on, Dave and I knew exactly what they were going to play.  It was obvious that they had to play Eyes and play it they did.  Again, I joined in the first few choruses but then shifted around and got a panorama of Teresa and the boys leading the whole crowd in waking up to realize that they were the eyes of the world.
  • And you *knew* that Phil had to do an Unbroken before the end of his stand.  His vocals were a little strained by now and he sounded more like he was 74 than like he was 34, which is about right and lent to the perfect timbre of the song, at the end of a long set.
  • They didn't leave the stage!  Dave and I knew they wouldn't because they'd been practicing UJB in the sound check and now was the logical time for it.  But is UJB ever logical ?  Perhaps as logical as any story told by a crow.  Boyd came out and took a few great fiddle leads here.
  • Other notes: Larry produced great leads and great sound ... very different from Bobby and arguably as good; Phil spent a lot of time talking to the band on the monitor system, he wasn't going to have them make a mistake but this was a little unnerving, you didn't know when he was talking to them and when he was about to sing to us.
Phew, that was a long and incredible set!  I was actually drooping at the end of it, they out-played me.  But I knew that the encore would be special and pepped up for that.  Phil came out and did the previously-mentioned thanks to the Capitol and its staff, and then did his tribute to Cody.  And then they did what we knew they they were going to ... Dave and I were like, is it?  it sounds like! it must be ... Dew!!

Encore: Morning Dew, Box Of Rain

They hadn't done Morning Dew in this stand, and John had been playing so excellently that night that it would have been an absolute crime to not let him sing it, and boy did he sing it.  I was actually thinking that they could arrange it as a dialogue, like they had done with Peggy-O, but Teresa was cooling her heels at that point and the classic arrangement they did do was awesome.

And then they had to finish with Phil's song, which started off as a song about his father, but is more and more a song about us all hearing the ticking clock louder and louder, and still feeling and feeling our way along in this marvelous life.  In the middle of the vocal coda Phil realized his duties as a host and had Boyd do another excellent lead, before the last couple of lines.  They all bowed, Phil thanked them all by name, and then they faded away.  Actually, Jeff and Joe did not want to fade away.  Jeff picked up Joe like Koji Uehara and they laughed and laughed.  The woman next to me asked Jeff politely for the set list and he obliged, then gave us all the peace sign and disappeared.

Well that was fun!  Not as much detritus on the floor as the night before.  Made it out the door past the Capitol staff who were actually handing out thank-you notes to everybody for "a real good time!"  What a classy ending to a classy few shows.  We just loved this Saturday show and, though it was not perfect, I'm sure that years from now we'll still be listening to it; it was a special one.

Made it back to the car and then back to the hotel, where we knew we wouldn't be able to get to sleep right away.  We checked and the show was already posted, so we listened to it until 3:00 or so, when we finally collapsed.

1 comment:

  1. Don't miss Sarah's pictures, they give a great feel for the show!