Monday, July 6, 2015

Fare Thee Well Couch Tour, part 3

After another sunny, warm summer day, we settled down to watch the Dead again!  We'd discovered in the course of warming up with the last few Songs Of Their Own videos that one of my faithful ADS L400 speakers (probably @40 years old) was buzzing, and on inspection the foam surrond of the bass speaker had deteriorated.  Replaced it with a pair of smaller Bose speakers and it was ok, though not optimal.

Another note was that the US was in the final of the Woman's World Cup against Japan, starting at 7.  They romped, jumping out to a 4-0 lead and ending at 5-2.  There was some overlap with the concert, but we switched the game off as soon as it ended.

So ... on to the concert.  If yesterday had been a big deal, this was a humongous one with hot and cold running celebrities, a packed stadium, even more fireworks than there'd been on the 4th, and lots of pressure.  And the band just shone like you wouldn't believe!  They did a group hug and a bow to the audience before starting, and then played an awesome concert from start to finish.  Here's the first set:

China Cat Sunflower >
I Know You Rider
Estimated Prophet
Built To Last
Samson & Delilah
Mountains Of The Moon >
Throwing Stones

  • The China/Rider pairing of course was held back to the last night.  I knew it was coming but was stunned when they opened with it.  Trey had a little trouble with the twisting China Cat lyrics, but then the whole ensemble took over for I Know You Rider, and all participated in the iconic lines Garcia used to sing famously, like "I wish I was a headlight on a North-bound train."
  • Bobby has been singing excellently on the Fare Thee Well tour and we knew he was going to go over the top when they launched into Estimated (again we were surprised to hear this so early in the first set).  And he did, whispering and then shouting and then pointing at the crowd, and then trailing off, almost singing to himself, before shouting some more, with his eyes and veins bulging.
  • I was delighted again when they broke into Built To Last, one of my favorites.  Bruce sang it beautifully.
  • A last-minute prediction of mine was that they'd do Samson, but in the middle of the first set?!?  Still, this was a great version with the drummers thundering and Bob screaming.
  • Next was a long intro, and soon it was obvious to Phil fans what they were playing.  He stepped up to the mike and sang Mountains Of the Moon almost as perfectly as he'd sung Box Of Rain the other day.
  • They went right into Throwing Stones after that, again with Bobby preaching to the crowd, and getting the whole stadium to shout along with "ashes ashes."

In all, a fantastic first set.  More Neal Casal sound, more aerial shots, a full fireworks display, and then it was time for the last set.  Here's what they played:

Terrapin Station >
Drums >
Space >
Unbroken Chain
Days Between >
Not Fade Away

  • Understandable that they'd repeat Truckin', which had been the tour opener.  They had to give Chicago (and everybody around the world) one more opportunity to sing along, like we were all in Turlock.
  • And then another classic in Cassidy, but turned into a long jam vehicle which allowed all the musicians to excel.  Incredibly well-played.
  • Same with Althea, which is perhaps Sarah's favorite song.  It's like they'd been reading all our setlists!  Trey shone on vocals on this; this was the perfect song for his voice, just as Built To Last seemed almost written for Bruce's voice.
  • Of course, they had to do Terrapin on the last night.  We'd speculated that they might do the whole suite, but they stuck to the shorter version, Weir and Lesh sharing the vocals.
  • Drums and Space were again not as drawn out as they might have been, and then Space gradually coalesced into the beautiful Unbroken Chain.  We were again surprised and delighted.  Actually, the guys did Space > Unbroken at the last Chicago show, in 1995.
  • And then they had to do Days Between, Garcia and Hunter's ultimate tribute to the passage of time.  Weir's vocal tone on this was wonderful.  There was no shouting here, just beautiful singing.
  • And then they ended with one of their (actually, Buddy Holly's) seminal rockers.  The crowd wanted to sing along and this was their chance, a full stadium and lots of people at theaters and on their couches clapping and singing along.  Our love will not fade away.

Ack!  It was all over except for another Donor Rap and the encore.  Bob came out with a "Let Trey Sing" t-shirt, and they did, letting him and Bruce split the vocals on another song they just had to play, Touch Of Grey.

They left the stage after this and the crowd roared and roared until they finally came back, Bob again sporting an acoustic.  This time they closed with Attics Of My Life, with Trey and Phil joining in a capella.  "When there was no dream of mine, you dreamed of me."

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