Sunday, November 1, 2015

Lesh and Jordan at the Cap, part 2

Woke up around 9:00 on Halloween morning after an ok sleep in a small bed in the La Quinta in Armonk and went downstairs for what's become the standard American "free" hotel breakfast.  (Overheard by Sarah the next morning, said by a small girl after she joined her parents with her breakfast: "No, it's *not* any better than yesterday.")  Got my fill of food and coffee and USA Today and then we gathered back at the room and reminisced about Friday's show.

I did my blog, we checked for reviews of the concert on the web, and waited for Friday's MP3s to be uploaded by LiveDownloads (they weren't until late that night!).  Finally at about noon we got motivated to go out, had a quick sandwich (we had brought a pile of them), and drove up route 22 to the Mianus River Gorge Preserve, where we had a beautiful, long hike in the Fall forest.

This is a preserved stretch of the river that eventually empties into Long Island Sound, amidst many very expensive homes.  A lot of it used to be farmlands and the whole area is lined with old stone walls, coursing up and down over the gorge's slopes between glorious ashes, beeches, oaks, maples, yellow poplars, and majestic hemlocks.  The river itself was very low, as with most bodies of water this Fall in the Northeast, and when we got to the Havemeyer Falls near the end of the trail, it flowed into an incredibly low reservoir.

By the time we got back it was a little after 4, so we still had time to watch a bit of college football, stare at the LiveDownloands page some more, and get mentally prepared for another night of excellence.

Drove down to Port Chester again, parked in the exact same spot, and then checked out Shakedown Corner again.  Everything was a bit busier, being Saturday night and Halloween, and there were a few more vendors there than there had been the night before.  We hobnobbed and gabbed, and I admired a stealie coozie a guy was using.  He said that the guy who made them had been giving them out to anyone who asked and would be back later so ... here, take mine!  An incredibly nice thing for him to do!!

Made our way up to Kiosko for another Mexican meal that couldn't be beat.  The restaurant was almost full already but we got a table right away and were vastly entertained by the stream of cute kids in costumes stopping in for candy from the kitchen crew.  It's a nice, family restaurant.

Then it was time for the concert!  We were in the balcony again, a few rows farther back and a few seats more toward the middle.  The Cap was rocking with people in costumes, ushers in masks, the same setup on stage, their beautiful lights dancing over the ceiling, and their loop of The Skeleton Dance.  There were some very high people in evidence already, and they just got higher as the evening rolled along.  Between sets I saw one woman who was so encumbered by gravity she had to be pushed and pulled up the stairs, though she seemed to have no idea that was happening.

The guys came out and lined up as before, some seemingly wearing the same clothes as they had on Friday.  Must be that Phil told them, "Guys, that was so good, I want you to not change a thing!"  He had the same outfit on himself.  And his strategy must have worked ... though Friday night had been PHENOMENAL!! this was even better ... it was ASTOUNDING!!!  It was also Halloween, so you may detect a theme in this setlist:

After Midnight
Doin' That Rag
Bad Moon Rising
Dire Wolf
Friend of the Devil
Werewolves Of London
  • As I say, this was more excellence, perhaps even better.  See last night and all my gushing can be repeated here.  We were delighted to hear After Midnight, the old J.J. Cale song given a mellow country cover that at the same time hinted at the song gymnastics we were about to experience. 
  • Then they scratched their asses for just a beat or two and launched into one of my longest term, favoritest songs, Doin' That Rag!  I'd never seen this performed before ... it's been up on Dave's list too.  And this was a great version, sung by the extra-sweet voice of John.  Old like a rum drinking demon at tea.
  • And guess who's turn for a vocal was next?  Tony!  Bad Moon Rising was another song from out of left field and was instantly a crowd favorite.  We all roared and sang along.  Who doesn't love singing along with Bad Moon Rising on Halloween??
  • Next up was a sterling cover of one of the best Grateful Dead songs ever: Loser.  John sang the "Sweet Susy" chorus, but the meat of it was the jams.  The dragon was out again already.  At the break people who hadn't seen Jordan before were staggering around saying, "That guitarist is GREAT!!"  We were already aware of that and he was so integrated with Phil, John, and Jason.
  • John took a few more leads than he had Friday, but when he stepped aside and nodded to Stanley you just sat back a bit, tightened your seat belt, and he soared you through the clouds.  Jason was just as good too, ripping off some astounding runs on the piano and some swampy dirges on the B3.
  • They continued to run out all the Halloween-themed songs, inviting everyone to sing along with "Pleee-ease don't murder me," and then "Ran into the devil and he gave me 20 bills, Spent the night in Utah in a cave up in the hills."  Dire Wolf was great and bouncy, but FOTD was another over-the-top highlight.  This wasn't done like the Dead used to do it in the early 70s, or the slowed down later version.  This was an original rendition, concentrating not so much on the descending rhythm as on the tinkling melody.
  • In fact, besides the lyrical theme, the first set had a melodic theme, which was a mellow, country lilt.  It was an expression of how much in control of their art these guys were that such a disparate assortment of songs could mesh so well.
  • Next was the song everyone knew was coming (in fact, Dead and Company played it last night too): Werewolves of London, with Tony on vocals again.  As you might imagine, the people in costume were dancing and twirling, the lights was flashing, and the whole crowd was howling along to Warren Zevon's classic song.  Tony sang, "I saw a werewolf drinking a Lagunitas in Garcia's."
Break time!  One comment I should throw in here was that most people were very aware of the other great events happening in the area that night.  People were checking their phones constantly to try to see what was going on with Dead and Company in MSG.  The Garcia's club in the Cap's entrance was just packed like sardines with people catching up on the Series game on the wall-sized TV screen.  I hung out at the upstairs bar a bit later than I should to see ancient warrior Bartolo Colon in an epic matchup with KC's young Salvador Perez in the top of the sixth.  Colon finally struck him out on a slider outside to preserve the lead ... for the moment.

Back to my seat just in time for the guys to come out for the second set, and we knew that we were in for a good one.  Dave had worked his voodoo to ensure that they'd be playing TOO (he'd done the same with Here Comes Sunshine Friday night).  The band started into a little intro that we couldn't identify, and then devilish John jumped up to the mike and sang, "Please allow me to introduce myself..." and the crowd went wild!!!  Here's the list:

Sympathy for the Devil
Cryptical Envelopment >
The Other One >
Death Don't Have No Mercy
Dark Star >
Voodoo Child (Slight Return) >
Dark Star >
St. Stephen >
Fire on the Mountain

Again, what can I say??  Oh well, let me try.
  • The country lilt was abandoned and we were all in the belly of the dragon.  I've talked about being able to see the music and that hallucination was still there, along with a deep comfort with this band.  It's strange, but there was an overwhelming feeling that I could trust them to take my ears and my mind along for a thrilling ride, and I would never be sorry.
  • Sympathy For the Devil finished and the guys just took a few beats before ripping into a loud, majestic Cryptical.  And we all knew where that was leading.  I trusted these guys and there was no doubt in my mind that they would stretch out Cryptical and start booming, and that's what they did.
  • I hugged Dave during TOO and he was quivering with delight, saying later that it was a perfect The Other One.  I agree and the word "perfect" had occurred to me too.  Dave also called it, "The Other One I've always been waiting for."  Phil was just detonating our reality, Jason was running up and down the ribs of the beast, and Stanley was bending our minds with his sound and his technique.
  • Time to calm down a bit after that, and John continued his wonderful singing with Death Don't.  But then they drifted into a bit of a jam and suddenly Phil took over again, looked the guys up and down, launched into a little intro, and then he was playing Dark Star.  What more can be said about this incredibly multi-faceted song?  This wasn't a guitar-driven version or a tribal drumming version or a bass festival.  This was dark, and spacey, and scary, and weird, like the kind of thing you'd hear on Halloween!
  • OK, it was now time for Stanley Jordan to step up again.  He turned up the settings on his guitar and started wailing and wailing Hendrix's Voodoo Child.  An observation I'd made Friday was that he could go from Hendrix to Chet Atkins and back in the course of a few measures.  But in this case he just stayed in the Hendrix zone and dominated the theater with his volume and style.  Not only that, but he then stepped up to the mike and sang a few verses (this was the "Slight Return" version).  Stanley is not known as a singer but contributed some great harmonies all weekend and did a great lead at that point.
  • And not only that ... the Hendrix persona took him over and Stanley actually did two somersaults on stage while ripping off a lead at the same time!  ASTOUNDING!!  And this from a 56 year old guy!!!  Many of us in the crowd felt a twinge in the back just watching it.
  • What could they do but jam and jam back into Dark Star?  They had to finish it of course.  While they did, Stanley stepped behind his amp and coolly changed a string, then got back on the beat just in time.  And then they stopped again and looked at Phil ... and then he started playing St. Stephen.  As mentioned, this to me is one of the most perfect Grateful Dead songs ever and I'm always thrilled by it.  The ensemble singing was great too, everybody joining in (Jason did some great harmony himself) while our minds ricocheted 'twixt now and then.
  • They were thundering and finally came back to the last verse of St. Stephen, and then they finished something else up!  They had done Scarlet on Friday and couldn't stop until they crowned the night with Fire On the Mountain, with the whole Capitol screaming along.

Whoah!  After the incredible performance on Friday we wouldn't have been that disappointed if Saturday didn't come up to that level, but they had just surpassed it, while still doing a "Halloween" assortment of songs and while suppressing their wild instincts a bit in the first set to play it straight.

And there was still time for a donor rap and an encore.  The crowd was into a very loud "Not Fade Away" clapping session by the time Phil came out, but quieted and let him gush.  He was in a state of rapture himself, just beaming at the scene.  The guys came out right after him and what else could they do but play NFA (though the camera revealed that they had had the Stones' Midnight Rambler slotted for the encore spot)?

We got out of there pretty quickly after the end.  Phil did not introduce the guys, maybe he will tonight.  They don't need introductions!

One more note is that the crowd filing out had a few very depressed people in it.  The Mets had had the lead into the eighth and then lost it on a misplay by (up until now) post-season marvel David Murphy.  As one Mets fan explained to me as we left, "It was a Bill BUCK-nuh moment!"

Back to the car and back to the hotel, still buzzing...

see pictures here

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