Phil Lesh and Friends
Had a chance to catch a couple of Phil shows during his 10 show run at the Nokia Theater - the opening and closing nights, on Halloween and November 11th, to be precise - and I have to say I was quite impressed. Despite my love of metal and hard rock, I still carry a small torch for The Grateful Dead and their offshoots, and Phil and his ever changing lineup is clearly the best of the bunch.
First off, a few words about the venue: the Nokia Theater is one of the nicest, newest, cleanest, most user friendly venues in Manhattan, with crystal clear sound, multiple bars and snack stands, and comfortable seats in the rear of the theater. I had a terrific time, particularly the last night when I managed to snag a seat.
As for the music, the Halloween show was solid - a rousing Shakedown Street opener, a killer New Speedway Boogie, a thundering The Other One, and a whimsical Werewolves of London closer - but the final night contained the real gems: a Golden Road opener, the best Sugaree I have ever heard, a tasty acoustic set (Ripple, anyone?), and a third set that wove Dark Star, Morning Dew, Uncle Johns Band and Sugar Magnolia into a seamless whole, and left the audience of 2200 in THC- embellished wonder. In many ways, Phil and Friends is like a better rehearsed, more polished version of the Dead with significantly better vocals, which, in my book, is a beautiful thing. All I can say is...groovy.