Photos by C. Alan Crandall
The Festival Season is approaching quickly, and if you were in Broomfield February 11, 12 and 13th for the Furthur shows, you might even say it is here. I flew in from Spokane, Washington and met a friend who flew in from NY for all three shows. The festive atmosphere that surrounds any musical event involving Bob Weir and Phil Lesh was in full force in Broomfield this entire weekend. There is nothing like a Grateful Dead music filled evening. From the first Furthur shows in September 2009 in Oakland to the last notes in Broomfield it is quite apparent why these guys are the granddaddy of all jam bands.
The line up which includes both Lesh and Weir is augmented by Jeff Chimentis’ soulful keyboards, Joe Russo on drums, John Kadlecik, on guitar and vocals and the dynamic back up vocals duo of Jeff Pehrson and Sunshine Garcia Becker proved to be one of the strongest post Jerry bands to date. Let me rephrase that. This band is the real deal.
The festivities opened up Friday night with Jack Straw into a lively Me and My Uncle,which captured the crowd and kept Broomfield dancing and singing for three days. Loser followed by Big River, It Must Have Been the Roses, Black Throated Wind and the first set closed with Brown Eyed Woman. It was clear from the start that the boys were definitely back in town.
Weather Report Suite into Mountain Song to open the second set saw John and Phil sharing vocals. The crowd pleasing Dark Star into China Doll into Playin’ in the Band kept the audience captivated all the way to Franklins Tower closing the set. Phil, a Liver Transplant recipient shares his plea for folks to be donors at every show. The song Liberty was the encore and was dedicated “to the people of Egypt.”
C. Alan Crandall has contributed the photographs seen with this article. Alan shared some interesting observations of these shows. “One of the unique things at these shows was that the floor was General Admission and many with reserved seating were on the packed floor adding to the positive energy. Phil even remarked during the donor rap on Saturday that ‘there is a special energy here in Colorado, and we are having as good a time as you are!’ The harmonies were dead on, and the guitar change ups and teases were fantastic. The band played really tight. It added to all of the energy that thecrowd was singing along the entire weekend.” So true Alan. The audience gave the band a break and filled the Colorado skies with “Love is Love… Not Fade Away!”
Walking into the arena on Saturday night, we were greeted with Truckin’ into Crazy Fingers followed by the classic Dark Hollow. The chemistry of the rhythm section grounded the beautiful assault of these classic songs filling the air. Phil was constantly smiling and facing Russo as they traded and shared solid rhythm patterns. Phil is 70 years old, and in this writers opinion, has never sounded better or been more enthusiastic. He was clearly the leader. The set had a powerful Ramble on Rose, Cold Rain and Snow and concluded with a powerful Bobby sung Throwin’ Stones into Love Light. For those of you scoring at home, the kids did dance, and yes they did shake their bones.
The second set opened with Shakedown Street, Viola Lee Blues into Birdsong, The Other One and Lady with a Fan ushered in Terrapin Station and included Dear Mr. Fantasy, Hey Jude and One More Saturday Night, followed by the encore of Attics of My Life.
Our Sunday night show started off with a stroll down Shakedown Street in the parking lot across from the venue. Miracles were needed andmiracles were found. Beautiful people everywhere were dancing and doing their thing. Fresh food cooking and the aromas that are Shakedown filled the air, as we walked around with my friend; Debi giving away wild roses that blessed our room all weekend and couldn’t go back on the plane. Yes friends, the festival season is coming, and all things jam bands bring are just waiting for you. Music, fun, friendship and freedom are just a heartbeat away.
We had amazing seats just to stage right, and we watched as the arena filled with fans and the final tunings were done. The lights went down and New Minglewood Blues filled the air followed by a beautiful Sugaree with Chimenti and Jeff trading and sharing melodies. The crowd was dancing and shaking it. My friend and I like to move around the show and see what we can see. We were in the halls dancing and watching the spinners and trance dancers loving up On the Road Again and CC Rider. We weaved our way through the floor during Tennessee Jed only to find our old friend Bertha. The light show that is with Furthur is truly something. A few simple racks of lights filled the place up in ever changing seas of blues and greens and were syncopated beautifully with the music. The set ended with Man Smart Woman Smarter.
When I shared the second set songs set list with a friend, he laughed and said “Man that is like deadhead porn!” Itopened with Phil singing a new song, Colors of the Rain. And then it happened…the entire crowd was on its feet dancing to Scarlet Begonias followed by Fire on the Mountain, Estimated Prophet into Eyes of the World. Chimenti filled the air with magic during this song. The Wheel followed with Not Fade Away, which was led by the vocals and enthusiastic rhythm clapping of Jeff Pehrson and Sunshine Garcia Becker. The crowd was electric as the band played the first few notes of Wharf Rat, and was in frenzy when Sugar Magnolia followed. The encores were covers of the legendary songs Revolution by The Beatles and Satisfaction by The Rolling Stones.
Furthur is the real deal. They are sounding tight and fluid. The addition of John to the band is a double win. His chops were of the essence of Jerry and he was loosening up throughout the weekend to be trading chops and riffs with Bobby. And his vocals are just what the sound needed. His “Jerryness” in vocal work is remarkable. These people are having fun and the fire from their stage has now spread to the floor. Furthur is rolling out for an East Coast Spring Tour, so get up, get out, get out of the door, and get ready to shake your bones. The festival season is here.