Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Review - The Dead - Spectrum, Philadelphia - 5/2/09

Here is the review of the May 2 Dead show at The Spectrum. This would be the last at the Spectrum after over 50 sold out shows over the last 40 years. And I went to quite a few, including my first show, 3/31/87.

By all accounts this was one of the two best shows on the tour so far, the other being MSG the previous weekend. Friends Phil & Keith who attended said, "It was awesome! The best Dead related show I have seen since before Jerry died."

I would have liked to have gone, just to see them one last time at the old Spectrum. Well, rumours abound that Phish will be the last show at the Spectrum so maybe I'll try to hit that one.

Here is Joe C.'s (from Scranton) review. Thanks again to Joe.

The Dead at the Spectrum, May 2, 2009

Wow! What a show. If someone had told me that I would see a Dead show where they played Schoolgirl, Mason's Children, Cumberland, Cryptical Envelopment, Morning Dew, St. Stephen and Help Slip Franklins, I would not believe it. I'm not sure what these guys are up to with working so hard to play all these songs so well. I can't tell if it's a love letter to their fans or that they are ready to pick up where they left off with the perpetual touring machine. Regardless, if their selling, I'm buying because they continue to put out a high quality and entertaining product. I'm very grateful.

What I assumed would be the encore was actually the set opener, a spirited One More Saturday Night. It was moderately paced with a darker bluesier edge to it. Very nice. It had attitude without being too fast.

Brown Eyed Women was excellent. The mix was truly amazing. Great ensemble playing. Nothing special with the guitar solos. Warren's vocal harmonies were amazing. He is so talented.

The Schoolgirl was different. A sleek and polished version of this gritty classic. If it's bluesy, Warren knocks it out of the park.

Althea was very funky, slow and loose. Warren was working the Jerry style envelope filter. Bobby's phaser tone was a little heavy. Warren does the vocal justice.

He's Gone was outstanding. It had that personal feeling. Very delicate. Timing was impeccable. The down beat was completely obscured by the psychedelic rhythms. The transition jam screamed Grateful Dead. The actual transition to the Uncle Johns intro was tight and on. No hesitation. A perfect 10. Harmonies on UJB were awesome. Sounded fantastic. Mid song reggae breakdown was so playful and natural, masterful and lacking any self awareness. The crowd was going wild. The transition to Mason's was a little weird. They went way out there but then came back for the traditional UJB finish. The actual transition to Mason's was, again, flawless. Hard to believe it could sound so tight in a venue of this size.

Mason's Children set ender was perfect. The harmonies sounded stupendous. Warren wielded heavy distortion.

The first set had a second set feel. Lots of loose and natural psychedelic jamming. Lots of space on the tunes with rich vocal harmonies. It's like they were really warmed up when they started playing.

Second set opened strong with a crowd pleasing Good Lovin'. Followed by a crowd pleasing Cumberland.

Once the crowd was completely buttered up, the band jumped into the "That's It for the Other One" suite. Cryptical was great. Phil delivered on the vocals. The big Phil bass build up transition did not connect, but otherwise a very enjoyable rendition.

Awesome drumz. The crowd was raised into a frenzy many times.

Space was great and short.

Morning Dew as excellent. Instantly recognizable. It was nice and slow, and yet it seemed busy.

St. Stephen rocked. The bridge was beautiful.

Revolution was strong and got the crowd rocking.

Help Slipknot Franklins was an incredible set ender to an incredible set. The transition to Franklins involved a complete stop, which sounded a little weak.

The GD sold out the Spectrum 53 times. This year it will be torn down. The last Dead tune to be played at the Spectrum was the Samson and Delilah encore. The crowd went nuts every chorus.

Phil declared after Samson that "this has been one of the most satisfying performances, er series of performances, that we've played on this tour. I gotta say the energy here is so, how should I say, compelling, so welcoming, so positive and uplifting, so God bless you." Amen Phil. Please come back."