Saturday, February 27, 2010

Furthur at the Fox

Artifact of the Week: Signed Furthur Fox Theater Poster
Tape of the Week: 9/18/09

This week, the Palace would like to go Furthur!  

With Phil Lesh and Bob Weir's new band in the middle of their first winter tour (did anyone see those freaky-great photos of the Wall of Sound behind them at Radio City Music Hall?!?), I thought it would be fun to revisit the start of this amazing new group, check out a cool signed artifact from their first show together, and link up to a tasty matrix recording of that night that began to circulate back in December.
2009 was a great year for Deadheads.  With the remaining members of the Grateful Dead out on the road for the first time in five years (under the banner of "The Dead" with Warren Haynes on lead guitar), the spring tour proved to be a success for both the band and deadheads. It was one of first times since Jerry's passing in 1995 that I had seen everyone around me at a show so damn excited! It was great to see.  Dark Star Palace will have to do a feature on these shows in the future...  


The momentum started with the "Obama show" at the Warfield in February 2008 and it looked like the boys were still in good spirits and were ready to have some fun on the road.  An early indicator that they were moving back to a more traditional Grateful Dead approach to the shows was that Warren Haynes was essentially playing the "Jerry-role" in the band and was given free license to sing most of Jerry's songs, help lead the band through jams and transitions, and basically be treated as a full member of the band.  This was a marked contrast to earlier incarnations of the band (the Other Ones, etc.) where they would have a variety of different guitarists trying everything but NOT to play like or take on Jerry's role...

Anyway, I don't want to rat-hole here, but there were indicators on the Dead's spring tour that the band was ready to head back to being more like the Grateful Dead. They were coming to grips with it...finally!  After the last "Dead" show wrapped up in July at the Gorge, I remember I spoke to a friend who had run into Bob Weir's wife in the parking lot of Whole Foods in Marin. He knew her and she mentioned to him that Bob was "really excited about this new band that he is helping form."  My friend was a bit confused, as this sure didn't sound like Ratdog or the Dead...and no rumors had come out yet about any "new" band.  It turns out that Bob couldn't "help talking about how great this new group sounded and that the rehearsals were going great."  There was even talk of a tour in the months to come.  What a surprise it was when word hit the street that a new band called "Furthur" had booked the recently refurbished Fox Theater in Oakland for a 3-night run to test the band out!

After scooping up tickets for all three nights (they sold out VERY fast), I began to research what the deal was with this new group. I found out quickly that there were a few jaw droppers.  First off, both Phil Lesh and Bob Weir were in the group...the 2 guys in the band who had rumored to be at odds (probably mostly with business, not music) in the past. It seems that the Dead tour had really helped these guys re-bond.  Second, there was no Mickey or Billy in the band.  Folks are STILL bringing that one up. Finally, the big bomb was that Bob and Phil had recruited the "Jerry-guy" from Dark Star Orchestra...a Grateful Dead cover-band (this is not a accurate picture of course, since DSO is THE GD cover band on the scene that has been blowing folks minds for no disrespect meant here).  When I heard that John Kadlecik was going to take the lead guitar slot, I couldn't help but think that this was either the worst, most Vegas'y move ever made...OR it was pure genius.  It turned out to be the later. By getting a guy who had Jerry's chops, knew the entire Grateful Dead songbook and most importantly, had a great Jerry-vibe when he played, it allowed Bob and Phil to approach their playing in the band like they did for 30+ years with the Grateful Dead.

All three of the Fox shows turned out to be fantastic.  The venue was a true mind-bender.  With a Moroccan-themed bar/restaurant attached to the theater with full-on in/out access, the old theater's funky lighting rig next to the bathrooms, and the wildest 40+ foot "Hollywood Hindu Gods" with eyes fully lit up that flanked both sides of the stage...well, it has to be the ultimate spot to hear and see an incarnation of the Dead!

This week's Artifact of the Week is a signed poster from the first night.  I first saw these when I walked in, and after a moments hesitation, was something I knew I had to pick up.  The Mike Dubois-designed poster is number 11 (the Eleven!) of 500.  They had the first 40 of these signed by Phil and Bob...and since the poster is so well done with their custom guitar and bass looking like smoke coming out of the steam train, it ended up being a must-have for a collector freak like myself.
This week's Tape of the Week is the matrix recording of the first Fox show that came out in December of last year.  We all knew it would only be a matter of time before a matrix was made from the soundboard and audience recordings that had circulated just days after the show.  NOTE: it is worth your time to check out all 3 of these Fox shows.  They are all great, but the first night with Bob and Phil slowly getting the train chugging down the track with The Other One (a perfect Furthur band opener!) is priceless.  A new band had been born, pouring it's light into ashes.... Check this band out while you can! Such a long, long time to be gone, and a short time to be there!

Here is a link to the stream of the 9/18 matrix:  
Fox Theater, Oakland, CA
Friday, September 18, 2009

Jam ->
The Other One ->
The Wheel ->
Jack Straw
The Music Never Stopped ->
Bird Song ->
Born Cross Eyed ->
Let It Grow

Lost Sailor ->
Saint Of Circumstance
Scarlet Begonias ->
Fire On The Mountain ->
St. Stephen ->
The Eleven ->
Terrapin Station ->
Not Fade Away

Donor Rap
Touch Of Grey
Until next week at Dark Star Palace...