There’s something incredibly exciting about going to Red Rocks with a bunch of wide-eyed first-timers. So it went on Saturday night, a cargo fan full of Philadelphians pulling into the South lot with one Colorado native, turning their heads “Exorcist”-style at the natural surroundings. It was a nice treat for a veteran of the scene, akin to the cliché of seeing something fresh through someone else’s eyes.
If there’s any adjective for the anchors of Furthur, “fresh” ain’t it. Guitairist Bob Weir and bassist Phil Lesh have been touring since the stone age. Furthur is the latest incarnation of the two’s effort to keep the spirit and songs (and cash flow) of the Grateful Dead alive. It’s a successful venture on almost every level.
Admittedly, there’s something off about listening to a dude who sounds and plays like Jerry Garcia (Weir and Lesh famously recruited former Dark Star Orchestra member John Kadlecik to play Jerry’s parts), but from the top of a sold-out Red Rocks, only a curmudgeon would claim to be the wiser. The group kicked off the show fittingly with “One More Saturday Night,” which was more energetic than cute. Furthur proceeded to bust out some fairly rare covers (“Stagger Lee” and “Gimme Some Lovin’”) which surely pleased much of the grey-haired faithful in attendance.
The second set revolved around a song which has treated Weir and Lesh well since the 1960s: “Dark Star.” Sandwiching it with other proven tunes like “Playing in the Band,” the crew jammed hard. If they didn’t harness the raw bedevilment of the song’s early years, it suited the laid-back proceedings just fine. Everybody was happy as can be that Red Rocks had a solid house band for the night.
Click here for a full review and photo gallery of Day 1.