Photos and review: Phil Lesh and Friends at the 1stBank Center, Day 3 - Reverb

Live review: Phil Lesh and Friends @ the 1stBank Center, Day 3

How’s that saying go? A rock guitarist plays three chords for thousands of people and a jazz guitarist plays thousands of chords for three people.

John Scofield bridged the rock-jazz gap Saturday at the 1stBank Center, hurling hunks of abstract jazz at every opportunity during the final and most crowded show of a memorable three-night Phil Lesh and Friends stand.

Where he lounged lazily on Friday, letting arena rocker Warren Haynes hog the limelight, Scofield on Saturday stepped up and delivered. Capable of capturing the entire house with his fluid if angular approach, the jazz luminary whirled around Haynes’ structured riffs in “Viola Lee Blues” and “Cumberland Blues,” danced with drummer Joe Russo’s inhuman hammering in “Cold Rain And Snow” and generally took charge.

Yet still, Scofield’s trademark Ibanez – a semi-acoustic tool he has employed for more than two decades with explosive, virtuosic tenacity – was left untouched for all three nights, sitting in its cradle unused and untapped while Scofield strummed a Strat.

Scofield’s composition-oriented style saw him ladling lengthy notes atop Haynes’ frenzied jamming – especially in the poignant “He’s Gone” – developing a rich backdrop that band leader Lesh and Russo explored with ruthless vigor.

After a first set of Scofield-driven carousing, Lesh cranked his cacophonous carousel to 11 early in the second set, his shattering bass lines pealing through “St. Stephen” and stirring Scofield into an “Age of Aquarius” rambling that became one of the band’s finest segues into the “The Eleven.”

“The Eleven” saw Haynes and Scofield finally – in their sixth set of music in three days – working as equals, trading and building on each other’s brief exploratory licks.

Following Haynes’ beautiful and unexpected “Layla” – in which Jackie Green took the guitar role of Eric Clapton while Haynes’ guitar wailed under his glass-fingered slide – the two guitarists again united in “Birdsong.”

Scofield’s unique phrasing darted and weaved around Haynes’ building riff in “Birdsong” as Russo powered through an orchestral, dense rhythm. Lesh backpedaled toward his 10-foot bass stack, leaning his lanky frame closer to Russo, as if hoping to absorb the drummer’s intensity.

After Haynes’ indulgent “Stella Blue,” Scofield found his final footing for the memorable three-night stand in “Going Down The Road Feeling Bad,” peppering the traditional blues tune with hard-driving jazz licks that came off like a saxophone jam.

While Phil and Friends will never veer too far off the tried and true tracks laid decades ago during Lesh’s days in the deep end of the Grateful Dead, it is Scofield who can prod wandering that reinterprets accepted sounds and keeps us all coming back for more.

Set 1
Golden Road>
Viola Lee Blues>
Cumberland Blues
Friend Of The Devil
He’s Gone>
Cold Rain & Snow

Set 2
St. Stephen>jam
The Eleven>jam
Bird Song>
Uncle John’s Band>
Stella Blue
I Know You Rider
Going Down The Road Feeling Bad
Attics Of My Life

E: Box Of Rain

Full review and photos of Day 1
Full review and photos of Day 2

Follow our news and updates on Twitter, our whereabouts on Foursquare and our relationship status on Facebook. Or send us a telegram.

Jason Blevins is a strange dancer, but that has never stopped him.

Candace Horgan is a Denver freelance writer/photographer and regular contributor to Reverb. When not writing and shooting, she plays guitar and violin in Denver band Black Postcards.

  • Rickseng0118

    Overall decent reviews for the 3 days, a few holes, but no one’s perfect. One thing I do have to disagree with you on is your very last paragraph “While Phil and Friends will never veer too far off the tried and true
    tracks laid decades ago during Lesh’s days in the deep end of the
    Grateful Dead, it is Scofield who can prod wandering that reinterprets
    accepted sounds and keeps us all coming back for more.” Sorry that is wrong on so many levels.. I know my live music history, especially in regards to the Grateful Dead and family (both before and after Jerry) and with the deepest respects to John, he would be the 1st to admit the he is not the reason Deadheads, Phil Phans,, Mule Fans, etc are coming back for more. John was a valuable piece of that band that brought many smiles to many people this past weekend but he is not the single reason why 99.99% of us where there. Again I want to make it clear this is NOT a knock on John he is an awesome guitarist – I have seen him at his own concerts and will surely go again.

  • Andy Andergaff

    I’m pretty sure that Viola Lee was the finest example ever of diving into the deep end of the pool in the 1st set.  There are many ‘jam’ bands that only dream of going that deep. In the 1st set no less. Absolutely blew my mind… 
    The Judge Decreed It….!

  • Johnson

    Way to hide your dislike of Warren. I’m not sure what you meant by “arena rocker”, but where I come from that is a bad thing, and Haynes is no arena rocker. If by “self-indulgent” Stella, you mean bringing people to tears. Was Standing on the Moon on Thursday self-indulgent?

  • Mybrainhurts

    Thanks Phil, Warren, Sco and Co. for the shows.  I thought we’de only have ’06 to hear Sco jam his stuff into Dead riffs, an awkward and wierd art.  These new shows are as good or better and warrant repeat listenings.