Despite the rain, Railroad Earth got down at Red Rocks on Friday for their first headlining show at Colorado’s historic venue. And Red Rocks proved the perfect setting for Railroad Earth’s New Jersey jam that’s sometimes labeled “Country Eastern” or newgrass or rock-grass.
It doesn’t get any earthier than Red Rocks — a Mecca for music fans, geologists and paleontologists. Railroad Earth’s band members aren’t dinosaurs, but the laid-back musicians are seasoned if not grizzled. And even though the guys have a few years of experience, Railroad earth can still appeal to younger fans by striking a happy-go-lucky Pied Piper chord. What helped were the show’s visuals, which augment feel-good music with psychedelic light shows: not merely colored beams, but projections of gigantic whirling flowers or enormous stained glass window effects. The audio-visual combo generates lightheartedness. The playful crowd — some costumed — tossed glow-sticks and blew soap bubbles.
After a rain delay cut Greensky Bluegrass short, Galactic threw down a funky set. Shortly after, Railroad Earth opened with “Black Elk Speaks.” Then the band played through songs including the appropriate “Storms” and “Head” before its first set break.
“Colorado” was the highlight of Railroad Earth’s two-hour second set, with the track seemingly written for the summertime moment.
Rolling along on Railroad Earth’s groove, we were bound for somewhere we’d never been before—somewhere Railroad Earth had never been before, either, because impressive improvisation is their freight. Past midnight, Railroad Earth played on. And on. They wound down their marathon show with “Peace on Earth” and “Seven Story Mountain.”
At 1:25 a.m. they ended the show with the song “Railroad Earth,” which stated more than asked “ain’t it good to be alive?”
Colleen Smith—the author of the acclaimed novel “Glass Halo” and the gift book “Laid-Back Skier”—contributes regularly to The Denver Post and heyreverb.com.