Deadheads consider it a big deal that Phil Lesh and Friends, along with Bob Weir and members of Ratdog, and other assorted guests, played a portion of the Grateful Dead discography in chronological order of release, and in track order, over 5 nights at the Warfield Theatre in San Fransisco. This all done for the closing of the theatre, a venue the Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia Band, and assorted Grateful Dead side projects and Post GD bands had performed. The Warfield was a Mecca of sorts for me personally, where I was lucky enough to catch one Jerry Garcia Band show on Jan. 30th 1993 while out on the West Coast for the Chinese New Year shows at The Oakland Coliseum a week before. This was a great way to cap off an awesome run of shows. Ah those were the days. Very Grateful I caught all those shows on that Trip...
It took me a long time to sift through these recordings due to the shear scope of them. I downloaded them from bt.etree.org and will provide links below. Rather than review each show, which would be quite lengthy, I'll just give my overall impression of them and some highlights for me. I'll break it down to a series of posts, since one post would be too long (besides, I can't write that fast). If you'd like to see pictures from, and read a comprehensive review of these wonderful shows check out Dead.net. There are lots of interesting things about these shows; not the least of which is just the fact that Phil (and Bobby) even thought of this concept. The Dead never bothered doing anything like that. It was almost counter to their concept of random, spontaneous, unplanned chaos. This almost seems too premeditated, in theory, but actually works on allot of levels. It's interesting to think of how long it must have taken for people in the audience to realize that Phil and Friends were taking a journey down a road never travelled by a Grateful Dead member before. Maybe by the third song of San Fransisco's Grateful Dead; Good morning Little Schoolgirl (sung by Jackie Greene) people started to catch on. The special guests from Ratdog including Bobby, Mark Karan, and Jeff Chimenti, and others including Dave Nelson, Henry Kaiser, Sikiru Adepoju, and Teresa Williams (Larry Campbell's wife) really added to the great energy of these shows and comes through in the recordings. The people that witnessed these shows are quite lucky.
The first night, 5/13/08, they played The Grateful Dead for the first set and Anthem Of The Sun for the second set. Weir joins them on the Cream Puff War and stays with the band for the rest of the show. Interesting that he didn't come out for his own songs like Beat It On Down The Line and Pigpen's Good Morning Little Schoolgirl sung by Campbell and Greene respectively. I love Larry's earthy vocals on BIODTL, but sometimes have trouble stomaching Jackie Greene's vocals on some songs; this being one of them. I prefer Bobby's barking on this one and wish he would have come out for it. Maybe he couldn't come out that early in the show due to Union Rules, who knows? That said, I can still deal with whatever Phil decides, just sometimes I would be happier with different choices for the lead vocals. Jackie's playing is just fine. He's a huge talent. I just tend to like him on his own material better than on some of the Jerry and Pigpen Dead stuff Phil has him do. Phil could have Larry Campbell do anything. Everything he touches is gold! Bobby sounded great playing and singing in Phil's band, adding a little more of that magical mix of the Dead's sound to the mix. He comes through strong on The Other One (and an added surprise Nobody's Faul But Mine in the middle of it), which is sandwiched between Phil's familiar versions of Cryptical. The Other One/Cryptical Suite is also highlighted by some nifty keyboard playing by Steve Molitz and Greene. Molitz adds his Techno sound while Greene contributes some Pigpenish 60's sounds. I can do without Jackie's Caution, which worked for me somewhat the first time I heard him sing it, but now comes off sounding kinda canned. It's a cutsie way to introduce the band; but he should leave that to Phil and his rap at the end. All in all I found that Anthem works for me, in this format, better than the First Album does. Maybe because the album itself has a flow to it, with one song fading in to the next anyway. Let's not forget that Anthem actually was recorded live over a run of shows and pieced together in layers on the record (remember records?). It really was a live album in disguise.
Have an opinion of these shows. I'd Love to hear it. Post a reply now! Thanks!
To Be Continued