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The Dead Rise To Occasion On First Week Of 2009 Spring Tour

The first few days of The Dead 2009 Spring Tour shows took a little longer than normal to show up on Torrent download sites like for some reason, but eventually they were there for the taking, and sharing. Each subsequent Dead show seems to take a few days to appear, hence I'm a little backed up with my listening to this point. It takes me a few days to listen to each show and have so far listened to the first three. Everyone seemed to rave about opening night Easter Sunday April 12th at Greensboro Coliseum, NC. The setlist can be found in my last post. I thought it was a good show with a great setlist. The show definitely had it's high-lights and the boys seem to make a statement that they came ready to play; but the second and third shows of The Dead's Spring Tour seem to build momentum, and if that energy continues to build they should be in peak form by the time the circus pulls in to town for me at Nassau!

Music Never Stopped was an apropos first song of the tour at Greensboro. The overall message was that the music never really did stop...Since the last incarnation of The Dead in 2004 Bob Weir and Ratdog, Phil Lesh and Friends, Mickey Hart and Billy Kreutzmann have all been busy with their own gigs...But The Dead, together again, have picked up where they left off with better Karma and a leaner lineup and sound which packs more punch this time around. I had said way back, after the first Barack Obama benefit, that I like this lineup with Warren Haynes on guitar and Jeff Chimenti on keyboards. It's a cleaner more streamlined sound than the last Dead lineup which also included Jimmy Herring on a third guitar, and Rob Barraco on keys as well as Chimenti, and Joan Osborne dragged around for more variation on vocals. It was too much of a mish-mosh of sound compared to the leaner cleaner sound of this current band, which can feature Warren Haynes more. Warren has and will continue to rise to the occasion throughout this tour as he always has in the past, given the opportunity. And the opportunity is there without Herring and Barraco as feature instrumentalists and Osborne as feature vocalist this time around.

Haynes shines on a number of songs in the first show, as well as more and more in the following two shows at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC and John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville, VA. Most of the first set of Greensboro was good but nothing great. The second set opens with a nice but not earth shattering Shakedown Street into a surprise All Along The Watchtower sung by Warren rather than the usual Bobby. This was a change that was not as welcome with me as it might have been by most. I think the familiarity of Weir's voice on this would have made it sound more Grateful Dead-ish, but that decision was the bands and Warren did sound nice belting this Dylan classic ala Hendrix - I just would've rather heard Bobby on this one personally. The rest of the show from that point was hot shit!

> Caution (Do Not Stop On The Tracks) > drums > space > Cosmic Charlie >New Potato Caboose > Help On The Way> Slipknot> Franklin's Tower, E: Samson and Delilah

Warren was great on the Caution jam and layed the Pigpen rap on nice... "I went down to see a gypsy woman..." The Drums > Space segment is one of the points in these shows that sound most like The Grateful Dead...because it mostly is The Grateful Dead, and Mickey and Billy pull out all the old tricks. The group effort on Cosmic Charlie is sweet. Phil's New Potato Caboose in to Help > Slipknot > Franklin's is a high energy way of finishing up the set. Warren is very comfortable on all of this material from the end of the set since all of these songs were staples in the Phil Lesh and Friends - Q - lineup that he was part of. They wrap it up with Sampson, their Sunday bible song.

All and all a strong show to start the tour and I'm sure the energy must have been great for the Deadheads who were there, but the following two Dead shows were even better. I can't possibly cover those shows in the same post (it would take me forever and the tour would be over), so maybe what I'll do is come back soon and post the setlists as the tour continues and I'll comment on some "high"lights. In the meantime if you were at any of these shows and want to share your thoughts please do so in the Comments. Thanks...and I'll see you on tour.

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