By Matt Brookman
Don’t Tell Philadelphia That It has No Heart
June 15th – Next stop on the Farewell Tour was Philadelphia, which is a special city for the Grateful Dead where they had sold out 53 shows – the most by any musical act — at the legendary Spectrum. The Philly faithful have continued to come out and support various incarnations of the band and tonight was no different with Citizens Bank Park filled to the rafters.
The band took to the stage and came out of the gate hot with the tour debut of “Women Are Smarter”. A song that would have usually found itself in the second set, it sounded at home as an opener and got the Philly crowd on their feet and dancing. The band followed with a funked-out version of “Shakedown Street” with John and Jeff taking the song to places it never had been before. Out of “Shakedown” they went into a raw and driving “Cold Rain and Snow”. John has delivered some strong “Cold Rain’s” this tour and this was another stellar version.
“Jack Straw” followed, which slowly built to a thunderous peak with Jay and Mickey completely locked in. It has been fun watching this duo get in synch and bringing the energy each night. “Brown Eyed Women” was next as the set continued to carry the high energy. Although a ballad would have been a likely next song, we were greeted with a huge surprise of “Dark Star”. The band went through various improvisational jams before leading to Verse 1. The second tour debut would follow with the Marty Robbins classic “El Paso”. This combination has been resurrected with Dead & Company, with the most notable version played 8/27/72. Bobby was in fine form and had the Philly crowd fully engaged. “Don’t Ease Me In” would follow and closed out the first set with a bang.
The second set started off with a tasty “Fire on The Mountain” and “New Speedway Boogie.” The Philly crowd was treated to a classic duo of “Estimated Prophet” into “Eyes of The World.” John started playing “Eyes” and then realized that wasn’t the next song. A funny moment ensued as John took his guitar off and laid it on the stage while Bobby started playing the opening to “Estimated”. They had the stadium rocking taking the jams to huge highs with John playing whirling leads. Bobby once again was in fine form both vocally and with his incredible rhythm playing. “Eyes of the World” would then finally find its way and oh what an “Eyes of The World” it was. This song has really shined on the Farewell Tour and this version would be no different. Incredible soloing from John, Jeff and Oteil! “Eyes” lead into “Drums” with the drummers taking the crowd on a tribal journey.
The drummers left the stage after delivering a thunderous finale which had the stadium reverberating. Jeff, John, Bobby and Oteil would return to the stage for “Space” with some dark and out there jamming that lead into “Dark Star Verse 2.” A monster “Cumberland Blues” came soon after showcasing fiery playing from everyone in the band. A beautiful “Standing on The Moon” followed with Bobby passionately delivering the Garcia/Hunter ballad. What other way Closing out this special set, was a rousing “Not Fade Away”. You could feel the stadium moving as the crowd danced their way through the rollicking version. The Philly crowd showed their love chanting “You know our love will not fadeaway!” while clapping in unison as the band left the stage.
The encore was “Ripple” as an appropriate sendoff to the city that embraced this band from San Francisco and made it one of their second homes.
Rare song of the night: “El Paso.” The Marty Robbins song has always been a special treat going back the later Grateful Dead days and the combination with Dark Star made this an even special treat. A tour debut as well.
Other must listen to moments: “Shakedown Street”, “Dark Star Verse 1”, “Estimated” “Eyes of The World” and “Cumberland Blues”.
Next stop is Saratoga and the legendary Saratoga Performing Arts Center. It feels like things might get a little bit Stranger. Don’t forget you can watch the show live on nugs.net.
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