Furthur at Red Rocks, 9/22/13
Last night marked the final show of Furthur's annual four-day Red Rocks run, and Mother Nature continued playing a prominent role as dark rain clouds quickly moved by on the horizon. Luckily, everyone came prepared for the worst, and for very good reason: Rain or shine, there was no chance anyone was missing what could possibly be the last show this band plays at Red Rocks.
"Samson and Delilah" started out the night with a bang, the song starting with just Joe Russo on drums, accompanied by the whole band singing for the first verse before they each joined in with their instruments. The crowd favorite had everyone on their feet and dancing, excited because it sounded like once again we had a high energy band. Phil Lesh was slapping his bass with authority for the next song "Foolish Heart," as Kadlecik released beautiful ascending melodies from his guitar.
It all made for a nice bright, major-chord jam just as the rain started to drizzle down. As the band brought things down low and started up "Black Throated Wind," the wind quickly picked up and made us wonder, "are they controlling the weather or just commentating on it?" While Bob Weir's vocals had been strong all weekend, they sounded just a little tired here, understandably; it's been a long, hard weekend.
Kadlecik took over vocals, singing a beautiful version of "Brown Eyed Women," with the line, "sound of the thunder with the rain pouring down," coming just as the skies opened up on the venue. It got so windy at that point that Kadlecik's guitar strap almost came off for a second. He's so pro, though; he caught it almost immediately.
With just a quick melody change, the band transitioned into "New Speedway Boogie," with Sunshine Becker stealing the show with her angelic backup vocals. That shrill guitar tone from last night's "Althea" was back, but then so were Weir's strong vocals as he really went to town here. When the line "spend a little time on the mountain" was sang, the audience all pointed to the sky, making for a really powerful moment between band and fans. Once again, Kadlecik's guitar work shined as he laid down yet another soulful guitar solo. A quick tempo "Deal" closed the set with Chimenti taking the lead and showering the crowd with twinkly piano fills.
Just before the band came back on after the set break, during which it poured, the crew added another mic stand to the stage, suggesting that a special guest was definitely going to be sitting in. Before we found out who it was, though, the band continued with the weather theme, starting set two with "Weather Report Suite," featuring some really beautiful slide guitar from Kadlecik, big backing vocals here and Russo laying down a strong rhythm.
And then, just like that, the band segue into "Let it Grow." Just then, Weir said, "Security!" and next thing you know there is Branford Marsalis on stage with his saxophone. The jam was fantastic, Russo laying it down hard and building the tempo until a huge peak with Marsalis just giving it his all. They group continued jamming in a funky, jazzy groove as Kadlecik once again threw in a gorgeous, high energy guitar solo.
The outfit then seamlessly transitioned into "Eyes of the World," and the crowd went wild. Chunky guitar chords from Weir charged the jam ahead, as Chimenti suddenly sped things up on piano, all while Marsalis blared his horn. The band took it down a notch as Russo let out a succession of quick triplets and the band then turned south into atonal sounds. Chimenti, meanwhile, employed his phaser, sending a spacey sound out into the crowd, and the outfit transitioned into "Dark Star V.2," completing the song they had left unfinished Saturday night.
The avant garde theme continued with a deep space jam really getting weird and out there as the audience proceeded to lap it up. Russo began building the drumbeat of "The Other One," and one by one, the other band members joined him until they were all together playing the song.
At times, the jam barreled along with Russ's steady beat but then dissolved back into atonal exploration. Waves of this went through until the band was playing slower, and then out of nowhere there was "Morning Dew." Kadlecik showed here that he is the best damn Fake Jerry the world has ever seen, nailing the vocal inflections and the emotion, and then destroying the solo with perfect guitar tone and sound. Jerry himself would have been proud.
From there the act transitioned into "Help on the Way," the addition of Marsalis on stage caused the jam to once again hit a real cool, jazzy groove before heading into "Franklin's Tower," to no one's surprise. A "Scarlet Begonias" tease was heard as the energy stayed high for the jam, with Lesh leading them back to cool down with a walking bass line. Chimenti dropped some major organ down as they crescendo into a huge peak to end the set. "Brokedown Palace" ended the run with a sentimental tug, the audience hugging each other, happy that an amazing run just went down here, and hoping that it wouldn't be the last.
Personal Bias: This was the most high energy run I have ever seen from this band.
Random Detail: The rainstorms washing over the horizon going right at Denver reminded me of "The Blob".
By The Way: It was pouring for set break, which presented an opportunity to head up to the Red Rocks Museum to check out the Scramble Campbell exhibit. Scramble Campbell is a local favorite that you can often find behind the easel at jam band shows, painting the band while they are playing and channeling their energy into his art. Amazing work and he has a gallery in the Santa Fe Arts District if you want to check out more.
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