Almost a year after they played the reopening of the remodeled 1STBANK Center and just five months after its three night run at Red Rocks, Furthur, the Grateful Dead spin-off featuring Dead members Bob Weir and Phil Lesh and Jerry Garcia sound-alike John Kadlecik, returned to Broomfield over the weekend.
The set opened with about five minutes of spacey noodling around before Lesh thumped out the opening bass line of "Truckin'" to bring the band around behind him. Keyboardist Jeff Chimenti laid down a solid boogie-woogie piano matching Weir's strong vocals, which were drowned out by the singing of the crowd through the entire song.
From there, the band meandered their way into a bluesy, bass-heavy jam that morphed into a beautiful but mellow "Crazy Fingers." The playing was good, but every now and then during the song, someone behind us would pop off a flash picture prompting the security guards to pull out their flashlights to obnoxiously scan across the crowd. I know Bobby and Phil are old, but are flashing lights really that distracting?
"Crazy Fingers" eventually moved into the folksy "Dark Hollow" that, fittingly, transitioned into the slow shuffle of "Ramble on Rose." Kadlecik and Wier traded off verses and guitar licks throughout the tune until Kadlecic turned it up on the solo with a compressed, auto-wah Jerry Clone-sound that had the gray-haired deadheads around me going nuts.
The meat of the set was a ripping "Cold Rain and Snow" reminiscent of an early '80s, Hammond B3-heavy, Brent Mydland version.
Fake Jerry Kadlecik's deep, thick tone echoed through the thunderous arena, while Lesh thundered out the low end with his powerfully loud and amazingly clear near-acoustic bass tone. The song ended and the band quietly jammed along as Weir strummed out the intro of "Throwing Stones."
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Again Weir belted out the songs loud and clear, with the crowd chipping in during the chorus. Drummer Joe Russo was amazing throughout the song, dropping jaws with his Animal-like drumming and fills that sound like they are coming from four arms instead of two. A hopping "Lovelight" showcasing Chimenti and Kadlecik's blues chops wrapped up the roughly hour-long set.
By the end of the thirty-minute setbreak, the crowd was nice and loose, passing joints and bowls across rows. Behind us, two teenagers, one in a fresh tie dye, stealthily sipped on a Coors Light tall boy handed to them by their cool uncle. On the floor, people old enough to be my parents -- as one guy pointed out -- took time out and sat where they were standing, opting to pass around water bottles.
Just about then, the lights went out,and the band walked on with a funky bass and clavinet funk jam that dropped into "Shakedown Street" that could barely be heard over the roar of the crowd. Cheers quickly faded as the packed room went into disco mode, shaking butts and boogieing down. Kadlecik tapped into slinky, smooth '70s Garcia-mode, while Weir slid his way through the rhythm guitar with his crunchy guitar work.
The jamming didn't really stop as the band moved into a scorching "Viola Lee Blues," with Russo again destroying the percussion as the song built to the frantic peak before the final slinky verse. A solid and mellow "Bird Song" preceded a dark and psychedelic "Other One," before the band went into the epic suite of "Terrapin Station." Spinners in the hallways danced slowly in circles, some singing the lyrics to themselves while others just had looks of intense concentration.
At the Wharf Rat table in a nook in the back of the venue, sober heads hung out and talked over bottled water. A girl was giving her saucer-eyed friend a talk down just as the band finished up the Arabian-themed third section and quietly shifted into the smoky "Death Don't Have no Mercy." Weir crooned out the slow, minor blues tune that put most of the crowd back in our section in their seats and the few kids in our section to sleep.
People woke up as the band went into a strong "Dear Mr. Fantasy," probably the only part of the night where backup singers Sunshine Becker and Jeff Pehrson made their presence known. Predictably, the band threw in "One More Saturday Night" to close out the set before sending the crowd home to bed with the sleepy "Attics of My Life."
Sure, there is a lot of nostalgia and guitar-based noodle jamming. After all, this is essentially the Grateful Dead. But the band was far from aimless when they ventured out into musical space. Clearly they have been gelling over the last two years, and the time on the road and practicing has paid off.
Weir's energy on stage and enthusaism in his voice is great to hear, and Kadlecik acts like the glue sticking the whole Dead universe back together. Chimenti and Lesh especially seem to play off of new melodies in Dead originals, some now approaching fifty years old.
Click through for setlist
Furthur 02.12.11 | 1STBANK Center Broomfield, CO
SET I Jam/Truckin' Crazy Fingers Dark Hollow Ramble on Rose Seven Hills of Gold Cold Rain and Snow Throwing Stones Lovelight
SET II Shakedown Street Viola Lee Blues Bird Song Other One Terrapin Station Death Don't have no Mercy Dear Mr. Fantasy Hey Jude Reprise One More Saturday Night
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Attics of My life
Download entire set here.
For photos from Saturday night, check out photographer Kate Levy's sideshow here.