Concert Reviews

Furthur at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, 9/22/12

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Chimenti is a chameleon on the keys, at times playing around in Pink Floyd-esque reverb on a Rhodes and at others nailing the huge sound of deceased Grateful Dead keyboardist Brent Mydland -- namely in the massive swells during the "Morning Dew" encore. A nod to the alpine surroundings was up next with the pairing of Ryan Adams's "Peaceful Valley," followed by a powerful, Phil Lesh-filled "Mountain Song." There's an almost gospel element to this tune towards the end, especially with the wall of vocal sound created by the soaring tones of backup singers Sunshine Becker and Jeff Pehrson over the gruff, road-hardened voices of Lesh and Weir.

The cap of the set was a version of "So Many Roads," which moved into a blistering version of "Sugar Magnolia." It might as well have been Jerry Garcia beamed in from whatever planet he currently lives on to the stage during "So Many Roads." Even after this many years, it never gets old how Kadlecik is able to channel Garcia's emotion and sound.

Weir continued to sound strong and shine during the band's second set, opening things up with "Playing in the Band" and smoothly transitioning into the moody, bluesy tune "No More Do I." Lesh and Kadlecik really began to connect on the latter, as Lesh's basslines punctuated Kadlecik's searing guitar lines through the jam of the song. The two smiled away at each other as Kadlecik started to tease at the intro to "China Cat Sunflower."

The crowd lit up when the band followed along, and before long everyone was bouncing along to a thumpy, joyously psychedelic "China Cat." Weir and Kadlecik's intertwining guitar work as the band shifted to "I Know You Rider" was uplifting and led to the wonderful drop in the opening verse.

Lesh's bass rolled around between the monoliths through the song, only outdone by the roar of the crowd after the line: "I wish I was a headlight on a north bound train/I'd shine my light through the cool Colorado rain." The band was killing it and they knew it.

So did the thousands of people in front of them, for that matter. By the time "Dark Star" -- a Dead song to top all Dead songs -- began, it wasn't so much a mind-blowing selection as it was fitting with the already amazing evening. Notes started to get hazy at this point as dancing and enjoying the show became top priority, but sandwiched in the middle of "Dark Star" was a rousing "St. Stephen" and Lesh's "Unbroken Chain".

Bringing things back around nearly full-circle to the first set, Kadlecik plucked out the signature Garcia opening to "Fire on the Mountain." Lesh followed and lended a '70s-era gusto and pep to his signature bass lines. It was the perfect way to end the second set: Leave the peoples' ears ringing and their feet hurting from dancing so hard. Hopefully they all have tickets, though: Night three is sold out.

Page down for a Critic's Notebook, video and setlist.

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Chris Decker