Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Dead And Company at The Hollywood Bowl, 6-3-19 Concert Review

Dead And Company started their two-night run at The Hollywood Bowl last night, delivering a fairly mellow but really good and interesting show. The doors were scheduled to open at 5:30 p.m., but for one reason or another the good folks who run things at The Hollywood Bowl were not ready, and a large crowd formed just outside the gates. People – including us – were a bit out of it, and kept thinking they saw the gates opening and patrons walking up the hill. But these were mere illusions, hallucinations, providing a topic of conversation but nothing more. At 5:54 p.m., a cheer went up as the gates finally opened. You know, the web sites and the official word from the band said for people to get there early in order to get through security, and lots of folks followed those instructions, but to no purpose. Ah, no matter. By like 6:15 or 6:20 p.m., we were inside and making our way up the hill. The screen on the stage behind the drums had a really nice “Steal Your Face” image. I was digging the colors.

We had guessed, based on the Shoreline start times, that they would go on at 7:30 p.m., so it was something of a surprise when the band came out at 7:19 p.m. I love seeing the boys when it’s still daylight. They opened the show with “Cold Rain And Snow,” which wasn’t what either my friend or I had guessed. I was thinking “Hell In A Bucket” or maybe “Jack Straw.” Interestingly, they ended up playing both of those tunes as the first set progressed. “Cold Rain And Snow” featured a nice little jam, with John Mayer getting into it, but nothing too wild. And there was a bit of breeze up in our section as they sang about the “chilly winds.” The band then eased into “Hell In A Bucket,” and on the big screen we could see that Oteil Burbridge had his face paint on again, ready to lead us into unusual territory. The song felt a bit weird and messy, but that might have been at least partially the fault of my perspective. For a moment I thought they’d drifted into some other song after the first verse – and weirdly the hook to “Way To Go Home” popped into my head – but whatever, I was enjoying the ride. And the song got on track toward the end. Then some tuning had us all guessing. None of us guessed “Easy Wind,” which is what they played, John digging into some Pigpen territory. He didn’t quite get there, of course, but he was trying. But on guitar, he was hitting it just right, that great bluesy stuff. Suddenly the song was over. I thought it was going to go on a little longer, and was surprised when it came to an end.

“Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo” was next. Did Bob Weir’s vocals cut out at the beginning? Something was weird, anyway. But this tune began to go places in little ways. The vocal section sounded strange to me. But after that, we were on our way, just as the band promised. The “Across the river” section had a sweet vibe, as did the jam that followed it, a relaxed, cool feel. It kind of drifted off at the end. But it was followed by one of the highlights of the night for me, “High Time.” The whole crowd was excited as the song began (and I learned today that it was the debut performance by Dead And Company, so that was probably part of the buzz). Bob delivered a somewhat tender vocal performance, and the song featured some seriously nice harmonies too. Oteil sang a couple of verses, and some of the folks around me remarked how good his voice is. Oh yes. Plus, John’s guitar sounded so right. The song ended gently, and it seemed that everyone felt the song was a highlight of the first set, if not the entire show.

A somewhat mellow jam began “Jack Straw,” keeping us in a pleasant, relaxed place. I got immersed in the jamming, and was a bit surprised when they sang the “Leaving Texas” line. I thought we were farther along. The song started sounding really good. Not exciting, but really good. The band did try to take off, gaining some power at it led to “Jack Straw from Wichita cut his buddy down.” That was followed by “Bird Song,” which also began as a mellow jam, and seemed the perfect moment to take that second edible. At the start, this song was very mellow, almost delicate at times, with Bob holding off for a second before “Snow and rain.” We started to get into spacey territory, but then the band pulled back a bit, kept things slightly more grounded. The jam was still in motion, though, and the band tried again along a different avenue, a new tangent. Then after another verse, they went into a fun, jazzy, breezy jam. Things were certainly moving now. This jam was fantastic, and the crowd responded with cheers as they eased back into the main part of “Bird Song.” I was no longer even sure where we were at that point, but I could have lived within that song for a while. Wonderful stuff, and another highlight of the show. They then wrapped up the first set with “Don’t Ease Me In,” ending the set with a bit of a pop, this version featuring some energy from Jeff Chimenti on keys. The first set concluded at 8:37 p.m.

During the set break, a guy behind me coughed, and it sounded like he dropped a cardboard box full of nails. The woman to my right didn’t seem all that friendly, barely moving to let folks get by. She was seated for most of the first set, probably the only one in the entire place. Though, again, it was a mellow first set. The break was only thirty minutes – enough time to climb the hill to the bathroom and return – and the band was back on stage at 9:07 p.m. They opened with “Iko Iko,” starting the second set off as a party, folks singing and clapping along. Were there some new verses, something orange? Not sure, since I was in a slightly different realm myself. That was followed by “New Speedway Boogie,” with the line “I spent a little time on the mountain” getting a cheer. Anyone who climbed the mountain to the loo during set break could certainly appreciate the line. “One way or another, this darkness got to give.” Blue lights spilling into pink lights, pink pumping into blue, above the stage. “New Speedway Boogie” let straight into “Sugaree,” the screen on the stage a fiery pit turning into reflections of water, then into smoke, and soon into a giant sea flower opening into eternity, while a crooked finger acknowledged a balloon. Soon John entered a cool bluesy spot, taking things up to a nice height, from where you could see both yesterday and tomorrow. Then a crack, and we were pulled back to the present as John returned to the lyrics. There was a pause in the magic, turning and teasing, and some of us wondering where they were going. They emerged into “Help On The Way,” and when they got it going, it came on strong, the crowd appreciative. The jam got a little jazzy, and I was digging it. During “Slipknot!” things started getting even more interesting, taking us out on a funky and jazzy ride. Then a bright pulse moved through “Franklin’s Tower,” which was fun to dance to. The jam took us in another direction, as things slowed. Then suddenly they burst up through again.

The transition into drums was oddly relaxed, easing us into the drum solo like dropping us gently into an alien pond. But soon there was a strong pulse, and the beast began moving under its own weight, wielding a club aimed at dangerous shadows. A mixture of gold and human blood dancing through the scientist’s tubes, landing on metal, as a choir of chained angels sang off to the side, guiding us to an odd birth. Each beat was part of the story, and the pulse seemed to be that of a lurking lizard of immense proportions. Soon the beat swallowed all delicate things, breaking into tiny, angry electric lights of bright colors, and the animal rose up out of the machinery. Yeah, a fantastic drums sequence. And it was only now getting into the stranger, trippy areas, full of electric mist, our ship guided by the recently deceased and something much older, rays of light piercing individual drops of blood, the sun then rising, removing whatever pain might have been there. And we are in “Space,” treading carefully in a sacred place, stepping on sharp rocks and into dark pools, while ghostly, tender hands caressed an eager new world. It was now an ancient service that we’d become a part of, and dawn was greeted with a cheer.

As “Stella Blue” began, the lights were all blues and greens, like the music had created an underwater city. This was a pretty version, being most beautiful in its gentlest moment. Gorgeous as wind. It led directly into “Not Fade Away,” which came thumping in, like the glorious end to the party promised in the set’s opener. Just keep that groove going, I thought. At 10:42 p.m., the second set ended, but the crowd kept it going, and within a minute the band was back on stage for the encore. The encore was a nice surprise, “Terrapin Station,” the song my friend had been hoping to hear all night. It was certainly a welcome choice of encores, and the jam went into some interesting and enjoyable territory. And that’s where the band left us, on a bright mountainside. The show ended at 10:56 p.m.

Set List

Set I
  1. Cold Rain And Snow
  2. Hell In A Bucket
  3. Easy Wind
  4. Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo
  5. High Time
  6. Jack Straw
  7. Bird Song
  8. Don’t Ease Me In
Set II
  1. Iko Iko
  2. New Speedway Boogie >
  3. Sugaree
  4. Help On The Way >
  5. Slipknot! >
  6. Franklin’s Tower
  7. Drums >
  8. Space >
  9. Stella Blue >
  10. Not Fade Away
  1. Terrapin Station

The Hollywood Bowl is located at 2301 N. Highland Ave. in Los Angeles, California.

No comments:

Post a Comment