It’s interesting to me that the guys in the smallest print make the biggest difference. As much as Weir looks like Peyton Manning calling audibles and trying to land airplanes with his gestures, Jeff is definitely the brother that keeps things from falling apart. If Jeff gets lost, everyone is screwed. The music seems much better when nobody is paying attention to Weir’s directions. I think they should call the band OJ & Company and travel in white Ford Broncos… Oteil clearly leads the Joy portion of the program. That Cat makes everyone happier than they already are. His fan base is so strong that Mayer keeps moving his equipment closer and closer to that side of the stage trying to claim some of it. Interesting how the humble are exalted in this case. It’s a good thing Jeff is on Bob and Mickey’s side of the stage to balance things out. From an energy perspective, stage right is like the fat kid on the seesaw. Without Jeff over there, Weir and Mickey would be stuck in the air… Waving directions and shit… While the fat kid laughs…
Night 2 at Shoreline got started just like a lot of other nights so far on the tour only different. Weir came out with a tambourine. Weir needs a tambourine like Mickey needs women’s loafers. It looked like Stevie Nicks went a year without getting her lip waxed. I’m not sure if the tambourine threw him off or it was just a completely rhythmless moment but the brother couldn’t tap the tambourine on time and couldn’t enter the song properly. Maybe in his mind, he was back at a campfire singing Blue Mountain. No big deal, things got back together pretty quick and the Church service began. My favorite part of Samson was always Garcia’s backup. He would stand over there and fire off notes in rapid succession, chin pinned to his chest as the massive sound of Samson would make runs up and down the ladder. He would play with his knobs so much I was afraid he might miss some notes that were supposed to be there but he rarely did. Precisely at the right moment yet a second behind where I might expect it to be, Garcia would take the 2 or 3 steps to the mic, look over his glasses and drop it smooth as a greased otter, “If I haaaaaad myyy waaaaay, If I haaaaaaaaaaad my waaaaaay aaaaaaay, If I haaaaaaaaaaaaaad my waaaaaaaaaay!” Mayer did Donna impressions instead…
I’m not gonna write much about the first set because I don’t think there was much worthy of the time. I dig El Paso but it was muy despacio. Dough Knees was a fun closer! I was having a hard time thinking they might throw up a stinker on a Sunday. I should know from hundreds of past experiences, that isn’t possible. Not at Shoreline, not on Sunday.
The second set kicks of with my favorite trio. It’s like The Father, Son and Holy Ghost of Dead music. The similarities are uncanny. I could write an entire book on that alone. Help-> Slip-> Franklin’s is my favorite for John on vocals. I think there’s just too much going on musically for him to fuck with his approach to singing it. I personally prefer that musicians don’t take too many liberties with Garcia’s tunes. The songs stand for themselves and don’t need any vocal gymnastics. Weir kills Garcia songs regularly by singing them like Weir. Please don’t get me wrong here, I love Bob’s style of singing. It’s as unique an approach as any but it comes across very awkward to me when it’s on a tune that belongs to Garcia. Oteil gave the Master Class on how to approach a Garcia tune the night before. Anyway, Mayer does a great job singing Help On The Way and his work during the tumultuous ride of Slipknot was fantastic. The Father lays down the hope of things to come, The Son is that hope manifested but ultimately beaten violently before being nailed to the cross and The Holy Ghost is the Power available to ALL as a result of the resurrection! That’s like Franklin’s!!! No other tune in history makes me move as joyously as Franklin’s! It always meets me at my place of need and helps me to see past it all to the victory side! It did just that Sunday night.
Then you get Scarlet-> Fire! That’s some tremendous shit right there! I wondered to myself if it would be possible when Garcia was alive to get Help-> Slip-> Frank Scarlet-> Fire and live… I’m under the impression that the band probably knew back then that large-scale, spontaneous combustion would have been a real possibility that they weren’t willing to risk. The environment created by successive jams of this nature continue to remind me why I’m still onboard this Long Strange Trip which, by the way, I’ve watched 3 times on Amazon so far. Like listening to Grateful Dead Music, there’s something new I get out of it every single time!
Mickey is really making shit happen up there jamming out with women’s loafers and shit. The kitchen utensils are being replaced by women’s footwear. I look forward to stiletto jams by the time we get to NYC. That will be Hot! Maybe rub together some fishnets and other forms of stockings. Nothing wrong with coming out of the closet with your fetishes in a safe and loving environment.
The Other One was the storm clouds that preceded the Hard Rain and Weir does a great job with that tune! A mood was created by that one for sure. Props to Mickey on the beam during the Hard Rain, that was some outstanding work. The substance of the song caused the air to seem thicker than it was only moments before. Casey Jones cleared the air like Cocaine will clear a bank account! A great way to close another great set at Shoreline and wake up the wooks that nodded off during Dylan’s A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall. The Brokedown encore fit the end of Shoreline and a few days off at home perfectly.
Mickey is shopping for some new equipment today and rumor has it there are some BIG surprises yet to come. West Coast shows have East Coast Heads as unproductive as possible to their employers. My kids have been late for school every single day following the night of a show. The obsession is in full swing as we move on to Utah. I’m outta time for now, see ya soon! Love You Forever!
Dead To The Core,
Dean Sottile (pronounced So Tilly)
@gd50th on Twitter
Grateful Dean on Facebook