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Furthur Rolls In To Hammerstein Ballroom

The Furthur Tour with Bob Weir and Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead got off to a great start at New York's Hammerstein Ballroom December 8th and 9th, a venue the Grateful Dead played back in 1971 when it was known as the Manhattan Center. It's been a long strange trip since then; coming full circle and back again, on a tour which will bring them to a number of classic venues the Grateful Dead played, including Barton Hall, Cornell University in Ithica, NY and Radio City Music Hall in February. The energy at these Furthur shows at the Hammerstein Ballroom was incredible, evident by the smiles on Phil Lesh's face and the intensity of the whole band. Very strong opening of a tour by a band which only played three shows together, prior to these, back in September. Weir and Lesh are joined by Jeff Chimenti of Ratdog on Keyboards, Jay Lane of Ratdog on Percussion, Joe Russo on Drums, and John Kadlecik of Dark Star Orchestra on Guitar.

Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, and John Kadlecik

I was right up front for both Hammerstein shows so I was able to get a few good shots. The playing was great with John Kadlecik of Dark Star Orchestra on Guitar and Jerry. Kadlecik brings a sound to Furthur that resembles Jerry Garcia enough to make this the closest thing to the Grateful Dead since Garcia's Death. John Kadlecik plays guitar with a similar sensitivity and his voice hits that same register as Jerry's. It's fun to close your eyes and try to imagine.....nehhh! Actually I caught Phil a few times with a smile on his face and closed eyes. Wonder what he was thinking? The old boys were definitely having fun. They seemed to be simultaneously recalling the past magic and brewing up some new spells of their own.

Lesh and Weir

Here are the setlists from the two Hammerstein Ballroom Furthur shows:

1st Set
Jam> Truckin'> Dire Wolf, Doin' That Rag, Ramble On Rose, Reuben & Cerise> Looks Like Rain, Cosmic Charlie

2nd Set
Drums> King Solomon's Marbles> He's Gone> New Potato Caboose> The Other One, Days Between> Scarlet Begonias> Fire On The Mountain, Cold Rain & Snow, Phil's Donor Rap, E: Touch of Grey

1st Set
Jam > Feel Like A Stranger > Deal, Crazy Fingers > Memphis Blues, Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo > Bird Song, Good Lovin'

2nd Set
Jack Straw, The Wheel > Welcome To The Dance* > Uncle John's Band, Unbroken Chain, Satisfaction, Let It Grow, Sugar Magnolia, Phil's Donor Rap, E: Johnny B. Goode
*New Phil Song

For me the high points of these two Hammerstein shows was the second set of 12/8/09, especially the Scarlet> Fire featuring Kadlecik on the vocals and guitar. This was a very emotional part for me. Really sweet stuff. I also really loved the Ruben and Cherise in the first set. This was a surprise song also featuring Kadlecik. Ruben and Cherise is one of those songs that was always a high point to see the Grateful Dead do with Jerry and also a favorite to see the Jerry Garcia Band perform. Kadlicik's interpretation was just sparkling with memories of Garcia. Just close your eyes and float to another place and time... Wow! In general I loved both of these shows, and as usual, I wish I could have gone to more. I can't wait for Radio City Music Hall in February.

Download all of the Furthur shows HERE

I'll be posting more photos to my flickr profile soon. Check back here for the link. I'll also be posting about the rest of the tour as it rolls on.

Strangers stopping strangers just to shake their hands. Everybody's playing in the Heart of Gold Band, Heart of Gold Band