Reviews > Shows
Furthur, Fairfax, VA > Ithaca, NY, 2/13 & 14
Photo by Craig Taraszki
In the midst of their first extensive tour, Furthur – comprised of original Grateful Dead members Bob Weir and Phil Lesh, and John Kadlecik on guitar and vocals, Jay Lane on percussion, Jeff Chimenti on keyboards, Joe Russo on drums, and backed by vocalists Sunshine Becker and Zoe Ellis – performed three shows this President’s Day Weekend. On Friday night, the Furthur bus pulled into Hampton, Virginia – a former Grateful Dead stomping ground from the 1980s – and right away the band showed that this town still had its “heart,” busting out a powerful “Shakedown Street” opener. As the night progressed, the arena gradually filled up and by the beginning of the second set, the crowd all felt like they had been there before during a raucous “Scarlet Begonias” that segued seamlessly into “West L.A. Fadeaway.” Other Hampton highlights included a “Dark Star” for the ages and a harrowing “Days Between.”
On Saturday, February 13, Furthur played perhaps their best show of the tour at George Mason University, in Fairfax, Virginia. Both sets featured tightly played material spanning the Grateful Dead’s 45-year history, making for a magical night. The first set’s “Friend of the Devil” and “Sitting on Top of the World” showcased blistering solos by Kadlecik, and the second set’s “Help On the Way” -> “Slipknot!” -> “Franklin’s Tower” was flawlessly played. The band was incredibly locked in – so much so that they weren’t paying attention to the strict midnight curfew and had to rush a three minute “Johnny B. Goode” pseudo-encore.
The expectations were high for the bands return to Barton Hall, at Cornell University in Ithaca New York for the first time in nearly thirty years on Sunday. Rather than relive the old nostalgia, Furthur was more intrigued with the prospect of playing a Valentine’s Day show. The first set was full of love songs including “They Love Each Other,” “Peggy-O,” “Looks Like Rain,” “Sugaree” and “Good Lovin’.” The second set continued the love vibe, with a sweet Uncle John’s Band followed by two post-Grateful Dead tunes – Ryan Adams’ “Peaceful Valley” and RatDog’s “Ashes and Glass.” After losing the older crowd for a bit during these two newer songs, Furthur brought everyone back and concluded the second set in style, trying to “tear this whole building down” during the “Sampson and Delilah” encore.
Although Furthur is billed as, “featuring Bob Weir and Phil Lesh,” the band clearly is a collaborative effort. The younger musicians in the band push Weir and Lesh, and vice versa. With more than twenty shows under their belt, the group seems to have reached a musical comfort level and on any given night, magic can happen like it did in Fairfax.
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