Saturday, April 18, 2009
The Dead - Greensboro, NC
We arrived at Charlotte Airport from Jamaica at 2:30 Sunday afternoon, cleared customs and immigrations, retrieved our cars from the hotel parking lot and headed north to Greensboro to the Dead show. We were listening to the Dead Channel on XM radio, they had folks reporting from the parking lot and they were taking calls from fans going to the show, so the Bird called in, got on the air and updated the country on our status and excitement about seeing the Dead. According to the radio it was a quite a parking lot scene but by the time we arrived the show was starting.
The Greensboro Coliseum was my "local" venue for concerts when I was a teenager, Davis and I compared notes as we walked in, we've both seen a lot of good shows there over the years. My favorites might be Allman Brothers in the mid 1970's and Jethro Tull performing Passion Play in its entirety just after it was released. Davis and I both saw Led Zeppelin there in the late '70's. So it felt like old times when we walked and grabbed our seats just as the music was starting.
This first set of the tour I would call a "Greatest Hits" set. While they did stretch out some jams, mainly they just blasted straight ahead rocking tunes, including the "Music Never Stopped", "Jack Straw", "Touch of Grey", and "Truckin'". They also did a very nice "He's Gone". The crowd was totally into it, singing along on the verses, and making lots of noise. There were some problems with the sound system, which muddied up the vocals during the first set.
For the second set they started with a bouncing "Shakedown Street" and "All Along the Watchtower" then the space jams started. Or as Mickey says on one of the rehearsal videos, "It's time to crack open the jam jar"... They did a couple of old tunes ("Cosmic Charlie" and "New Potato Caboose") then finished it strong with Help is on the Way/Franklin's Tower/Slipknot.
The crowd was really loud and appreciative throughout the show, especially when Phil came out before the encore (which was "Samson and Delilah"). It was a good mix of young folks (including our teenagers, who enjoyed the show much more once we reshuffled the seats so the adults were on one side of the Coliseum and the kids were on the other side) and older Deadheads. The building was completely full of smoke (probably 3/4 cigarette and 1/4 ganja), classic North Carolina.
Each of the band members seemed excited and energized about getting back out on the road, Phil's vocals were the best that I have heard, Mickey and Bill were in top notch condition. Warren plays very well, he doesn't try to fill Jerry's shoes, he just brings his own style to the sound without dominating it.
All of us had a great time, I think that it was an excellent tour launch, plenty of energy and a good rockin' show. I remarked to the Bird that it would be nice to hear them play acoustically sometime (my appetite was whetted by the appeance on "The View" the other day). After spending the night at a lovely Hyatt Place, we loaded the car and headed north to Maryland...