Live Review: Phil Lesh and Friends: Mohegan Sun Arena, CT - 10.19.07 Print
Wednesday, 31 October 2007 18:50
pf-2007-band2.jpgBy Steve Santovasi - GJD Contributor
As a lifetime member of the Dead Nation, I could never miss an opportunity to absorb the energy that can only come from the improvisational spirit of the Grateful Dead. Regardless of the form or subtance there is a certain magic that takes place. From the opening riff as it begins to build up to an apex finally encompassing all members of the group on stage and not ending until the final cadence of the evening. It can be compared to musical bull-riding. A balance between modality and atonality, never allowing the musical flow to travel too far from its intended destiny, the members will all finally make their way back together and swing open a new door to the next song.

On a side note: As a musician, one of the most rewarding experiences you can have is to successfully "experiment" in a live situation. To continuously push the musical envelope both as a single musician and as part of an ensemble. Trusting only your ear and the ear of each musician. Pure magic and quite a rush. If you have never tried it, I would highly suggest the following experiment:

We call it "taking your eyes out of the music." On the next occasion that you are playing with a group of musicians, pick a tonal center (such as E).

Turn out the lights! - It works best by not using your eyes as a crutch.

Use the tonal center (the E note) as a landing zone for improvisational lines. Let go of everything you learned about staying in key centers. Just listen and play, concentrate on just the landing zone (E). Try adding different concepts such as diminished scales, whole tone scales, chromaticism, approach from half step above and below, tri-tones. As each member begins to let go, the energy in the room builds. It becomes like an elastic band, stretching and releasing. Tension and resolution without boundaries. You won't beleive what comes out: Absolute Magic.

We often use this technique in front of an audience and blow their mind. People come up after the set or show and ask,"How do you come up with that kind of sound?" The only reply is that we just make it up as we go along.

This concept was the basis for the Twilight Zone sessions that the Grateful Dead recorded for the 80's tv series. It was also the same concept that was used for the SPACE section of every Dead show.

This current lineup that Phil Lesh, the bass player from the Grateful Dead, is touring with is as solid as ever. On past tours he has shared the stage with world renouned players from nearly every genre. Phil certainly has many talented friends.

John Molo - Bruce Hornsby and the Range
Jackie Greene - Singer, Songwriter
Larry Campbell - Bob Dylan, B.B.King, Willie Nelson, Sheryl Crow
Steve Molitz - Particle

The show was energetic right out of the hopper, opening with a great version of Shakedown. Right away Phil knew the Casinio "had some heart". There was no forcing of the groove or overcompensating from the players. They grooved and did the music justice. Jackie Greene's vocal ability was a welcome addition and perfect for the material. The setlist went pretty deep into the Dead repertior while adding a few of Greene's tunes in the mix. The jams were on, Phil's vocals were mixed in nicely, and the band's harmonies were exceptional. The first set was short and sweet, the second set went longer and deeper. When the show ended everyone walked away with "nothing left to do but smile, smile, smile..."

Of course the regular casino patrons didn't know what to make of the thousands of smiling deads thinking "I can tell the Queen of Diamonds by the way she shines,and I got no chance of losing this time"

A great-Phil show all in all. As a Deadhead I give it 3 hackie-sacks up, way up!

Friday, October 19, 2007 7:00p.m.

Set 1:

Shakedown Street
Gone Wanderin'
Mississippi Half-Step
The Gambler, Candyman
Somebody Loan Me A Dime
Brown-Eyed Women

Set 2:
China Cat Sunflower
Uncle John's Band
Down In The Valley Woe
Mountains of the Moon><BR>Terrapin Station (Inspiration)>
St. Stephen>
Stella Blue Instrumental>
Sugaree> I Know You Rider


Phil Lesh (bass, vocals)
John Molo (drums)
Jackie Greene (guitar, vocals, keys)
Larry Campbell (guitar, mandolin,+)
Steve Molitz (keys)