The Dead at the Gorge

I just got back from a 4500 mile two week road trip that was roughly centered around seeing the Dead at the Gorge Amphitheatre in Washington. I have heard before that there are two places on earth that a music fan should experience in person. One being Red Rocks, and the other being the Gorge. Living in Denver, I am at Red Rocks at least twice a year, so I made the pilgrimage to the Gorge and it was amazing. Aesthetically, it kicks Red Rocks ass, and sonically too. It is too amazing to even describe, so here are some pics.

We begin with the Allman Brothers: For the most part, the set was standard, except placement of the songs and a couple of unusual covers. If you aren’t a huge Allman Brothers fan, skip ahead. About three songs in, the band did Statesboro. I have been watching the band for 15 years now and they had always started with Statesboro. Other set oddities included a cover of the Band’s ‘The Night they Drove Old Dixie Down”. Better still, the closed with a smoking version of Layla. The band had never covered this song, but they kicked it’s ass. An interesting side-note is that Greg Allman’s brother Duane is the dude who wrote that song with Clapton those many years ago. Derek and the Dominoes: the name ‘Derek’ was a combination of ‘Eric’ and ‘Duane’ (who has since died about 30 years ago in a motorcycle crash). Musically, Warren Haynes carried the show as usual, handling most vocals and guitar work.

On to the Dead:
the set list is here, nothing too significant to report... but Terrapin is always a highlight for me. Musically though, they sounded 100% better than they did at Red Rocks last month. They have really tightened everything up since then. Phil Lesh basically was a musical mastermind with the bass. If you listened closely, you could tell that he was directing the band as to where to go with subtleties in his playing… much like I witnessed Carter Beauford do with the Dave Matthews Band years ago. Also, perhaps they took my advice… but Phil did NO singing and we were all better off for it. The singing was primarily handled by, you guessed it, Warren Haynes. Clearly Warren doesn’t have much on his plate this summer. He released ‘Live at Bonaroo’ and is out promoting that. Also, he is out touring with his band Government Mule. In between that stuff, he is (as he has been for about 15 years) singer and guitarist for the Allman Brothers. When not working on that, he is now the singer and guitarist for the Dead.

If you are wondering what the Dead look or sound like (and you should), they are going to be on Jay Leno on July 20th. I have also consistently heard from folks that this year's band kicks major ass over last year's band (which was the first year of the official reformation of the band since Jerry's death). The difference being last year they didn’t have Warren, and instead had Joan Osbourne on vocals. If you remember how much Donna Jean oversang on everything… you can imagine how that went.


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