8-20&21-99 Combined The Greek
Theatre Berkeley, CA
The Greek -- Steve Archer, 11:45:06 08/25/99 Wed
The moon rose over the Greek on Saturday night, half full and surrounded by stars. Maybe it was that combined with the history of the Greek and the fact that I was center and close to Phil. In any case, it was one of the best night's I've spent listening to music or doing anything. Oh yeah, maybe it was the transcendant music.
Transcendant in that it rose above expectations, above the norm: way out there. I'm not surprised that there were a few folks who didn't have the show they were looking for. No doubt the expectations are skyrocketing for Phil shows after the scorching he gave us on tax day with Trey et al. It is a tribute to him in a sense, even if I don't agree with terms like flat, boring, etc. What was true with the Dead is also true for Phil, I think: A bad Dead show is the best place on earth to be that night.
BUT. But these were great shows, I thought. Really great improvisation.
Kimmock is like the fog over the bay: you don't notice it rolling in and
then it surrounds you.
Molo is beating the hell out of the drums. I love that. Wish there was an additional percussionist.
Kang/Al came off of smoking sets themselves and were innovative and relaxed amidst a challenging setlist. Phil was right on. Really on. He is playing the bass as well as I've ever heard him. If there are better examples, I'd love to know the dates, because I'll get the shows. Furthermore, seeing that Phil was alive, let alone dropping aural bombs all over Berkeley, was even better. (I wonder what effect Phil's transplant would have had on Jerry's life if he had been alive--miss Jerry every day still...)Also, I sensed that Phil is creating a really cool thing with these shows, and this is the meat of what I want to say, and what I hope to get feedback on.
I sense that Phil is passing on a musical heritage to a generation of musicians who were weaned on the music second hand for all their lives. But now Phil is taking them into the music by the hand, and teaching them what the Dead's repertoire can do. And he is creating a space in which these musicians can do what the Dead were always about musically: Add their own insight. Phil seems to be learning from them as well; seems to be having fun hearing the music sound different than he is used to. Much of the music I'm hearing in Phil and Friends, if not better than I heard the Dead play it (and some is better I think), is at least innovative in new ways. The music is passing the test of revision/replaying. This is the most innovative technique I've seen anyone in the Dead family use to keep the music alive. (I know that guests were a regular part of many Dead shows, but never were they the focus they now are.) Phil is relinquishing some of the limelight so that the music is centerpieced by those who will have the opportunity to continue to play it and teach it for years to come. The ripple effect of Al or Warren or Michael being able to say, "I learned this from playing with Phil himself..." will be as important for this music as it is in jazz, when one hears something like: "He played drums with Miles Davis". Anyone who hears that knows that the influence is real and pervasive and still effective. And it is important. I can't thank Phil enough for creating an environment where once again, the music will flourish for a long time.
The Greek -- Brian Lazarus, 01:22:20 08/25/99 Wed
Friday was great, Saturday was better!
Phil and Phriends Summer Session -- Mike J, 22:50:05 08/23/99 Mon
Well, I'll throw in my 2 cents. Saw Friday Greek. First show since Ratdog
put me off shortly after Jerry passed on. Saw 100 or so Dead about 30
Jerry before that.
I thought I would never have the experience again, but once the music started it came rolling back. I'm surprised (well, not really) that people are ragging on Warren and Steve. They jam at a level far above what Jerry and Bobby were able to reach, at least in the last decade or so. Jerry lived and played his music for a long time. Give the new guys some time and they'll take it to screaming new heights. I thought it was great.
How many shows did we go to hoping to hear St. Stephen or Unbroken Chain? Both in one night? Really cool. Mountains touched me deeply. Only one complaint (besides the usual dis on the crowd) Phil's voice - doesn't Phil have a Phriend who can sing? After years of Jerry Growl, now we get Phil Croak?
Re: Phil and Phriends Summer Session -- MReines, 05:42:32 08/24/99 Tue
> Well, I'll throw in my 2 cents. Saw Friday Greek.
I can appreciate your perspective. I have to disagree on some points,
however. I have not read anyone dissing Stevie K. and his potential as
a separate but equal to Jerry is refreshing and evident to me. Regarding
the vocals...Phil is bold enough to not only play songs written and sung
by Jerry but share his interpretation after years of nonvocal status.
Further, I think he sings pretty well most of the time. What were people
saying when Jerry started singing early in his career? I doubt Jerry was
talked about for his vocals. Phil hits the notes if you listen carefully
and sings from the heart like Jerry did. I agree at times it is distracting
and he hopefully will improve his range (he reports he is taking vocal
lessons),and hopefully get some help with harmonies to enrich his sound
(re: Unbroken Chain Fri night).
Kudos to Phil for undertaking this music and boldly sharing it...and loving it all the way. I think his passion is as grate as a teenage in his first rock band.
Re: Phil and Phriends Summer Session -- Andrew H, 21:03:54 08/26/99 Thu
I totally agree with you on 3 things here. The magic had been gone for me too, but this (my 1st P&F) show brought some of it back. Steve and Warren and Kyle and Molo and Phil-wow. the synergy they had with their jamming was at a higher level than I had ever seen with the dead in the 90s. If only they had better vocals, they could evolve to the greatest possible heights.
> I thought I would never have the experience again, but
Phil and Cheese, musical dream come true.... -- Erik, 11:16:05 08/15/99 Sun
All I can say is GREEK BABBBBBBY......YEEEEAH!!