November 6th, 2008

Chris Keeley

And the 1970s Dead Shall Arise (Sort of) and Jam With a Revolving Cast

And the 1970s Dead Shall Arise (Sort of) and Jam With a Revolving Cast

The latest version of Phil Lesh and Friends formed a little more than a year ago, which hardly makes it new to Mr. Lesh’s core audience. What kind of bandleader can play 14 shows in a row at a 2,000-capacity hall in New York City? One whose admirers might ritually attend every show, calibrating the shifts and balances, theorizing about meaning. Some in attendance at the Nokia Theater on Monday night, maybe many, weren’t average fans; they were meteorologists at the data center.

The old Phil Lesh and Friends, begun in 2000, was a step away from the gentle, cobwebby sound-world of the Grateful Dead, the band with which the bassist Mr. Lesh spent 30 years. It was loud and dense, full of Warren Haynes’s white-soul singing and red-meat Southern-rock guitar improvising. This new version keeps the solid rock rhythms; the drummer, John Molo, is the only carryover from that earlier group. But it’s a more delicate operation.

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