REVIEW: Going Furthur - Three Nights in Colorado
- By Austen Bailey and Chris Mocharla
- Published on February 21, 2011
With the sun up, the snow plowed and the parking lots open, Broomfield’s 1st Bank Center was ready to host Furthur’s first shows since the New Year’s Eve run in San Francisco.
In a world where electronic fueled dance parties seem to be all the rage – pun intended – Furthur’s three-night run just outside of Denver was as refreshing as the cool air on our smiling faces.
Since the shows were all general admission it was possible to get as close to the stage as you wanted, that is, if you arrived early enough. But no matter where you stood, be it among the spinners in the back, in the seats around the floor or comfortably in the very first row, everyone was getting down.
[FIND news, downloads, pictures, videos and other information on Furthur's official website.]
Between original Dead members Phil Lesh and Bob Weir, former Dark Star Orchestra front-man John Kadlecik and a number of other highly-decorated and accomplished musicians, Furthur is a fluidity that is exciting to witness. So exciting that some have been so bold to describe Furthur as the greatest Grateful Dead side-project since Jerry’s death in 1995.
After a 16 hour drive from Texas, the anticipation was almost too much to bear and the excitement was palpable when the band took the stage. The boys began with a groovy version of “Jack Straw” that eased everyone into the evening and saw keyboardist Jeff Chimenti tickling the ivories with ease as 6,500 Deadheads of all ages poured into the venue until it was nearly at capacity.
The first set was noticeably more chill than the second each night and really helped set the tone for the weekend. I’ve been to a lot of shows, but until this weekend I feel like I didn’t truly understand what “good vibes” really meant. The feeling of community that resonates within the building during a Furthur show is something that you don’t necessarily get every time at an STS9 or Disco Biscuits show – and it’s really something special.
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Now, this may be due to the older median age of the crowd, the lack of teenage “spunions” or a combination of both, but whatever the reason, Furthur really has something special that seems to channel the message of the Grateful Dead in a way that can’t really be explained, but must be experienced.
On this weekend before Valentine’s Day, a soothing and soulful version of “Must Have Been The Roses” had fans swaying as they held their lovers, singing along with every word. The last two songs picked up and provided a fine preview of what was to be an epic second set, with superb versions of “Black-Throated Wind” and finally “Brown-Eyed Women,” another sing-along favorite.
The second set started with a slower “Weather Report Suite” before going into one of my favorite songs of the night, a 14-minute, “Let It Grow.” This song really showcased the band’s cohesiveness as each member took turns jamming out. The chemistry between Weir, Lesh and Chimenti was astounding and made for some gorgeous music.
After an inspiring version “Mountain Song” – a Furthur original that has its roots in a jam room collaboration between members of the Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young – the band segued into ”I Know You Rider,” before a little improv jam and my personal favorite of the entire run, a nearly 18-minute “Dark Star.” This song was nothing short of epic. As white lights and green lasers reflected off the numerous disco balls displayed on each corner of auditorium and fans hopped to the beat, Phil plucked his bass expertly sending the crowd into an uproar of glee.
As he crooned the opening lyrics we were teleported to a dimension that is the definition of the word psychedelic. Then they busted out crowd-pleaser, “Playing In The Band,” and finished with an awesome “Help On The Way” > “Slipknot” > “Franklin's Tower,” that had the crowd clamoring for more.
[FIND complete list of tour dates on Furthur's website.]
After Phil finished his customary “Donor Rap,” where he shares his utmost appreciation for organ donors and encourages everyone to take part in this life-changing program, it was time for the encore: “Liberty”
Phil dedicated the song to the people of Egypt who just hours before the show had successfully coerced their despotic leader to step down and hand the government over to its rightful place, in the hands of the people.
It was a beautiful moment as the crowd cheered and sang along, “Ooooh freedom! Ooooh liberty!” Our hearts and minds were united as we spilled out into the night – awestruck at what we had just experienced. But all I could think about was what was to come on Saturday night.
Furthur began the night with “Truckin’” and had everyone singing the melodic verses. “Ramble on Rose” followed and was a great way to set up “Seven Hills of Gold.”
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For the first set closer, the boys went with “Turn On Your Love Light” and had floodlights spreading over the entire crowd as everyone sang in unison. It was truly a remarkable moment to witness.
The second set on Saturday night, much like on Friday, was straight fire. Beginning with a sick version of “Shakedown Street,” a fan-favorite that I hadn’t heard since STS9 surprised us with it on the first night of their New Year’s Run in Denver, you could tell things were about to get funky.
“Terrapin Station” was pure insanity as the lights, the precision and the absolute musical mastery that was showcased on this song was unrivaled. To close out the second set we were surprised with the Beatles cover, “Hey Jude” and then the extremely fitting, “One More Saturday Night.”
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After the “Donor Rap” we were treated to the always special, “Attics of My Life” for the Saturday night encore, that nearly had me in tears. As fans hugged and found their loved ones on the way out to the lot to enjoy some delicious kabobs and wraps, the positive energy from the show seemed to stay with everyone as they left the building.
The first set included enough time for Chimenti to showcase his limber fingers across the keys, during the 14-minute “Sugaree.”
The set ender, “Women Are Smarter,” did quite a bit of rocking and rolling with Joe Russo killing it on drums and helping set the stage for the final set of the run.
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After the set break, Furthur wouldn’t stop playing until the show ended, segueing the entire second set. All weekend, the band found that delicate balance between each musician’s improvisational skills and the unified sound.
After the set opener “Colors of the Rain,” another Furthur original, they hit us with a classic “Scarlett Begonias,” and without skipping a beat went straight into the karaoke favorite “Fire on the Mountain.”
Some other highlights were a particularly jammed-out “Eyes of the World,” and the consistently fun “Sugar Magnolia.”
Two of the more unexpected moments of the night came in the form of another Beatles cover and a Rolling Stones cover, “Revolution” and “Satisfaction” – seeming to channel Egypt yet again.
As Phil said in his final “Donor Rap,” “Colorado brings out a particularly weird vibe” and with that vibe came some great tunes and a throw down of historic proportions.
02.11.2011 – 1st Bank Center – Broomfield, CO
Set I: Jack Straw, Me and My Uncle, Loser, Big River, Must Have Been The Roses, Deal, Black-Throated Wind, Brown-Eyed Women
Set II: Weather Report Suite, Let It Grow, Mountain Song, I Know You Rider, Dark Star, China Doll, Playing In The Band, Help On The Way > Slipknot > Franklin's Tower
02.12.2011 – 1st Bank Center – Broomfield, CO
Set I: Truckin' > Crazy Fingers > Dark Hollow, Ramble On Rose, Seven Hills of Gold, Cold Rain and Snow, Throwing Stones, Turn On Your Love Light
Set II: Shakedown Street > Viola Lee Blues, Bird Song, Terrapin Station > The Other One, Death Don't Have No Mercy, Dear Mr. Fantasy > Hey Jude* > One More Saturday Night
Encore: Attics of My Life
* = Beatles cover
02.13.2011 – 1st Bank Center – Broomfield, CO
Set I: New Minglewood Blues > Sugaree, On The Road Again, Pride of Cucamonga, C.C. Rider, Tennessee Jed, Bertha, Woman Are Smarter
Set II: Colors of the Rain > Scarlet Begonias > Fire on the Mountain > Estimated Prophet > Eyes of the World > The Wheel > Not Fade Away > Wharf Rat > Sugar Magnolia
Encore: Revolution* > Satisfaction^
* = Beatles cover
^ = Rolling Stones cover
Furthur kicks off their March tour with three nights in Boston, MA at the Orpheum Theatre. Find tickets and complete list of dates on Furthur's website.