On Saturday, February 25, Bob Weir & The Wolf Bros delivered an incredible night of music to a sold out crowd at the Louisville Palace. The elegant venue set a unique tone for a jubilant evening of music with Bob Weir. The vibrant colors of the building’s interior and the ornate architecture was brought to life by The Wolf Bros’ marvelous light show and the timeless music that draws his fans from all across the country.
Having seen Bob Weir’s most recent incarnation, The Wolf Bros, once before in 2019, I was surprised to see that the band had expanded quite a bit. When they first formed a few years ago, it was just a trio consisting of Weir on guitar and vocals, Don Was on standup bass, and drummer Jay Lane. They’ve since brought on board both Jeff Chimenti (keyboardist for Dead and Company) and pedal steel master Barry Sless.
The show started off with a set of high-energy songs. They kicked the night off with Bertha, and quickly dialed into each other's playing by the middle of the song. After an excellent showcase of Chimenti’s piano skills, the song segued right into a slow, but danceable, version of Good Lovin’.
After the first two songs, an ensemble of five additional musicians joined behind Sless and would proceed to come on and off stage throughout the night.
As the accompanying musicians were taking the stage, all eyes and ears were on Bob Weir as he began to tell a story about him and his longtime friend and lyricist John Perry Barlow.
He told a story about when they were living in a cabin “miles and miles from any other human” and how their adventures often would lead to songwriting sessions. He proceeded to recount the day that inspired the two of them to write Black Throated Wind, before ultimately leading into a beautiful rendition of the song, which is off of Weir’s first solo album, Ace.
The audience was treated to a tropical sounding version of RatDog’s Money for Gasoline next, which gave the accompanying brass players the opportunity to add some complimentary sounds to the tune. After that, the brass players retreated before the crowd gave the band their biggest reaction so far as they began the opening chords of Friend of the Devil.
Having switched guitars to his acoustic, Bob Weir brought the energy down to a mellow but enjoyable level, only to begin building it once more towards a lively conclusion. Keeping the party going, they paused just long enough for Weir to switch back to his electric guitar, then smashed out a remarkable version of I Need a Miracle.
Without stopping, the music blended right into the beginning of Lost Sailor, which transitioned beautifully into Saint of Circumstance after an incredibly trippy jam to end the first set.
When the lights came back on to start the second set, only the original three Wolf Bros were on stage. They performed an intimate cover of Little Feat’s Easy to Slip, which has been a staple of Bob Weir’s catalog throughout several of his bands. Having just heard the first set, which had up to ten musicians playing at points, the deconstructed sounding nature of the original trio gave an ‘unplugged’ feeling to the music.
All of the musicians returned to the stage next and started into the Bob Dylan and Robert Hunter song Silvio. At this point the horns made their presence known, amplifying the music’s high points with perfection and ease, and turning the Wolf Bros’ sound into something entirely new. In the middle of the song, faces throughout the crowd began to light up as they recognized the song that was being teased. Eventually the entire band synced up and broke out into Tequila for a few fun rounds of the chorus.
So far the crowd was reacting well to the covers, which was a good thing given what was still in store for them. Cheers erupted as Jay Lane could be heard pounding out the opening drums of Come Together. A theater-wide singalong followed as Bobby serenaded the crowd with the Beatles’ classic, which included an instrumental tease of Eleanor Rigby.
Returning to the Grateful Dead’s catalog briefly, Playing in the Band was up next. That transitioned into Eyes of the World, which struck an emotional chord, as it often does.
The fluidity of this music, complemented with the unique instrumentation, allowed the band to seamlessly blend one song into another, all night long. Before long, Eyes of the World was beginning to sound like Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On. After a few dreamy minutes, the music returned to its original form, segueing all the way back to the reprise of Playing in the Band.
As the night drew towards the end, Morning Dew gave everyone a final chance to take it all in and absorb Bobby’s latest lineup of musicians. They ended on a powerful and energetic note, only leaving the stage briefly before returning to the stage for a predictable, but special version of One More Saturday Night.
Bob Weir & The Wolf Bros
Louisville Palace - Louisville, Kentucky
February 25, 2023
Black Throated Wind
Money for Gasoline
Friend of the Devil
I Need a Miracle >
Saint of Circumstance
Easy to Slip
Playing in the Band>
Eyes of the World>
What’s Going On?>
Eyes of the World>
Playing in the Band (Reprise)
One More Saturday Night