Tuesday night Bob Weir and Wolf Brothers (featuring the Wolfpack) rolled in Madison, WI for a show at The Sylvee. Tuesday shows can sometimes be straightforward and nondescript. This show doesn’t fall under either of those categories. Even before the music began, there was a slight buzz amongst the crowd regarding the very cryptic and mysterious Dead and Company social media posting made earlier in the day. It seemed to be quite the topic as Deadheads hypothesized what it actually meant. Regardless, Bob Weir and Wolf Brothers (and the Wolf Pack) came ready to play.
Weir started up the night with a little introduction on guitar. It didn't sound promising. Thankfully it was not a sign of things to come, and when the rest of the band joined in for the Hell in a Bucket opener, the guitar blended in better. It ended up being quite the energetic opener. Mexicali Blues popped up third in the set, and with the horns in really was a great throwback to the original studio version recorded for Weir’s solo album Ace. The highlight of the set, perhaps even the entire show, came in Peggy-O. The Wolfpack, or the strings and horns, left the stage along with keyboardist Jeff Chimenti while Weir gave a very brief historical lesson on the origins of the traditional song. He also took the chance to swap out his electric guitar for an acoustic. Being stripped down to the original Wolf Brothers and pedal steel guitarist Barry Sless, the band began the delicate ballad.
Sless’ solos were absolutely gorgeous, with the twang of the pedal steel sounding brightly across the Sylvee. It was also in this song where Weir’s playing sounded pretty good. He seemed to be playing very delicately. Of course, his vocals were immaculate. Catfish John and Lazy River Road continued the set, culminating in a fun Good Morning Little School Girl sandwich with a Houndog inside. Short but fun first set.
After the set break the band opened up with Me and My Uncle. This version was the standard cowboy tune, and it wasn’t until after that the musicians really opened things. The crowd was immediately placed on a rocketship to another dimension courtesy of Weir, with a tasty and exploratory Dark Star serving as the vessel. The introduction was so long that some undoubtedly were questioning whether it was going to be an instrumental version. Perhaps on that train of thought, Weir howled “Dark Star crashing…” It only got jazzier with a Milestones contained within the Dark Star. Meandering out of Dark Star, the band settled on Estimated Prophet. Just getting from a regular 4/4 beat to the offbeat time signature of Estimated Prophet is noteworthy of its own merit. The band cruised through this song, and Weir definitely got the crowd riled up with Weir’s vocal outro that he always does at the end of the song. The most interesting segue of the night went to Estimated into Corrina. In fact, the second set could almost be seen as one big set. The Corrina had all the crowd had all the crowd dancing hard. Technically, then came the final lick of Slipknot, which alerted the crowd that Franklin’s Tower was imminent. Finally, the set finished out with a massive Terrapin Station suite. Of particular note was the piercing flute which populated the song
The show encored with the top ten hit Touch of Grey. Many people who heard it the opening notes began to head for the exits, leaving quite a bit more room for the rest of us that wanted to dance. Again, Weir was able to entertain the senses and ended the month of February on a very fun note. The tour continues tonight in Minneapolis with a few more dates in the Midwest, Texas, and California before the wolves go into hibernation.
Check out more photos from the show.