Ten year anniversaries are certainly something to celebrate, and that is exactly what Joe Russo's Almost Dead did this past weekend with a four night run of shows in the New York City metro region. The performances were at the Brooklyn Bowl for the first night and the Capitol Theatre for the rest. This quintet started out as a concept act for the 2013 NYC Freaks Ball, and have evolved into selling out the likes of Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Mr. Bob Weir sat in with them at the Brooklyn Bowl, which was unquestionably a nice tip of the hat to this hardworking group of musicians.
The band was unequivocally reeling on the first night of the Capitol Theatre run, January 27, 2023, after having played with Weir the night before. This was not drummer Joe Russo's first collaboration with the famed Grateful Dead guitarist, because Russo served as the drummer for Phil and Bobby's prior project, Furthur. In addition to the sit in, he and his band mates, keyboardist Marco Benevento, bassist Dave Dreiweitz, guitarist Tom Hamilton and guitarist Scott Metzger, unleashed two sets of Grateful Dead inspired bliss that incorporated a first time played cover as well as a 90's alt rock throwback.
The band walked out on stage and was set up in front of roses strung together and hung from the ceiling, almost like curtains. The show began with an extended build up to "Scarlet Begonias," which was led by Hamilton's guitar work and eventually exploded into this breezy Grateful Dead tune. The music flowed into the first time played "Six Days on the Road" by Dave Dudley, as well as the fiery "Hell in a Bucket." Metzger layered in tasty guitar licks and contributed his vocals for this song.
The mellow "Black Peter," from the 1970 release Workingman's Dead, gave all in attendance a much needed chill moment. The cadence slowly picked up, as Russo's drumming guided the charge into the bubbly "The Eleven." Hamilton was fired up as he unfurled his guitar effects leading into the vocals. A psychedelic segue usered into a set closing "I Know You Rider." This included a nice piano breakdown by Benevento and face melting electric guitar by Hamilton.
Set two brought more raging heat, starting with King Radio's "Men Smart, Women Smarter." Metzger sang this fun tune, which dove into another complex jam that found Russo in the center. A brilliant segue into the classic Jerry Garcia tune, "Cats Down Under The Stars," followed. The band collectively dropped into the pocket, and masterfully built this tune into an ambient jam followed by a bluesy, tension and release heater. It was perhaps the highlight of the evening. Another electrifying transition ensued into "Feels Like a Stranger," before the band stopped for air.
The spirited "Franklin's Tower" was up next. Benevento elevated this jam euphoniously. "Throwing Stones" was subsequent, complete with more on point vocals from Metzger. A deep jam followed, and ascended triumphantly back into the original song, with more guitar niceties from Hamilton. The set wrapped up with the easy going "Days Between."
The band stepped off stage, only to return to boisterous applause. Russo thanked the crowd sincerely. They obliged the crowd with a pair of tunes, starting with The Cricket's "Not Fade Away." This song is symbolic of this incredible band who has not faded away after ten years. The band then took the crowd back to the 90's with Spacehog's "In the Meantime." This alt rock fueled conclusion ended this spectacular show with an indisputable bang.
Joe Russo's Almost Dead is back on tour next week with a three night stand at The Eastern in Atlanta, Ga. Head on over to their tour page for more details about these shows and the rest of the ledger.
Check out more photos from the show!
Set One: Scarlet Begonias1 > Six Days On The Road2 > Hell In A Bucket1, Black Peter1 >The Eleven1, I Know You Rider3
Set Two: Man Smart, Women Smarter4 > Cats Down Under The Stars5 > Feels Like a Stranger1, Franklin’s Tower1, Throwing Stones1, Days Between1
Encore: Not Fade Away6, In The Meantime7
1. Grateful Dead
2. Dave Dudley, FTP
4. King Radio cover
5. Jerry Garcia
6. The Crickets