Phil Lesh Quintet | Capitol Theatre | 3/4/2024

Article Contributed by Howard Horder | Published on Wednesday, March 6, 2024

On November 10th, 1999, I attended my first ever Phil Lesh & Friends show at the New Haven Coliseum. The venue, affectionately known as 'the old barn,' was just off I-95 in lovely downtown New Haven, Connecticut. It also hosted my second Grateful Dead concert back in May 1978. The New Haven Coliseum did not age well and it was gone shortly after that show in 1999. A young lad, the 20-year-old Derek Trucks, was called in as an emergency fill-in guitarist, hired on the fly. It was improvisation at its best, proving that adversity is the mother of invention. Both bands, Phil Lesh & Friends as the opener and Bob Dylan & his band as the closer, played well. They then came together for the encore and I was hooked.

Phil Lesh Quintet | Capitol Theatre

Warren Haynes | Capitol Theatre

Jimmy Herring | Port Chester, NY

John Molo | Capitol Theatre

Rob Barraco | Port Chester, NY

When Phil Lesh, Warren Haynes, Jimmy Herring, John Molo, and Rob Barraco first came together as the Q in the Fall of 2000, the Beacon Theatre was buzzing with energy. Fans of Phil Lesh and the Grateful Dead were highly anticipative of this newest incarnation of Phil Lesh & Friends. Those first Q shows were impactful. The chemistry of the Q was apparent from their first time out on the road together. Phil has played with many different versions of his rotating friends, all great musicians, but the Q will always be my number one and is at the top of mind for many of Phil’s dedicated fans.

Phil Lesh Quintet at The Capitol Theatre

Getting ready to see Phil!

Phil Lesh | Capitol Theatre

On Monday night, more than 24 years after first seeing Phil Lesh & Friends, the Q played the first of two concerts at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY. The Cap is home away from home. It’s familiar, it’s comfortable, we know many of our friends will be there, and Phil Lesh brought four of his best friends. The Q has a comfort level playing with each other. The on-stage visual cues may not be apparent to everyone; however, if you know what to look for, the tilt of an eyebrow or the start of a guitar solo can be revealing. Warren Haynes and Jimmy Herring played their hearts out, and you could see and feel the love on stage. The Q melded quickly, and by the second song, they were in sync, playing as if their last gig was just yesterday.

Phil Lesh | Capitol Theatre

Phil counts. Watching him, it's clear he keeps track of every beat. He smiles broadly when everything is just perfect. Phil smiled a lot on Monday night. He was having a great time. It’s heartwarming to be among friends and family, witnessing the love on stage and mirrored expressions among the audience. The setlists were worked out and posted before the show started. I could read the setlist with my telephoto lens taped to the floor and the stage equipment. I took a few shots and decided not to read it. "Cosmic Charlie" ended the 2nd set. Rob, Warren, and Phil blended their vocals, the acapella harmonies to close the song resonated throughout the theatre.

Jimmy Herring | Capitol Theatre

John Molo & Warren Hayes | Port Chester, NY

Rob Barraco | Capitol Theatre

From my vantage point in the lower balcony, I could see the interaction between the band members preparing for the encore. There were hugs and arms waving, animated motions; the band was working out the beat, the count, the timing, and the solos for the encore. Phil and Jill Lesh were on the side, it looked like a moment in time, everyone was happy to be there and it all came together, very poignant, very touching. Phil got a big kiss and a hug from Jill, the crew got everything ready and the encore, "In The Midnight Hour," was played well.

Phil Lesh | Port Chester, NY

This was the first time I hadn't seen Phil give his ‘become an organ donor’ speech. After the encore, Phil wished everyone a hearty good night, the show was over. Phil Lesh and Friends, The Q plays again tonight with what could be their final performance.

Capitol Theatre | Port Chester, NY

Great night with the Phil Lesh Quintet!

Phil Lesh & Friends return to the Cap on March 13, 15, and 16. Phil celebrates his 84th birthday on March 15. If you have tickets, enjoy and have fun. I wish I could be there. This is a special run. If you don’t have tickets and you’re not close-by, tune into the stream on These shows are special. They should not be missed. Love for Phil.