A Concert Review
by Caleb Hiliadis
In an instant the house lights flicked on, all sound from the stage cut out and fire alarms began to ring. The crowd swiftly and courteously moved out the front doors onto the sidewalk. Two fire trucks immediately pulled up resolving the fiasco in under half an hour.
“We may have to evacuate the building,” Weir proclaimed, “but I’m not leaving.”
It’s not every Sunday evening that a founding member of the Grateful Dead steps out from behind a lingering 40-year-old psychedelic fog to become intimate with fans. It’s also not every day that Colonial patrons are removed from the building due to pot smoke.
As with many musicians of his era, age has admittedly affected Weir’s voice and guitar work . The audience, however, did not seem to mind. Ticketholders waited well over 8 months for a rare chance to spend an evening with Weir and his guitar due to rescheduling of the entire tour. It was speculated that the tour may not happen at all but as any Deadhead knows, the music never stops.
Aside from the shows obvious flaws, Weir’s set started off smoothly. Working the crowd into the mood with a down-tempo rendition of “The Music Never Stopped”, Weir glimmered on stage with controlled mysticism that captured the attention of the audience for eight minutes.
Weir assumed the role of rhythm guitarist for the Grateful Dead and this was made obvious as he sat barefoot alone on stage. Progressions in “Dark Star” stood out as weak and even some of the simpler rhythmic songs seemed choppy.
Credit must be given to Bobby though. This guy really loves music. His song selection for this show was seamless, bringing the listener on a nostalgic adventure with Uncle Bob. The setlist ranges from Dylan to Lennon and of course the Dead, even dipping into the obscure with the early 60′s track “Artificial Flower“.
His cover of “Dear Prudence” really struck a chord with patrons. Weir hits it spot on, even with the high register notes. Here’s a clip:
The concert, even with its bumps along the way, marks a milestone for cultural Pittsfield as a sought after venue for any artist. Concern, however, lies not only in the pot-related evacuation of the Colonial, but the mischief outside.
The parking lot before the show was typical of the post-Dead jam scene. Dedicated fans from Chicago to Pittsfield mingled waiting for the doors to open. Vendors broke out their folding tables selling posters, Grateful Dead memorabilia, gems, jewelry and hand-crafted glass. One element, however, was out of place. The ballooning (no pun intended) demand and tolerance of nitrous oxide as an acceptable recreational drug.
Nitrous has plagued the Northeast for years now and shows no signs of slowing down. Those peddling nitrous in the Colonial parking lot were not there for the music. They were present to turn a profit and that is all.
In the end, what it really comes down to is that Bob Weir can still put on a hell of a performance. Whether it’s touring with Furthur or Ratdog or just sitting down with his guitar in a theatre of his most deadicated fans.