"Truckin'"... "Dark Star" ... "St. Stephen"... whoa.
Deadheads couldn't have asked for anything more from Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart when they reunited as The Dead Monday night at the sold-out Bryce Jordan Center at Penn State.
The band's first gig in four years was a "Change Rocks" concert in support of the Obama campaign. The original Dead members were joined by Jeff Chimenti on keyboards and Allman Brothers Band/Gov't Mule guitarist Warren Haynes. The Allmans opened the show, along with blueswoman Susan Tedeschi.
According to the livedaily.com review, Weir, sporting broken ribs, "handled the lion's share of the vocal chores, but Lesh filled in nicely, particularly with one of his signature tunes, "Unbroken Chain," late in the set. Early on, however, Lesh demonstrated his chops were still in top form, weaving a complicated bass line into a jazzy tapestry for an extended ‘Help On the Way/Slipknot/Franklin's Tower' jam.
"Then the hits kept on coming, with The Dead doling out three aces: ‘Playing In The Band,' ‘Dark Star" and ‘St Stephen.' Although Haynes served in place of The Grateful Dead's late founder and lead guitar player, this complex trilogy proved he could handle the mountainous responsibility with just the right balance of Jerry Garcia's noodling triplets and his own tasty brand of axemanship."
Obama, who admitted to being a Dead fan in Rolling Stone earlier this year, appeared via video-tape message, saying in part:
"For 20 months, I've been traveling this country from town to town-even developing a ‘Touch of Grey' of my own. And on that journey, I've seen Americans who are hurting under the politics and policies of Washington. They need change, and I am running for President to bring about that change..." He closed with an Allmans reference: "...on November 5th, I hope to announce that we ‘Ain't Wasting Time No More.'"
Here's the whole set list:
Help on the Way
Playin' In The Band
Playin' In The Band (Reprise)
Touch of Grey
Not Fade Away