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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Furthur Plays Both Too Much And Too Little At The Greek Theatre - 10/5

Graham Clark |
October 6, 2012 | 3:28 p.m. PDT

Staff Contributor

Phil Lesh of Furthur at the Greek Theater, 10/5/12 (Graham Clark/Neon Tommy)
Phil Lesh of Furthur at the Greek Theater, 10/5/12 (Graham Clark/Neon Tommy)
“I had a little bit of MDMA to go with my MBA,” whispered the middle-aged man, starch-white collared t-shirt tucked as snugly into his jeans, secure as his retirement savings. 

He struck a power stance, spreading his legs far apart for maximum stability, and proceeded to play air guitar for the better part of 25 minutes.

That is to say, there were no surprises at Furthur’s show on Friday except those you could expect. Guitars were strummed, shredded and slid for five full hours, save only for an intermission and Phil Lesh’s prerequisite spiel on organ donation. Turn to someone you love, now, and say they can have your liver.

Dynamics in the set arose from sheer force of will, but also musicians’ stylistic differences. Grateful Dead carryover Bob Wier performed with a dignified, analog shuffling befitting his cannonized stature.

Slapping that together with John Kadlecik’s digitally-rendered, pedalboard-sheened sonic pyrotechnics is not necessarily a sure thing. It’s like mixing chocolate and peanut butter, if the chocolate’s been on the road since 1960 and the peanut butter was engineered by Steve Vai with a silicon transistor.

It’s a gestalt that’s necessary: what makes the show worth watching is that it still can suck. The special guests could fall flat, or Lesh’s balsa-wood thin frame could dissipate into a zephyr of dust. These are real possibilities. Behind the eponymous “Steal Your Face” logo remain real, fallible humans playing music.

Friday night’s show fired more-or-less on all cylinders. The licks were long and numerous, resulting in knee-bobbing, arm waggling and all other varieties of kinesthetic noodling.

NBA hall of famer and Deadhead hometown hero Bill Walton even turned up to laugh and otherwise allow fans to bask in his nigh-seven-foot-tall glory.

It’s no hollow hoax that fans will observe these performances night after night to catch differences in song styles, savoring what’s left of the Dead and taking steps towards building a future filled with big live music. Babies appear to maintain their Woodstock-ascribed status as one of the hottest hippy accessories, going well with everything from glowsticks, to dreads, printed skirts and tremendous beer-bellies

Wrapping this up with anything but a hokey cliché would be willfully obtuse, so here’s a whole slew: it’s not just a long, strange trip anymore. This musical entity has come to embody the audacity of working together with hope, and the timeless magnetic power of a main stage rock group. That comes with its ups and downs, but the only way to know what it’s like is to get out and push.

There ought to be a song about that.


1. "Truckin'" 

2. "Smokestack Lightning" 

3. "Brown-Eyed Women" 

4. "Money For Gasoline" 

5. "Any Road (George Harrison cover)"

6. "Peggy-O" 

7. "Mission in the Rain" 

8. "I Shall Be Released" 

9. "Althea" 


10. "China Cat Sunflower" 

11. "I Know You Rider" 

12. "Cassidy" 

13. "Passenger" 

14. "The Mountain Song" 

15. "Scarlet Begonias" 

16. "Fire on the Mountain" 

17. "Standing on the Moon" 

18. "Shakedown Street" 

19. "Gloria" 


20. "Revolution (Beatles cover)"

Furthur will perform another show at the Greek Theater Oct. 6.

Reach Staff Contributor Graham Clark here. Follow him on Twitter here.



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