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Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir & Phil Lesh played Radio City with Trey Anastasio (review, videos, setlist)

Founding Grateful Dead members Bob Weir and Phil Lesh began their first-ever duo tour with two shows at NYC’s Radio City Music Hall: Friday (3/2) and Saturday (3/3). They said they’d be playing both acoustic and electric, which had me thinking they would do an entire acoustic set followed by an entire electric set like the Dead did when they played Radio City in 1980, but instead, both sets had a mix of both. The second set on the second night also had a pretty big surprise: Phish’s Trey Anastasio joined Bobby & Phil (and drummer Wally Ingram) for the whole set.

The first set on night two was kind of a slow start to the evening, but it had its moments. They started off strong with “New Speedway Boogie” (with Wally Ingram), and they ended the set with “Touch of Grey” which had the whole crowd singing (and it was fun, even if it could’ve used a drummer that wasn’t playing with brushes… and maybe keys and a second guitar as well). But things really picked up during the second set with Trey. Having another guitarist on stage really filled out the sound, and it allowed them to get a lot more improvisational than they were during the first set. The setlist was also loaded, much more so than any of the other three sets they played this weekend. It was one major Dead fave after the next, all from their classic late ’60s / early ’70s period: “Playing in the Band,” “The Wheel,” “Dark Star,” “Jack Straw,” “Eyes of the World” with a reprise of “Dark Star” (!), “St. Stephen,” “Viola Lee Blues” — all in a row, all with Bobby, Phil, Trey and Wally really locked in with each other. After breaking from that era for set closer “Standing on the Moon,” they came back on stage for an encore of “Ripple” and had the whole place singing.

It was one of the best recent Dead-related shows I’ve seen, and it’s a bummer that they’re only doing this for six shows (unless they add more — fingers crossed). Phil’s shows with the Terrapin Family Band and Phil Lesh & Friends are great, but this show had more of a focus on his singing than the last couple times I saw him, which was a real treat for Phil fans. And of course it’s even better to hear him harmonize with Bobby than with the non-Grateful Dead members he often plays with. It’s obviously more stripped down than what Bobby is doing with Dead & Co (and Wally Ingram is no Rhythm Devils), so this setup could probably never be as widely crowd-pleasing as that one. But the plus side? No John Mayer and no stadiums!

The Bobby & Phil shows continue in Boston on March 7 & 8 and Chicago on March 10 & 11. After that, Dead & Co have a massive tour, including two nights at NYC’s Citi Field in June (tickets) and two headlining slots at Lockn’ Fest. Phil is doing a three-night run at the Capitol Theatre in March, including one show with Steve Winwood (tickets).

Watch some videos of Bobby, Phil, and Trey at Radio City and see the full night two setlist, below.

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Bobby & Phil at Radio City – 3/3/18 Setlist
Set 1:
New Speedway Boogie
West L.A. Fadeaway
Lazy River Road
Deep Elem Blues
Row Jimmy
Cassidy >
Touch of Grey > Cassidy reprise

Set 2:
Playing in the Band
The Wheel
Dark Star
Jack Straw
Eyes of the World > Dark Star reprise
St. Stephen
Viola Lee Blues
Standing on the Moon > Viola Lee Blues reprise

Encore:
Ripple

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