Joe Russo’s Almost Dead returned to Brooklyn Bowl last week for their third annual Fall Ball. All six shows — Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights last week and again this week — sold out quickly after they were announced. It was clear at this past Friday's (10/6) show how great a job this five-man lineup does with the Grateful Dead's material. Guitarists Tom Hamilton and Scott Metzger trade licks and share most of the vocals, doing an impressive job in both domains. Hamilton opened the evening with “Shelter from the Storm,” a favorite of the latter-day Jerry Garcia Band. Midway through the second set, bassist Dave Dreiwitz stepped out on vocals with another Dylan cover, “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues,” but it was otherwise pretty much all Dead, with radio favorites such as “Casey Jones” and “Touch of Grey” alongside deeper cuts including “The Eleven” and “Alligator.”

In addition to performing high-energy interpretations that remain faithful to the originals without succumbing to all-out tribute, JRAD honors many of the traditions that helped establish the Grateful Dead as a unique live act. Fans of the Dead’s penchant for segues will find little down time between songs. Once on stage, JRAD rarely stops playing as Russo pushes his bandmates into teases of tunes to come and codas that remain unfulfilled before heading full-tilt into a new song. JRAD also saves the stretched-out, spacy jams for the second set and isn’t afraid to revisit songs previously played. On this particular night, a lengthy “Cumberland Blues” led into “He’s Gone” to close the first set, only for the band to return and open the second set with a “Cumberland” reprise.

Marco Benevento, Russo’s childhood friend and other half of the occasional Benevento-Russo Duo, adds an electric smile to his keyboard flourishes. Everyone in JRAD plays multiple gigs, making timing an important element in terms of getting the band together for extended runs. After their second trio of shows at Brooklyn Bowl, JRAD will head to the West Coast for November appearances in Los Angeles and Oakland. A three-night run at Port Chester’s Capitol Theater has also been announced for January. Catch them if you can.

Pictures of Friday's show are in the gallery above. Setlist below.


Joe Russo's Almost Dead at Brooklyn Bowl - 10/6/17
First Set: Shelter from the Storm, Jam, Good Lovin’, Touch of Grey, Fire on the Mountain, Cassidy, Cumberland Blues, He’s Gone

Second Set: Cumberland Blues, Alligator, Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues, Casey Jones, King Solomon’s Marbles, The Eleven, Jam, Easy Wind

Encore: The Promised Land


photos by Lou Montesano

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