Friday, August 6, 2021

Bob Weir and Wolf Brothers with the Wolf Pack at the Greek Theater in Berkeley, CA on July 24, 2021

Going back to the Greek in Berkeley after so many years (actually decades) was a remarkable treat. The flashback floodgate was wide open from the first moment on the sidewalk out front waiting for the doors to open. Running into old friends, as well as making new ones, brought back one particular memory from the 80s of being “miracled” by some super cool passerby without even asking to a very sold-out Dead show at that exact same place on the sidewalk. Then there was that time when asked by UCB campus police what was in the brownies I was selling on the sidewalk. They still declined purchasing any even after telling them only chocolate, sugar, and love. 

Securing the Perfect Spot Before the Show

Upon entry into the venue a few minutes earlier than the rest of the crowd, I was able to secure my favorite spot inside on the first big cement step up beyond the pit dead center - the pinnacle of light and sound for the Greek - one of the most beautiful, renown, and acoustically perfect outdoor venues anywhere. From that epicentre, one can see and hear everything perfectly, while enjoying the vantage point of also being elevated a few feet above the folks in the pit. And the sounds and lights were both perfectly amazing that night.

The Music Never Stopped

The band, featuring Bob Weir, Don Was, and Jay Lane with Jeff Chimenti, Greg Leis & the Wolfpack took the stage to a warm hometown welcome from a nicely mixed crowd of old-time bay area hippies and young enthusiastic deadheads. After shooting photos for the allotted 20 minutes at the beginning of the show from the soundboard, I reclaimed my place on the step and settled in for the rest of the first set, which opened with two verses of Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away.” This well received opener got the crowd bopping to Bob as his hand gestures told us how big his love is - probably more love than what was in the brownies back in the day.

Next was a sweet rendition of “Cassidy.” This is where the Wolf Pack’s horns and strings first hit me as h
aving a place in the band to handle a lot of the improvisational bits with a definitive psychedelic edge. 

Then came Wolf Bros debut of a Rat Dog song (last played by Weir on 7/11/14) called “She Says.” After that was a wonderfully tempoed “Friend of the Devil” followed by an intense “Black Throated Wind.” This was followed by a whimsical and spirited “Tennessee Jed.” Next was a show highlight when Bob called out his special guest, the iconic 89 years young Rambin Jack Elliot, to sing and play acoustic guitar for a bouncy classic country cover tune called “Mule Skinner Blues” which had Jack yodeling to the audience’s delight. Jack is such a cool a sweet man and we saw this onstage as he hugged and shook hands with everyone in the band as he walked off stage. The set ended with one of my favorites Weir’s “Weather Report Suite” into “Let it Grow.” Wow! What a set!  

Getting Lost at the Greek

After an ingratiating set break to walk around and reminisce, the second set opened with a great version of Hank William’s “You Win Again,” followed by a melodic and danceable version of “Scarlet Begonias.” An unbridled spacey jam followed “Playin’ in the Band” that went into “Uncle John’s Band” and then back into “Playin” with the reprise. It was somewhere in there I found my mind drifting off with the music into places uncharted, reminding me of similar moments in that same spot many times, many days before. “Estimated Prophet” reminded us all where we were and “The Other One” was another trip to the edge after being brought back to earth by “Standing on the Moon.” “One More Saturday Night” reminded us just what day it was, in case we forgot, after being told many times that night thru the lyrics of chosen songs. People danced the set to its end and the ovation was loud as we all knew we experienced something magical that night. The Greek had missed us, and we missed the Greek. “Ripple” was an appropriate encore, followed by verse three of “Not Fade Away” to close out the show with the famous rhythmic clapping and chanting of the crowd we all know so well. 

Article and photos by Dave Stotts of Dave Stotts Photography


Unknown said...

Awesome job Dave!

Unknown said...

Beautiful. I could feel the energy! MMS does it agaun! ūüíúūüé∂

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