The phenomenon of Bowlive continued Wednesday night with another jam-packed performance of awesome covers, surprise guests, feel-good funk, and lots of love.
The night kicked off with a trio of songs from the trio themselves. Eric Krasno, Alan Evans, and Neal Evans always begin each Bowlive performance by giving the crowd a taste of pure, unadulterated Soulive, the 16-year-old funky jazz band that has become an institution within the jam scene. On this night, they started with “Aladdin” before diving in to a pair of Beatles songs in the form of “Eleanor Rigby” > “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).”
After the initial three songs, Adam Deitch replaced Alan Evans on the drum kit. This sit-in would serve as a minimal version of Lettuce. On the next song, the Shady Horns joined and five members of the Boston funk band were on stage. They let us hear some of the incredible music Lettuce has produced.
“The Dump,” “Break Out,” and the groovy “Relax” served as a mini-Lettuce set within the show. It was great to hear these tracks performed with this lineup, as it provided a stripped-down element that really let each player have space on the track. Adam Deitch’s drumming is nothing short of impeccable. He wails on the kit with experimentation, giving off the vibe that he doesn’t even know what’s coming next. However, his timing is so precise that the improv factor never compromises the music.
Al returned to the kit and Chris Robinson joined the stage, wasting no time in busting out “Remedy,” a favorite by The Black Crowes. Whereas night one was focused mostly on Dead tunes and R&B covers, night two was a little more varied. Willie Brown’s “Ragged & Dirty,” Traffic’s “Who Knows What Tomorrow May Bring,” and The Impressions “Check Out Your Mind” made up the meat of Robinson’s sit-in, demonstrating his versatility as he delivered incredible vocal performances on classic blues, rock, and soul.
Robinson’s voice just doesn’t seem to age. In fact, it may even get better with time, like a fabled legend that sees elaboration with each telling. Each show’s energy transfers to the next, and at this point you aren’t just seeing the ex-singer of The Black Crowes, but a man who has toured alongside The Dead, played with Phil & Friends, earned the respect of blues, rock, soul, and jam critics, and proven himself time and time again over a fruitful 30+ year career.
The set ended with “Brown Eyed Women,” the classic Hunter/Garcia song that everyone loves. While this night didn’t have as many Dead tunes as Tuesday night, it was great to hear a little GD thrown in the mix on a really soulful evening.
The encore really spiced things up with “Hard To Handle.” Not that the rest of the show was lacking in the ‘spice’ department, but you could tell a lot of The Black Crowes fans were dying to hear that one. (And maybe a few of the Deadheads too). With Adam Deitch on the drums, George Porter Jr. on the bass, Al Evans on guitar, and Shady Horns in full effect, it was an absolutely monstrous version of the Otis Redding song the Crowes made a hit in the ’90s.
The Bowlive VI finally will take place tomorrow evening with Marco Benevento as the special guest.