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Fifteen Debuts For Joe Russos Almost Dead In Brooklyn

Last night at Brooklyn Bowl, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead continued to expand their repertoire by
playing a show consisting completely of songs they’d never played before during the
first of two Freaks Ball XV performances. However, the uninformed would’ve never
it was the quintet’s first time tackling the material since they brought bold
and an unbelievable level of tightness to each tune they played at the Williamsburg
venue as part of a celebration of the community that has formed around the NYC Freaks
mailing list.

[Photo by Jeremy Gordon]

Friday night’s show was Joe Russo Almost Dead’s 13th-ever performance including a
show New Year’s Run featuring Phil Lesh on bass at The Capitol Theatre. The band’s
regular bassist, Dave Dreiwitz, was back in the fold and played a major role in
the intensity high throughout the evening. JRAD came out of the gates with a
scorching “Alabama Getaway” and then embarked on a version of the uber-rare “Alice D.
Millionaire.” “ADM” was only played by the Grateful Dead a handful of times in 1966
and a studio version wasn’t released by the group until The Golden Road box
set came out in 2001. In typical Almost Dead fashion, the five-some blew out of the
“ADM” chord progression into a feisty jam that somehow they somehow worked into
“Greatest Story Ever Told.” This would be the first of many impressive segues – one
of the hallmarks of Joe Russo’s Almost Dead. Speaking of which, the band moved the
slow and plodding “Black Peter” into a psychedelic jam that had many asking the
question – “Is this still Black Peter!?” before “Lost Sailor” emerged out of the
darkness. “Lost Sailor” was followed by its usual partner, “Saint Of Circumstance,”
and then a short and to-the-point “Big Railroad Blues” closed out the set.

Guitarist Scott Metzger was not only on fire all night instrumentally, but he showed
off the best Bob Weir vocals this side of the Bay Area. One such example was on the
“Feel Like A Stranger” second set opener, where he had just the right amount of growl
in his singing. “Stagger Lee” was another song JRAD used as an improvisational
platform, laying the groundwork for an awe-inspiring transition into a singalong take
on “Aiko Aiko.” Metzger and Tom Hamilton then beautifully dueled it out on
“Mississippi Half-Step,” before a wild transition into “Sugar Magnolia.” The crowd
almost became unhinged by the time the “Sunshine Daydream” reprise was nailed. Russo
and his ensemble brought the show to a close with “Mission In The Rain” and a “They
Love Each Other” encore.

Set One: Alabama Getaway, Alice D. Millionaire -> Greatest Story Ever Told, Black
-> Lost Sailor > Saint Of Circumstance, Big Railroad Blues

Set Two: Feel Like A Stranger, Stagger Lee -> Aiko Aiko, Mississippi Half-Step ->
Magnolia > Sunshine Daydream, Mission In The Rain

Encore: They Love Each Other

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