I attended Raleigh, Simpsonville, and Atlanta.........
Raleigh was all concrete & urban & heat, the big Tree of Life overlooking the venue (mentioned in Phil's rap) indicated only a hint of breeze, shakedown was heat and dogs and grill-smoke and bells and vibrant sweaty joy, cold beverages in abundance, and ya can't drink too much water in this 100+ weather, not a cloud in the sky; the odd little "lawn" is but a strip of grass on the outskirts and lots of seats to choose from within.
Alligator opener tore the lid off for sometime, to be sure, while Gloria ("low & inside!") remained rather languid even with the addition of train whistles (a recurring theme!). Slow-movin start, oppressive humidity, although I defy even the non-singinest head to not pipe up during a Ramble On Rose, Bucket was ragin, Row Jimmy got all tickly-reggae, but we did not need to be teased that a Hard Rain was gonna fall.
Halftime, if we're so fuckin hot & sweaty, what about the band? Quit yer gripin and send some love to Russo for god's sake!
2nd set a blurry ball of bliss, Viola Lee & Cryptical are what my dream sets are made of. Utterly smoking Morning Dew and raging Let it Grow with Mts. of the Moon in between (I had erroneously named it Dupree's, which foreshadowed the next night!). Unfortunately, During Bertha, the heat came down and I was grateful for the abundant seating. Been a long time since I ventured outta my little mountain town and the heat & humidity gave me the smackdown, so I just did the chair dance for most the night.
Simpsonville was the highlight. Wide-open lot all grass no dust, no trees neither really, 'cept a line in the back where little fucking biting bugs hang out waiting for hippies to sit down with guitars and smoke, so ya just gotta stand up and play and hell, at least there's shade; and I ended up jamming Eyes of the World three different times throughout the afternoon, and, well, shakedown had found the dirt & dust, but was still hoppin, all "getcher ice-cold beers! .... who's got an extra? ... naw man, that was my shoe .... *arf!* *arf!* ... got the headiest quesadillas (doses) on the lot! ... Delilah! *arf!* come here!..." and the venue so fine, so kind, kind staff, great sightline anywhere, tiered lawn all spacious and airy, stage like they're playin in a big tool-shed.
Flying solo this show, I find a goodly-sized space amongst the old-timers and newly-arrived just in time for the Music to never stop, straight on through the entire show, I was elevated, the sing-along Ramble On Rose, LLRain gradually bubbling to its final burst, the Candyman & Dupree's double whammy of boogie, Maggie's smokin new groove and Revolution finishing, and, dang, where does the time go? Lotsa tunes (took all of 1/2 time for me & dude to count it out! Distractions y'see) but seemed short.
No matter. 2nd set: Just look at the setlist, I cannot articulate the magic that occurred in those songs, the musicianship was truly stellar, innovative, imaginative, outright powerful (see Days Between), and then to end with Scarlet/Fire?! Are you fucking kidding me guys?! I'm beat, man! And, of course, they nail the hell outta that one with another incredible performance, leaving me in awe of Phil & Bobby's stamina!
The encore was Attics of My Life w/ Jeff on mellow organ & Russo mellow swishing. I won't even try to describe this.
I had St. Augustine as a tentative plan all along, but was grateful for a little mountain respite from the heat.
And then Atlanta , end of tour. Utter madhouse on the lot, in a good way, total vibe of celebration everywhere, the venue is packed, pavillion peeps on top of each other, and we lawn dwellers a dense an cozy lot, large venue, tons of fans, high high energy, and it cannot go without saying that Atlanta was a feast for the eyes of heterosexual men, mind-bogglingly omnipresent & I am so glad the sun finally went down - truly, it cannot be overstated, Not Fade Away indeed! and somewhere in there during the Speedway Boogie ya just might hear a snippet of "With a Little Help From My Friends".... or not, rocking Miracle and then:
Best of Everything: After the first verse, looking at his phone, kid says to buddy, "Just Like Tom Thumb Blues! It's by Bob Dylan!" "Killer!"
Love Mag. Mt. and really love Mission, and both sound better on the c.d., never saw Reuben performed by anybody before and it's always been a desire, so I was not disappointed. Deal? Tore it up!
Okay, look at that second set; WTF? Jill must have a sadistic streak in her to make Russo do Samson, Terrapin Flyer, and a buncha NFA in this heat! And a rippin China/Rider after everything before it? Just amazing! Maxwell's Silver Hammer is cool & all, but not the best placement in my opinion, not to mention it was lost on over half that young crowd anyway, but Birdsong was really weird, and Terrapin was really weird, from Birdsong on, everything got really, like, angular. Super cool, super fun. And then that encore was absolutely wonderful! "Love you! Love you!" from The End was perfect!
I love this scene, and I really love seeing so many young folks digging it - and I mean young, it reminds me of my earlier days and I am so excited for them (dude w/ the phone & pal were doing their first show and so into it!) And so many old-timers coming back home, that "where ya been these past few years" vibe.
Blissful sweetness! Now I gotta de-compress!