Fresh on the heels of Friday night’s rarity filled heater, Saturday night saw Joe Russo’s Almost Dead play the middle stanza of a three-night run on their homecourt at Port Chester’s famed Capitol Theatre. If night one was a metaphorical no-hitter, especially impressive since it was the band’s first show after more than three months, then Saturday’s effort saw a warmed up JRAD, raring to pitch a perfect game.
An introductory “Eyes of the World Jam” took a hard right into “Sitting On Top of The World,” as Friday’s theme of rarities continued with another rarely played gem (5th time ever; first since 3/17/2017). Night two’s shenanigans were firmly underfoot, and immediately noticeable was the different tone coming from Dave Dreiwitz’s bass. He was playing his most recent purchase for the first time, a Guild Starfire that he affectionately named Big and Brown, a shoutout to Phil Lesh’s Big Brown with the “and” thrown in as a nod to Ween, the brownest of Dave’s bands. His notes were big, crisp, and powerful, and he seemed to do less with more on his new toy. Perhaps tonight will see Dave play his Alembic on this three-night historical tour on the evolution of Phil Lesh’s bass equipment.
Marco Benevento had early and engaging solos on the baby grand, Scott Metzger hot on his heels with emphatic guitar work, so it was no surprise with his early prowess that the Metzger-led “Hell in a Bucket” emerged quickly in the set. Marco introduced the night two crowd to his B3 while Metzger continued his early onslaught, and Joe Russo reminded everyone with his energized play why his name is on the marquee. Tom Hamilton led the band through a gorgeous “Loser” before an unequivocally explosive “The Wheel”, in which Marco’s solo on the baby grand guided them through a “Hell in a Bucket Jam” and, just like that, they invented “Wheel in a Bucket”.
Joe Russo’s Almost Dead – “The Wheel” – 2/22/20
Tommy dangled another “Eyes of the World” tease before Metzger continued his first set assault on the crowd’s senses with another band first, this one a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again”. Metzger’s biggest everything of the weekend thus far, his vocals were strong and powerful to match his incendiary guitar play. A dark and dirty, or perhaps more appropriately Big and Brown, “Uncle John’s Band” closed the set led by Dave’s hard-charging bass lines.
Joe Russo’s Almost Dead – “Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again” – 2/22/20
A Prince playlist kept the crowd’s spirits up during intermission before the band picked up where they left off with an “Uncle John’s Band” tease that found its way into the set opening “Estimated Prophet”. Tommy’s guitar solo took him for a walk next to Joe’s drum kit, spurring everyone to buckle their seatbelts and get ready for the ride. As such, the jam in “Estimated” was a clinic in all things JRAD, before settling into a “Jack Straw” that the crowd had waited for since night one’s tease. Talk about a song that defines this band’s euphoric energy and crushes every time; this version is worth checking out for sure.
Thankful for a few minutes respite before a cover of The Band‘s “Life is A Carnival” (played for the second time ever and first since 12/31/2016), this version was dripping with funk and psychedelia. Marco’s B3 then led them into “Cats Under the Stars”, replete with a Joe Russo drum solo. Stage left was still aglow with Scott’s inspired play as Dave seemed to be bowling strikes with single notes.
Joe Russo’s Almost Dead – “Life is a Carnival” > “Cats Under the Stars” – 2/22/20
A version of “Cumberland Blues” that played homage to the blues in its name gave way to a Marco solo for the record books. As the band retreated, providing Marco with space on the baby grand, his electrifying play danced Joe Russo right out from behind his kit as he boogied his way over to Benevento, tambourine in hand, high-fiving as he cut the rug with his dazzling dance moves. Reminiscent of Marco and Joes’ duo days, it was a moment that will affectionately live forever in the annals of JRAD history. Russo’s drums cued the band back as Tommy teased both “Estimated” and “Cumberland” before a raging “Sugar Magnolia” closed the set.
Another JRAD first in the encore slot, because why not, Dreiwitz led the band through an emotional “Broken Arrow” with stirring vocals that gave a glimpse into the soul of an incredible human being. On a night when Dave’s star shined the brightest, it was fitting that he had a chance to be center stage and share this gift with his JRAD family. And it wasn’t lost on anyone in the room, the band included, how special this moment was as Joe thanked him publicly, “Literally the best person in the world…Dave Dreiwitz!” After a rousing and extended standing ovation celebrating Dreiwitz, another perfect show was in the books. To mix sports analogies, here’s to betting that this band bowls a turkey tonight on the back end of what has shaped up to be a special three-night run.
Joe Russo’s Almost Dead – “Broken Arrow” – 2/22/20
Listen to the full audio from the show below.
Joe Russo’s Almost Dead – 2/22/20 – [Full Show Audio]
[Audio: Joe Russo’s Almost Dead]
Joe Russo’s Almost Dead will return to The Capitol Theatre tonight (2/23) for the last of three nights at the venue. Visit the band’s website for tickets and more tour information. Scroll down for a gallery of images from the show courtesy of photographer Andrew Blackstein.
Setlist: Joe Russo’s Almost Dead | The Capitol Theatre | Port Chester, NY | 2/22/20
Set One: Sitting on Top of the World (Mississippi Sheiks cover), Hell in a Bucket, Loser, The Wheel, Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again (Bob Dylan cover), Uncle John’s Band
Set Two: Estimated Prophet > Jack Straw > Life Is a Carnival (The Band cover) > Cats Under the Stars, Cumberland Blues, Sugar Magnolia
Encore: Broken Arrow (Robbie Robertson cover)
 “Eyes of the World” tease
 JRAD debut