Former Grateful Dead pianist Tom Constanten along with Bob Bralove (Keyboard/Synthesizer), Steve Kimock (guitar), George Porter Jr. (bass), Wally Ingram (drums), Scott Page (saxophone), and Papa Mali (guitar) were all back in action on Saturday for the second night of the “Infrared Roses” Valentine’s Day weekend run at the Wisdome.LA. in downtown Los Angeles.
Following night one of “Dead in the Dome” on Friday, the Grateful Dead-inspired all-star tribute at the one-of-a-kind venue kept rocking with more artwork, virtual-reality experiences with 360° projections, and of course, plenty of music.
The first set of the night began with a “Bird Song” tease that eventually settled into a grooving “Sugaree”. The long intro came to an end with George Porter Jr. on the vocals. The song gained steam with a rock ’n roll tempo similar to that of Chuck Berry. Papa Mali’s solo on the electric guitar eased the band into “Big Railroad Blues”, where he also provided the vocals to the blues song as Page joined in for an energetic performance on the saxophone. Kimock also jettisoned in with a steady uptempo solo on his hollow-body guitar.
Visuals of palm trees danced about above the stage as the band started right into “Bertha”. The early-Dead favorite was played a bit slower than it was on night one, and even featured a surf-rock, Southern California vibe to it. The song felt joyful with ritzy saxophone additions, as Porter joined Mali on the vocals for each chorus. With a clean break, the group paused as Wally Ingram led the band with chimes and shakers into a breathy and balanced “Eyes of the World”. The audience was transported to another time and space reminiscent of Dead & Company’s recent Playing in the Sand shows, as the yacht rock vibes continued into the closing song of set one with “Deal”, sung by Papa Mali and featured Porter on the chorus.
Set two really focused on improvisational communication among the band as they presented “Infrared Roses” with extended jams in the key of “Drums” and “Space”. Movement one of the jam began with an invocation via the soundings of a drum circle. The half-moon shaped venue became an echo chamber with the notion of daybreak on the horizon. Tom Constanten on the keys pulled through as Porter peddled deep into the psychedelic forest by sliding notes up the neck of his bass. The band stood at attention for movement two, as Kimock softly strung his guitar with the cosmos glowing above. Movement three of “Infrared Roses” screeched in with wailing guitar, sax accents, jazzy drums, and taps on the cymbals. The jam gathered in volume with funk bass and another “Bird Song” tease. It sounded as if the band was going to break improv form and go straight into a full “Bird Song” as Mali and Kimock bounced back and forth between guitar leads.
The band paused for a serenade from Bralove on the keys as Constanten played lower bass notes on his piano. The keys continued to build up as Page joined in with a sideways approach to the collective sound.
Set three was similar to an encore set beginning with a count-in to “New Speedway Boogie”. Papa Mali was on vocals, and all the crowd was up on their feet dancing and shaking their bones. The band was really locked into a groove as they teased “The Other One”. From here, Kimock led the group into “Black Muddy River”. Porter sung the vocals for this blues song with Mali joining in for the chorus. Just as “Black Muddy River” was powerful and passionate, the second night of Dead in the Dome 3.0 “Infrared Roses” echoed as ceremonially cerebral, leaving a thumbprint of deep psychedelia on the listener’s soul.
Setlist: Infrared Roses | Wisdome L.A. | Los Angeles, CA | 2/15/20
Set One: Sugaree > Big Railroad Blues, Bertha, Eyes of the World > Deal
Set Two: Infrared Roses Set
Set Three: New Speedway Boogie > Black Muddy River
– “Bird Song” tease during “Sugaree”
– “The Other One” tease during “New Speedway Boogie”