After a Thursday night barn-burner in Bethlehem, PA, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead continued its weekend run just a short hop down I-476 on Friday at Philapdelphia’s Metropolitan Opera House, aka The Met Philly.

Just as their predecessors did before them, JRAD has a uniquely dedicated and ravenous following of Deadheads that make each show feel warm and welcoming—like a homegrown circus. With each passing show, the web expands, the connections deepen, and ten years in, it’s easy to see why folks keep coming back.

Philadelphia is home to guitarist Tom Hamilton Jr. and has long been a hotbed of JRAD devotion. As such, this was one of the tougher tickets in recent memory, with aftermarket sales going for well above face value as fans clamored to get into the sold-out room. Those lucky enough to do so were rearing to go when Bruce Springsteen’s “Jungleland” came over the PA to announce the band’s arrival, with a seamless first set shortly to follow.

“Loose Lucy” opened the festivities as fans shook off the weight of the world to dance like their lives depended on it, as one and all sang, “Thank you for a real good time!” at the top of their lungs.

Joe Russo’s Almost Dead – “Loose Lucy” – 11/17/23

While it may feel like the world is going to “Hell In A Bucket”, at least we’re enjoying the ride, and so was eponymous drummer Joe Russo, who popped off his stool from when the band tore out of the gate, until he and his mates slowed it down very briefly for the first time at the set’s 30-minute mark.

A wandering ambient jam that felt reminiscent of the Duo days saw the ensemble explore a beautiful space as hard-dancing fans took a welcome respite to cool off before Scott Metzger took a second straight vocal with a fiery “Estimated Prophet”.

Marco Benevento made his presence felt with trademark smiles and swirls of his Hammond B3 organ before the rhythm section of Russo and bassist Dave Dreiwitz kicked it up a notch. The ensuing “Crazy Fingers” choogled along with intention before an explosive and cathartic release.

When you think JRAD is going left, you can be sure they’re going right, and just as it seemed “Uncle John’s Band” was next on the docket, “Ramble On Rose”, short and sweet, came out of nowhere to close the set emphatically. “The grass ain’t greener and the wine ain’t sweeter,” indeed! Worthy of note, the City Of Brotherly Love had nothing nice to say when the “just like New York city” lyric arrived.

The printed setlist called for the second set to kick off with “Sing Your Blues Away”, but Metzger would have to wait as the band audibled a jam that wound its way to an absolutely savage “The Other One”, underscoring why Sir Joe Russo’s name is the one on the marquee. The band explored all manner of peaks and valleys dotted with violent sound and pin-drop silence in this 20+ minute journey before returning to plan as a Wolf!-like segue led to Metzger’s gorgeous vocal on “Sing Your Blues Away”.

“Reuben And Cherise” passed the lyrical baton back to T.R.H. Jr. as the masters of tempo again took the crowd on another wild ride. As the song wound down, the room started clapping the “Not Fade Away” beat and the band fell in lockstep, though in hindsight it’s tough to say who goaded whom. A raucous “Women Are Smarter” followed.

As is their way, JRAD took “St. Stephen” for an extended 25-minute ride, treating fans with the most exotic and hypnotizing grooves as the band sat under a deep red glow, with a twinkling of light from Marco’s baby grand and the swirling spotlights.

Fortune came a callin’ as “Stephen” represented another departure from the plan, as Dire Straits’ “Romeo & Juliet” was scratched in favor of a lady finger dipped in moonlight. “I Know You Rider” ended the 90-minute second set with a singalong that no one present will soon forget. After returning from a short encore break, Hamilton and company brought down the house while honoring The Beatles with “Dear Prudence”.

JRAD is always good for epic walkout music, and Friday fans had a chance to enjoy community and dance their way out on a high note with a double-dip of Led Zepellin‘s “Good Times, Bad Times” and “Ramble On”.

JRAD’s weekend set and 10th anniversary tour continues tonight at The Anthem in Washington D.C.. Nugs.net subscribers can stream the show live for free.

Check out full-show audio and click below to view a gallery of photos courtesy of photographer Andrew Blackstein.

Joe Russo’s Almost Dead – The Met Philly – Philadelphia, PA – 11/17/23

[Audio: Papaphunk]

Setlist: Joe Russo’s Almost Dead | The Met Philly | Philadelphia, PA | 11/17/23

Set One: Loose Lucy, Hell In A Bucket, Estimated Prophet, Crazy Fingers, Ramble On Rose

Set Two: The Other One, Sing Those Blues Away, Reubin And Cherise, Women Are Smarter (King Radio), St. Stephen > I Know You Rider

Encore: Dear Prudence (The Beatles)