Phil Lesh, by the numbers: Tallying up the Grateful Dead bassist’s Brooklyn Bowl run

LAS VEGAS, NV - February 27, 2016: ***HOUSE COVERAGE*** Phil Lesh & Friends at Brooklyn Bowl in Las vegas, NV on February 27, 2016. Credit: Erik Kabik Photography/ MediaPunch
Erik Kabik

Phil Lesh & Friends at Brooklyn Bowl: Night 1

5 Sets performed—two apiece Friday and Saturday nights by Lesh’s primary touring outfit, Phil & Friends, and another Sunday afternoon from Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band.

7 Lesh’s musical Friends at the show I caught on Friday: lead guitarists John Kadlecik and Stanley Jordan, rhythm guitarist Grahame Lesh (Phil’s son), organist Jason Crosby, violinist Boyd Tinsley (of Dave Matthews Band fame), drummer John Molo and percussionist Alex Koford.

Phil Lesh & Friends at Brooklyn Bowl: Night 2

23 Grateful Dead originals played during the weekend (none repeated, naturally), from psychedelic ’60s warhorses like “That’s It for the Other One,” “St. Stephen” and “Dark Star” to latter-day favorites like “Shakedown Street,” “Althea” and “Touch of Grey.” At my show, opener “Mason’s Children” made for a nice surprise, building from a spacey intro jam into a driving fist-pumper, then seguing niftily into a fun “Fire on the Mountain,” featuring consecutive solos from Tinsley, Crosby and Kadlecik.

3 Covers showcasing jazzman Jordan on Night 1: The Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby,” Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and “Over the Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz. On all three, the guitarist demonstrated his spellbinding two-handed tapping technique—he produces notes by applying quick pressure on his fretboard, rather than strumming or plucking—and all three were met, deservedly, by rapturous applause from the crowd.

Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band at Brooklyn Bowl

75 Lesh’s age, until he turns 76 on March 15. In 1998, he underwent a liver transplant, and to this day he encourages audiences to sign up for organ donation with a nightly “donor rap” before encores. Lesh, who was also treated for bladder cancer in 2015, looked and sounded healthy Friday night.

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Spencer Patterson

Spencer Patterson is the Editor of Las Vegas Weekly, having previously served as Managing Editor, Arts & Entertainment Editor and ...

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