Bob Weir, for 35 years the rhythm guitar player for the Grateful Dead, brought his latest band, The Wolf Brothers, to a sold-out Palace Theatre in St. Paul on Tuesday night. Weir is a touring machine, and whether its with Dead and Co., Ratdog or the Other Ones, at 71 years old he shows no signs of slowing Down.
The Wolf Brothers are a trio with a great pedigree. Weir is accompanied by former Primus & Ratdog drummer Jay Lane and Don Was, music producer, Dinosaur walker and bass player extraordinaire. While on paper this is a spartan ensemble, the sound that filled the Palace was voluminous. The room filled with both matured (old) Deadheads like myself and tie dyed 20 somethings, all anticipating a fascinating evening.
Obviously still in Mardi Gras mode, Bob opened up with a later era Dead staple “Iko Iko”. Both funky and jazzy at the same time, the song had the sold-out crowd dancing and singing with all they had. After slowing it down a bit with solo ballad “Lay My Lilly Down” Weir gave a shout out to St. Paul with the Jonny Cash cover and mid 70’s Dead essential “Big River”. Next up was the audience favorite of the first set, Bob Dylan’s “When I Paint My Masterpiece”. After a couple of Ratdog tunes, the guys broke into my personal highlight of the show, the epic “Lost Sailor > Saint Of Circumstance” I can’t lie, I heard some groans from my balcony vantage point, this sequence has always been polarizing among Deadheads.
After a short break, the guys came back and fired into a very funky Bobby And The Midnights song “Bombs Away”. Don Was then went ballistic with a smoking bass heavy version of “The Music Never Stopped” And the music didn’t stop, as the guys went on a 7 song, hour long tear that was cover heavy. With “Shakey Ground” from the Temptations to Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away” sandwiched between preeminent Grateful Dead tunes “He’s Gone” and “Wharf Rat”, the boys constructed a satisfying jamtastic hoagie that satisfied everyone.
Weir constantly changed the arraignments of old classics, and with the help of Was and Lane made them fresh again. After 54 years of touring, Bobby shows no signs of slowing down.
Set 1: Iko Iko – Lay My Lily Down – Big River – When I Paint My Masterpiece – Even So – October Queen – Lost Sailor > Saint Of Circumstance
Set 2: Bombs Away – The Music Never Stopped > Shakey Ground > Easy Answers > The Music Never Stopped Reprise – He’s Gone > All Along The Watchtower > Wharf Rat > Not Fade Away
Encore: It’s All Over Now Baby Blue