, attached to 2009-08-07

Review by Mikesgroover

Mikesgroover It had been 10 years since my last visit to the Gorge, and this run gave me a chance to see in person the band's progression since the high-energy Hampton return in March. Remembering the wind-affected sound on the lawn in 1999, we headed to the floor where we found a nice spot towards the back on Page's side. The sound quality was perfect throughout the show. Though I think Trey has been too high in the mix on most of the summer tour tapes I've heard, it wasn't as noticeable in person. The crowd was fantastic, laid-back, yet attentive.

The band opted to open with Down with Disease, which had been played the previous show at Shoreline. It was just what I needed to hear though, an opportunity to cast aside my cares for the next couple of days and just dance to a song I'd first heard 15 year earlier. It was clear from the first jam that the band was clicking, but Disease never wandered far from the theme and while pleasing to the ear, was just a high-energy warm up for the band and audience. Ocelot, the first of three songs from "Joy" to make an appearance, is comfortable and bluesy, but not thrilling to these ears, though Mike got a chance to take the lead for the first time of the night. Pebbles and Marbles made its first appearance since the band's return slid straight into the now overplayed Possum.

I honestly wasn't expecting to ever hear Destiny in person, so my joyful reaction to hearing the opening notes helped me conveniently overlook the fact that the execution was a little forced and the band was a bit out of sync. Interesting to see how 95 percent of the crowd appeared completely unfamiliar with the tune, but given it was only the third performance in 18 years, it's understandable that younger fans don't seem to know it.

A strong Stash allowed the band to get into darker, more psychedelic jamming for the first time in the set but it was Sneakin' Sally through the Alley that was the highlight of the set. At about the five minute mark they went into a full-on, out-there vocal jam before getting back into a high-energy jamming. At around the 11 minute mark, the band headed for spacier territory and a beautiful, melodic theme eventually emerged. This version was eons better than the song's last appearance at Camden in 2004 and a highlight of 2009 summer tour. They probably could have ended the set there and I would have been happy, but Trey busted into Cavern to wrap the set up on more rocking ground.

Moma Dance is an enjoyable second set opener, but the 2009 versions have been more truncated and less jammy. I find that a little disappointing in that Moma Dance grew out of the great funk sound of 1997. It's not meant to be a eight-minute tune, in my opinion. The third-ever version of Light contains an excellent outro jam that flows perfectly into Taste, which soars as usual. A joyful Fluffhead (a guarantee to bring the house down any time it's played these days) had a few unique instrumental textures and flourishes to make it distinctive. Joy, which while heartfelt, is a little on the sappy side for my taste and might be more appropriate as a first set song.

To close they show, they pulled out three heavy hitters in a row. The Gin doesn't disappoint, with multiple exciting themes including a funky middle section dominated by Mike and a Trey-led flourish in the final minutes that's equally enjoyable. Harry Hood has become a bit too common for my taste, and this version doesn't break any new ground but still leaves you with a smile on your face.

A Slave encore is rare enough that it made the night feel special, like the band didn't want to stop playing. A solid version. Overall, an excellent show, with a nice blend of well-played old favorites, rarities and new songs. Light in particular has great potential and the Sally, Light>Taste and Gin are must hears.


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