This show was simply incredible, and the Variety Playhouse is a sweet little venue.
My memory of the night has faded some, but here's how I remember it. The show opened with a mind-blowing "Truckin.'" I hadn't seen the boys for a while, so when a grey-bearded Bob Weir rolled around to singing, "Lately it occurs to me / what a long, strange trip it's been," I damn near cried. I've been watching this guy sing "Truckin'" for over twenty years, and it has indeed been a long, strange trip. "Take me to the River" was next - it was short, bouncy, and brisk. Then came "Loser," which was slow and brooding, with those sweet moments of pure bliss, "Last fair deal ... " Man, I love that song. Then they stopped for a second before whipping up a distorted frenzy that gave birth to very crisp "Playin.'" "Miracle" exploded from the "Playin'" jam, and it was just beautiful. But, oh man, "Tennessee Jed" was the highest part of the set. Bob has definitely made this song his own. His voice is, in my humble opinion, better suited for this tune than Jerry's. I wish Bob had been singing this one all along. "Jed" was so great I was convinced that it would close the set. So when Bob pulled out the slide and slid into a bluesy "Maggie's Farm," oh wow ... oh wow. I really like how he has reworked this tune. But, nay, there's more. "She Belongs to Me" was very fine, with Bob howling over and over at the end, "She can take the dark out of the nighttime / And paint the daytime black." Love that line. OK, so now I'm positive the set is over. But no. To finish, Bob electrifies us with a "Stranger," which was really long and funky. The first set started at 8:45; it ended around 10:30 ... if I remember correctly.
Second set. A really nice acoustic "Candyman." Then a mezmerizing "Corrina" - this, I think, is Bob's best new tune by far. After "Corrina" came a super fun "Might as Well." Then they shifted gears and did a long, pschedelic "Tomorrow Never Knows." After a quick jam session without Bob, they did a "Playin'" reprise. "Uncle John's Band" came next and almost shattered the stage. And then ... and then ... and then we hear the creepy, churning, witch-like slide into "Black Peter." This song always kills me. You should have heard Bob screaming "Run and sing" at the end. It was chilling. Out of "Peter" came probably the overall highlight of the night, "Throwing Stones." I got a little sick of this tune in the 80s. But having not seen it live for over fifeteen years makes it new again. Bob has taken this song to such heights it should be outlawed. In a post 9/11 world, "Throwin' Stones" reverberates with a whole new intensity. "Ripple" closed the night, and was it was pure magic.