Phil Lesh & Friends
The Fox Theater
December 13, 2005
Concert Photos and Review by David Oppenheimer
© 2005 Performance Impressions - All Rights Reserved

Phil Lesh & Friends - The Fox Theater - Atlanta

I got lucky the snow held up and that my last final for the semester ended at 2pm leaving just enough time to make the trip from Asheville to Hotlanta to catch the last two nights of Phil Lesh & Friends’ 2005 Fall tour. It was flurrying for the first couple of hours of the drive. I was hoping the sun would come out once my friend Jeremy and I got south of the mountains. It was even snowing after crossing into Georgia. Finally the sky seemed clear up ahead and just as sun was skirting the mountain tops, Promise Land was playing on the stereo and sure enough, we were 90 miles out of Atlanta by sundown, heading cross the Georgia state.

On this 40th anniversary of the Grateful Dead, Phil spent the first part of the year promoting his new book Searching for the Sound, meeting fans at book-signings across the country. Phil Lesh has remained ever vigilant in his campaign to persuade all that he can reach of the importance of being an organ donor - as Phil was blessed with a new lease on life, receiving a liver transplant himself in 1998. Phil often points out that one should write down this decision and tell family members in addition to getting the endorsement on your driver’s license.

Atlanta is usually hospitable to Deadheads, and this run was no different. Phil brought us to the ornate and historic Fox Theater in downtown Atlanta. Like usual the Atlanta police left us kids to ‘our own device’ to set up a modest shakedown street in pay-lot behind the Fox. Tickets were not hard to find for the few who weren’t in yet. Music filled the parking lot as people were hanging out, meeting friends, at the hippie bazaar.

Phil’s ever evolving group of ‘friends’ in his band consisted of Barry Sless, Larry Campbell, John Molo, Mookie Siegel, Chris Robinson for his 2005 fall tour. The first night got off to an early start with an opener that always seems to set the mood just right, Let the Good Times Roll. The band put on a smokin’ show sharing old-school tunes for what many on tour considered the best show of the run. Midway through the first set the band covered Traffic’s Who Knows What Tomorrow May Bring. After busting a Mr. Charlie, the first set ended with Pride of Cuccuamunga and Sittin' On Top of The World. The show was truly a blast and we were treated to a double encore, Going Down the Road Feeling Bad > And We Bid You Goodnight. After the show Shakedown Street became a bustling party. Never harassed or asked to leave, the kids slowly started heading to their final destinations for the evening although some suspect Russo and his crew stayed in the lot overnight. The lot was full by the 2 or 3 the next afternoon with parking spots opening up as people got off work and moved their cars. The afternoon warmed up enough so you could sit in the sun in a t-shirt.

The last night of tour was a blast but had a hard time competing with the night before. David Steep, aka ‘Drunk N’ High Dave’, who saw the whole tour except Milwaukee and Chicago thought that the first night in Atlanta was best show he’d seen on the fall tour. He was impressed with Barry Sless and thought Mookie needed his keyboard and mic turned up. Barry sat down at one point impressing the crowd with his slide guitar skills. Many weren’t impressed by Chris Robinson’s performance who left the stage several times but others were big fans of the performacne by the Black Crows front man in tight pants. Phil friend regular John ‘The White Cloud’ Molo was having fun. You could tell the special bond that Phil and John share from John’s eager glances looking for cues from Phil to their hug at the end of the show, like reunited twins. Phil was looking and sounding great, showing no signs of fatigue on the last night of the East coast tour, you can tell how much he loves jamming for his fans by the extended length of his shows which often twice as long as what you’d expect from other bands a third of Phil’s age. It was apparent from Phil’s frequent smiles that he was having a great time. After a Help>Slip>Frankin’s the band encored with Not Fade Away.

The theater lived up to its reputation as one of the coolest indoor theaters, with stars on the ceiling, couches in the hall, the lighting on and off-stage, the bars, and intricate walls - the place is off the hook. Talking to people about the show, words like phenomenal and amazing were the two most used to describe it. .

David Oppenheimer - Performance Impressions

40 Years - Welcome to Georgia

Phil Lesh

Barry Sless

Chris Robinson

John Molo

Mookie Siegal

Larry Campbell

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