Thursday, January 18, 2024

Live Review: Joe Russo's Almost Dead - 1/12/24 @ Capitol Theatre, Port Chester, NY

Joe Russo's Almost Dead
Live @ 1/12/24
Capitol Theatre, Port Chester, NY

The first of three consecutive sold out shows over MLK weekend from Joe Russo's Almost Dead kicked off with fans filling in the venue on Friday night January 11th, as the group strolled onto one of their favorite stages to play, The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY. 

JRAD are, Russo on drums, bassist Dave Dreiwitz, keyboardist Marco Benevento, Scott Metzger and Tom Hamilton on guitar and vocals, and they wasted no time, diving into the high intensity interplay that has won them a legion of fans. The opening jamming coalesced into a version of Bob Dylan's classic, "Tangled Up In Blue" as Hamilton sung the lead while smiling and dancing as the outfit got loose behind him. 

One of the best played songs of the evening arrived next as the band dove deep into "Cumberland Blues". Benevento and Russo traded runs building up the energy, before spelunking the proverbial Mine with eerie musical lines. The excavation commenced around Hamilton and Metzger's glorious guitar crescendos bringing us all back to the surface as the band expertly toyed with sonic peaks and valleys. The following version of "Passenger" continued the majestic, upbeat playing as the slide guitar from Hamilton soared, while Russo and Dreiwitz used mega force to push the song to rock heights. 

After that burning three song opener the band finally took a pause and things mellowed with a lounge/jazz take on "New Speedway Boogie" which wandered aimlessly after some nice piano work from Marco. This group works much better with up beat tempos as opposed to space-like freestyle, but things improved as the band found their way into a soaring version of "Estimated Prophet" before closing the first set with a jubilant take on "Loose Lucy" which featured teases of The Beatles "Day Tripper" and Otis Redding's "Tramp".

The second set opened with a Russo led version of "Uncle John's Band" that ebbed and flowed in revved up JRAD style, while "Saint of Circumstance" was a beast. It seems the band always gives a bit extra to these 80's Dead tunes as they slammed to start, stretched out with focus and gravity before huge piano and guitar work to close; a great version of this song. 

"Help on the Way" found the crowd exploding as electro keys and especially deep bass from Dreiwitz anchored things. The band delivered an almost heavy metal version of the instrumental "Slipknot!" that used wah-wah and massive energy before the major surprise of the night as the group dropped into a cover of the Screaming Trees hit, "Nearly Lost You" that proved to be a singalong to the 40-50 somethings in the crowd.

A return to the country fried rock saw "Big River" get a very bubbling jam going, powered by the slamming drums of Russo whose energy never waned on the night. "Bird Song" took a long cosmic-spacey route to get going, building and morphing into a fun, ramshackle take on The Rolling Stones "Shattered" to close the excellent show. The group encored with a sedated "Ripple" as satiated fans exited into the Westchester night, concluding a fun evening of tunes as many got ready for nights two and three of this run.     
Support the band, check out the full show on archive, and peep some video below (Show starts at 7:00):

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