The Minglewood opener is a hearty dose of fiery, focused playing to start off the show in promising fashion with Keith really laying in the keys. The DIre Wolf that comes out next is equally solid, but it seems the first set really begins to soar with the Looks Like Rain. On that tune, Jerry and Bobby’s guitar work is phenomenal, and they both feed off each other on a few nice runs. The sweet playing continues right into the They Love Each Other with Phil and Keith both adding a tasty element, with the latter fueling a mid-tune jam that Jerry ends up turning into a sizzling, resplendent soundscape. Jerry’s voice is still recovering from his laryngitis of a few days prior, as it would be for the next few weeks, but his characteristic tone comes through despite the delicate and labored nature of most of his vocals. The next three songs in the set - Big River, El Paso, and Brown Eyed Women - are all excellent, keeping with the tight and spirited play of the previous two tunes. The Let It Grow that caps off the set, though, is a beast of a different order. It starts off in fine form and gathers steam as it goes. Eventually, the band gets locked in a ferocious jam with the drummers pounding away and Jerry scorching off on a powerful cascade of ridiculous guitar licks, barely pausing for another verse before launching off again.
Samson out of the break is heady, providing some serious ensemble jamming in the latter half. Then, the Sunrise delivers; Donna renders the vocals perfectly, Jerry provides some streaking guitar runs, and the tune blends so well with Terrapin, which emerges afterwards. And we get a top-notch rendition of Terrapin, leading to an awesome, inventive, and charging Playin’. The Playin’ goes into some spacey territory, sounding almost like bugs scurrying about, before turning into a bass and drums exploration. Then the rest of the boys return for another turn at Space. Before too long, they sidle into a rousing Stephen, which lifts off in a stratospheric jam in the second half that circles around the theme and then comes back for the final vocals. From there, the boys head right into Not Fade Away, which is righteous in its own right, especially as it settles into its own deep jamming exploration towards the end. After the bass-heavy noodling into which the NFA descends, the Playin’ reprise comes as a total, exuberant release, putting a fine cap on both the set and the incredible, inspired journey from Terrapin onwards. And, the entire night is topped by a full-on Passenger encore that is not to be missed.