It was obvious from the start that Furthur - the latest project from original Grateful Dead members Phil Lesh and Bob Weir -probably couldn't draw the 8,000 or so Deadheads it would need to fill West Valley City's Maverik Center, but that's where they ended up anyway.
But the band, which never talked to the roughly 3,000 or so people gathered Wednesday save for Lesh's traditional "organ donor rap," in which the 71-year-old liver transplant recipient advocates for others to donate organs, didn't seem to mind the crowd's small size. They delivered two career-spanning sets ranging from obscure '60s' fan favorites like "Doin' That Rag," to more well-known material such as "Friend of the Devil" and a cover of "Turn On Your Lovelight."
The band delved deep into its songbook in the second set for takes on "Comes A Time," a tune found on the 1976 Jerry Garcia solo album "Reflections," and also played the complete "Terrapin Station" suite, which takes up side two of 1977's "Terrapin" album.
By and large, despite some oddities in the setlist, which Furthur has become known for, including a cover of the Rolling Stones' "We Love You," both sets were energetic, fast-paced and well played. Main vocalist Bob Weir and John Kadlecik both benefit from backup singers Jeff Pehrson and Sunshine Becker who added great harmonies to "Deal," and "Passenger," both highlights from the first set. Also, drummer Joe Russo was terrific throughout the show, particularly during "Colors of the Rain," and "Here Comes Sunshine."
Also, Kadlecik, who filled Garcia's role more than a decade in the Grateful Dead tribute band Dark Star Orchestra handled the late bandleaders vocals on guitar stylings on a late-era GD classic, "Foolish Heart." And the solo section in "Foolish" allowed bassist Lesh, rhythm guitarist Weir and Kadlecik to meld an interesting jam segment that was warmly received by the audience.
Furthur, with its focus on Grateful Dead chestnuts and the unpredictably of its setlists is loved by Deadheads. The band's regular repertoire is more than 120 songs and with West Valley hosting the fifth show of the current Western tour, no songs have been repeated yet. The crowd roared its approval to the openings of several songs, most notably "All Along the Watchtower," and "Not Fade Away." It's just a shame the venue booking didn't prove ideal as much of the music proved to be. If you are a Deadhead and missed Furthur, that's a shame because that may have been the last time they play the Wasatch Front.
Here's the setlist from Wednesday night:
Set One Cosmic Charlie Loose Lucy Alligator Friend of the Devil Deal Big Railroad Blues Doin' That Rag Passenger
Set Two Here Comes Sunshine> Foolish Heart> Turn On Your Lovelight> Colors of the Rain> All Along The Watchtower> Terrapin Station> Terrapin Flyer> Comes A Time> We Love You> Not Fade Away
E: U.S. Blues