Two full sets of Bob Weir & Wolf Bros in Syracuse, New York

Bobby Weir is touring with a killer band right now, who sound fantastic. If you’re a Deadhead and this show comes within 200 miles, go see it. Okay… had to get that out of the way.

Bob Weir & Wolf Bros (as well as The Wolf Pack) came to the Landmark Theater in Syracuse, NY on March 30th. The Landmark is one of Syracuse’s best venues; it’s the definition of the phrase ‘built to last’: a glittering palace, with ornate carvings in beautiful colors on every bannister.

This is metaphorically the perfect venue for Weir’s new band.

Gone are the stripped-down sounds of previous tours with the Wolf Bros. Still featuring the GRAMMY-winning producer and bassist Don Was, drummer Jay Lane (the original drummer from Primus) and Jeff Chimenti on keys, the band adds the ‘Wolf Pack’ — a string and brass quintet. This new lineup brings lush, orchestral arrangements to Dead tracks that allow Bobby to do what he does best — be up front and shine. Deadheads, a notoriously musical savvy group as it is, appreciate dancing to violins and cellos and trombones and woodwinds and pedal steel.

The first set began with a nice “New Speedway Boogie” into “Hell in a Bucket”. “Minglewood Blues” was another standout selection and the top track was, of course, the closer, “Birdsong”. The band took a 40-minute set break and then the magic started up once again.

The second set was out of control.

It started with a stripped-down “Peggy-O”, featuring just Weir onstage. Next was a rendition of Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain is Gonna Fall” that added in the the band verse-by-verse. The whole crowd was singing at this point. There was a feeling in the air that something special was happening. And, that’s when the band broke into a “Silvio” mashed up with a cover of “Tequila” by The Champs that blew the lid off the joint. People started dancing like crazy! The flow didn’t stop until the end of the show. The band ripped through a “Truckin’”, a “China/Rider” and a “Casey Jones” that had everyone moving. The crowd was exhausted by the end of the show, everyone expressing astonishment at Weir’s new group.  

The universal verdict? Bobby’s doing something special here. If you can catch a date on the tour and be a part of it, then do it. This tour is a true treat for fans of The Grateful Dead! Thank you, Bobby Weir, for a real good time.

Photography by Tom Fucillo

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