Phil Lesh – “The Q”
with Jimmy Herring, Warren Haynes, John Molo, & Rob Barraco
Live at the Capitol Theatre – March 17, 2016 – Port Chester, NY
By Christopher Snyder • Photos by Jay Blakesberg
Excitement built in The Capitol Theatre on Thursday (March 17) as Phil Lesh’s Quintet, known as “The Q,” graced the stage together for the first time in two years. Lesh, who turned 76 earlier in the week, was joined by longtime friends and guitarists, Jimmy Herring and Warren Haynes. Filling out the all-star group, the Dead’s bassist called up Rob Barraco on the keyboards and John Molo on the drums.
In typical fashion the band started off the night with a jam, allowing each member to showcase their talents and getting the crowd warmed up. The jam segued seamlessly into the 1967 Traffic tune, “Dear Mr. Fantasy.” Warren Haynes lent his deep bellowing vocals to the number, belting out the lyrics with such emotion as Barraco sported his usual purple bandana and tickled the ivories to his right. Right out of the gate, band was locked in and ready to take the crowd on a magical journey. Lesh and Barraco took over the vocal duties for a laid back rendition of “Cosmic Charlie.” The highlight of the hour long opening set came towards the end with the John Barlow and Bob Weir co-written number, “Cassidy.” Haynes and Herring took the song to the next level with their flawless guitar riffs. Tucked away in the background, John Molo, shined on the drums, with his impeccable ghost notes that kept the band in sync. Even though this was the first time in about two years they have performed together, “The Q” was not missing a beat. Closing the first set, the band was led by Warren Haynes, with a soulful rendition of “Spots Of Time” written by Haynes & Lesh.
The room was buzzing with anticipation on what the band had in store for the second set. Digging deep into The Grateful Dead catalog, The Quintet wasted no time getting the crowd energized with the rare “Mason’s Children.” The Robert Hunter tune only made an appearance on The Grateful Dead setlists a total of fifteen times during a brief stint between 1996-1970. As the jam was coming to a conclusion, Jimmy Herring and Warren Haynes gave way to The Allman Brothers Band classic, “Mountain Jam.” Slowing the pace, Phil stepped up to the microphone to sing a heartfelt “Mountain Of Moon,” giving the group a chance to play off each other freely and let loose. The band was firing on all cylinders, holding nothing back, with a particularly sharp version of “The Other One” that transitioned smoothly into “Cryptical Envelopment.” With Molo’s superb drumming and the duo of Haynes and Herring laying down some smooth guitar licks and Lesh and Barraco complimentary singing, this made for one of the highlights of the set. An energetic rendition of Wilson Pickett’s classic soul number, “In The Midnight Hour” brought the set to a close. The encore, “Days Between,” brought the memorable evening to a close.
The talent that Phil Lesh brought to Port Chester, New York are undoubtedly some of the most highly sought out musicians in the jam scene today. As “The Q,” they gave their fans a night for the ages.