Photos by Ron Adelberg, Review by Chris Snyder
Gracing the stage for their eleventh show of 2019, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead was welcomed with open arms on Wednesday night at Penn’s Peak nestled in the mountains of Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. The Maury Road venue illuminated in red bold letters for the sold out, mid-week performance. Originally intended to be a one night group between Joe Russo and his all star cast of musicians back in January 2013 in Brooklyn, JRAD has become one of the hottest touring bands on the circuit today.
Easing the capacity crowd into the show, drummer Joe Russo and guitarist Tom Hamilton, began the show with a beautiful “spacey jam” that segued into the beginning of the traditional number, “Peggy-O”. With a heavy tease filled rendition of “The Music Never Stopped,” the quintet gave some musical nods to Black Sabbath (“War Pigs”) & John Coltrane (“Love Supreme”). Not losing any steam, Marco Benevento, tickled the ivories while leading into “Loose Lucy,” a tune that last saw the light of day during a JRAD performance on 12/31/16 in Port Chester, NY. Highlighting the eighty five minute first set was a powerful “Let It Grow,” where Scott Metzger showcased his wizardly guitar skills along with his vocals.
After set one of the opening night of the four night stretch, the band was loosening up nicely amongst the mountains of Northeastern Pennsylvania. With grace and ease, Russo led the four other players into “The Eleven” from the second set number, “Man Are Smart, Women Are Smarter.” Seeing tie dye as far as the eye could see, you felt like you were back in the Sixties at Haight Asbury. The energy was through the roof as Hamilton led everyone in the classic number “Going Down The Road,” before Dave Dreiwitz dropped some funktified bass notes smoothly into “We Bid You Goodnight.” Keeping the vibes at “11″ (penned by genius lyricist Robert Hunter), “Fire On Mountain” was well-executed by the prolific musicians.
“Lady With A Fan” was beautifully arranged as Benevento teased Led Zeppelin’s classic number “No Quarter” flowing into an epic “Terrapin Station.” Right before the clock struck twelve midnight, the quintet left the Jim Thorpe folks with a rockin’ “Big Railroad Blues.”
Each of the members of Joe Russo’s Almost Dead have other projects that they are involved with, but when they come together as one it is pure magic. This was evident in their performance at Penn’s Peak.