The Dead in D.C., a Stirring, Smoky Bipartisan Show
Updated, 2:22 p.m.
Last night's Dead show in Washington was like hanging out with a long lost, dear friend after many years. We just picked up where we left off.
Clearly Tipper Gore felt the same way. She boogied down on stage, just off Warren Haynes's left shoulder to "Uncle John's Band," and the rousing closer, "Ripple."
The teeming masses of nostalgic (and newbie) Deadheads obliged when bassist Phil Lesh shouted, "Give a big hand for Tipper Gore!" (Lesh, a liver transplant survivor, also urged his fans to become organ donors.)
The former vice president's wife, who was not accompanied by Al, wasn't the only political celebrity digging the four-hour long reunion concert, the second of the band's Spring 2009 tour.
Also there were Obama senior aides David Axelrod, Pete Rouse and Jim Messina, who met with all the surviving members of the Grateful Dead - plus Haynes and keyboardist Jeff Chimenti - at the White House on Monday evening after President Obama hosted the band for a private meeting in the Oval Office.
Last night's crowd was predictably loaded with lefty "Deadheads for Obama" as well as the usual pot-smoking and tripping Deadheads of no political persuasion whatsoever, other than the Party of Jerry. (And yes, plenty - we dare say lots - of people were smoking some sort of sweet green stuff inside the Verizon Center. Note to editors: the Sleuth was horrified.)
But we also spotted plenty of conservatives digging the show. Hardcore conservatives.
As Tipper was on stage swaying her hips, on the other side of the stage, in a suite just off Bob Weir's right shoulder, was Barry Jackson, the longtime deputy to Karl Rove who worked all eight years, right up to the bitter end, in the Bush White House.
Barry was boogeying like nobody's business - through the hour-long rendition of "Dark Star" into the encore.
There were other conservatives there, too, including two senior aides to House Minority Whip Eric Cantor: the whip's chief of staff, Rob Collins. and Matt Lira, director of new media. (Their boss wasn't there; the congressman much prefers Britney Spears to The Dead.)
Last night was nostalgic, and some moments were magical. The opener, "Cassidy," was terrific and a bit of a tearjerker given that it was the first time any of us had seen the entire band together in over a decade.
Aside from covering the fundraisers that Bobby and Mickey Hart have played over the past several years for Congress' preeminent Deadhead, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the Sleuth hadn't seen a real Dead show since 1995 at RFK stadium, the last time Jerry Garcia performed in Washington.
It was great catching up with our old friends again. Hopefully, you will get a chance, too, during the rest of their '09 tour.
UPDATE: We'd like to respond to one of our less friendly commenters, who wrote: "Umm I dont know what show you were at last night, Ms. Slueth, but Tipper Gore actually tried to play the drums during the last song before the encore, Sugar Magnolia, hence why Phil Lesh introduced her prior to his organ donar rap. Mickey Hart also tried to announce, Mrs. Gore but he was too loud in his attempt and his wrods sounded garbled. How you could have missed, Mrs. Gore playing the drums I do not know, as she occasionally had the rhythm but appeared a bit lost most of the time."
Here's why we missed it, and why we're so glad we did: The Sleuth left her seat during space and drums (which, frankly, dragged on too long) to walk around and chat with friends and sources outside and buy a t-shirt. (Dancing bears for the Sleuth, the Dead 2009 t-shirt for Mr. Sleuth.) When we heard the encore we rushed back inside, and found a great spot near the stage. Mrs. Gore had already had her thrill on the drums, playing percussion during "Sugar Magnolia," which according to people around me and others with whom I spoke today, wasn't as good as her dancing. While some cheered the former second lady's attempt to jam with the Dead, others booed. We applaud her for her chutzpah.
For anyone who is interested, here's the set list:
Set 1: Cassidy; Passenger; Pride Of Cucamonga; Easy Wind (Warren vocals); Lazy River Road; Alabama Getaway (Warren vocals); Big Railroad Blue
Set 2: Peggy-O (acoustic); Glory Road (acoustic); A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall (acoustic);
Jam; Dark Star; King Solomon's Marbles; Drums; Space; Come Together; Dark Star;
Sugar Magnolia (Tipper Gore percussion)
Encore: Uncle John's Band; Ripple
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