“A few more words before I rest. This is no riddle, this is no test.” Every now and then rock and roll will surprise even the most crazed of its devotees. A sort of B-Side, acoustical adjustment, turning us back around toward the stage. Our eyes again open wide and reflecting one or all twelve “F” orbiting quasars hanging high in our cosmic posts red and blue halcyon haze. These shows are special. More than just mere compilations of this cosmik catalog, they are ageless evenings full of magic-mystic, musical ways. The scene is Sacramento, but it could have been almost anywhere on this recent tour. What sets this night apart and most likely why you are reading this now, is of course the music. A rhapsodic race toward the psychedelic promised land that left us all ringing with a holographic hum and floating in a freedom forward state of mind. By setbreak I was already raving this one up to all the usual front-few-row freaks and counting the days until I could fully flesh this one out. Or at least relay how I remember it, conjuring an electric like energy through our souls. This is the Almanac’s deep dive into 1/27/18.
The day started just a few hours down the coast from the golden states capital city. A blur of Levon backbeats and good company while barreling through the sun-tipped mountains and open fields outside our windows. Even with the music ahead firmly in our focus, this was the type of scenery that could stop traffic and time. Reserved for the pages of glossy magazines and drifting, sand soaked daydreams. But we pushed on northbound, at times with no more than a simple glance of acknowledgment at the Pacific sunset gracing our path. The line of freaks forming outside was truly a sight to behold and we approached the venue and evening ahead with that same familiar reverence and floating feeling.
A sold out crowd stretched wide and deep before both myself and the soundboard nucleus from behind which I’d taken my spot for the set. Sean disappeared into his headphones and I watched closely as he set the nights coordinates. Mental manipulations joining the physical, melting into the blinking lights and faders on his console. The sound seemed to bubble and brew from every corner and burn along with the amber stage lights and friendly smoke rising from the beating heart of the gathered. The combined growl of CR’s guitar and vocal kicked off the opener, I’m Ready, with a rowdy Domino churning twist. It’s nights like this when it’s all easier to access early, and the power coming from the stage seemed to carry us away. Rosalee arriving in the two spot clearly signaled the coming ceremony of sound with Adam punishing his keys and playing like nobody else on the planet can. Rarely grouped musicalities now existing through every pulse and groove.
The opening colors of Meanwhile began to wash over us and with it came that escalating murmur and buzz. That bus station on mars style of cognitive convergence and unspoken tongue as we all wonder where the coming jam will lead. Just like so many times before, that sweeping swirl erased all rational reasoning and I watched the crowd let go in groups 10 or 15. Newcomers falling in time and surrendering alongside the medicated masses. Meanwhile> never disappoints and allows us to focus and move knowing it’s open ended freedom waits. The build here is intense, with everyone contributing. First sending out notes, then responding as a whole to those specific reports and replies. The warm Worrell-like burst from Adam blending perfectly with CR’s psychedelic tinged bolts while Neal raises and lowers his Walker and closes his eyes. Leading our ascension higher and higher until the entire soundscape dips and the rhythm section takes the groove and us off into a whole other direction. It sparkles, then peaks and around the 14 minute mark the delicate winds of Tumbleweed start to push their way through. As dusty and emotional as ever. Jeff and Tony controlling the temperature and tempo with the slightest of hand and timeless accentuations. CR’s voice is so strong and this tale of emerald wondering enters our veins with the delicate prick a rose, then explodes like a junkies mind behind his needle. With the ease of a warm, playful California wind it all comes and goes just before we can pin it down and start to define it.
Blue Star Woman spins into the set on that same westward wind, teasing us with its rhyme and reason until it’s very own musical symphony appears mid flight. High Is Not the Top has become a true anthem of perseverance and has so much momentum now. Like many of the Barefoot songs, it becomes a sort of new, unseen beast when it’s writhing and bleeding before us live. Bounding like shooting stars out of the monitors, the songs are leading the band. Clear Blue Sky is sparkling through my field of vision and as I move it seems like only a blink separates me now from it all. Like just the mere thought of mobility would carry my untethered feet to a new angle where I’d finish the set. I knew that wave of Sunday Sound jubilation was coming and I slowly started making my way through the sea of smiling faces and hip-shake limps. Emerging behind the stage just as the whole thing started to blink in and out of existence like a holographic city, crumbling beneath rock and roll. I was breathing deeply, dancing in a doorway behind the stage. Fist raised in salute to my friends and freak family in front. The set was ending and the whole joint was burning down. I could feel Tony’s snare pop and his kick reply. He was playing like fire. Limbs aflame at the back of the stage, beneath a freak flag now descending, in the moment, in ashes. Jeff bobbing and dodging glowing psychedelic projectiles while CR laughed, half crazed in the middle of the whole scene. Whipping everyone into a frenzy before sneaking off stage left for setbreak, grinning as if he’d just pulled off the crime of the season.
Adam welcomed us all back from the break with a beautiful piano lead into the Exile cornerstone Loving Cup. CR’s early vocal connects the event until the whole band joins the ride in on Jeff’s bassline and Tony’s time. A Cali Hymn anywhere in the set is cause for rejoicing, but a monster one like this really spreads the news. They work out every corner here, delicate at times and at others, creating the sound of a runaway Surf Liner down the coast. The musical count into Beggars is on point and dripping with Casal’s T-Rex flavored riffs. The songs strut & crawl and gold-lined harmony bounces us overboard in New Orleans and we can only watch the paddlewheel and party lights fade into the night. The whole evening slows down for an always emotional Reflections which quickly becomes a tender spot in the heart of this Saturday night Sacramento beast. Behold The Seer is another Barefoot composition that literally gets bigger and badder with every subsequent resurrection. Mark your star charts for the 6:00 mark in this one for undeniable audible proof that we’ve got a true guitar visionary in our favorite band. Neal blasts off and pulls every single one of of us with him as the band pulls off their now customary high speed jam/burn out of Seer.
This party of restless warriors and cosmic souls continued through a blistering Hark with CR biting off the verses with every bit of Dylan’s 67’ sneer and wit. Ain’t It Hard But Fair seems to always find us singing those words of wisdom back at those smiling familiar faces. Our own official CRB brand of telekinetic musical therapy. The Shore Power siren emanating from our Wizards lab was all the warning we needed. A call to all outstretched-arms that the end was near and it was time to dance it all into dust while we still had time on left on the galactic clock. With all the drive you’d expect from a set/show closer packed into a compact 6 minute laser precise version, we barely had time to catch our breath and find room to sway before our Neal was bending the intro to Uncle Neil’s (Young) blurry eyed so long serenade, Roll Another Number. A thoughtful way to send all of us home safe and starry eyed and the band across that great divide into America for their Winter 18’ tour! Tonight was definitely the night and thanks to the hardest working crew in the land, we can revisit this jewel of the jam anytime in wonderful soundboard quality. Click the link and get your boarding pass tonight. We love you! The CRB loves you!! Freak On brothers and sisters!!!
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