Joe Russo’s Almost Dead at Westville Bowl in New Haven, CT: May 29 2021
Last night, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead completed the second night of their debut three-night run at the Westville Music Bowl in New Haven, Connecticut. Friday’s show had proven to be a near wash-out, but the band had not disappointed, and the weather was supposedly said to improve for Saturday night’s show.
We arrived at Westville around doors-time and flowed easily into the rows of cars already collecting excited tailgaters donned in brightly colored ponchos. After sharing a beer or two of our own beneath a light drizzle, we headed over to the main entrance. (Be sure to take heed of the clear-bag rule on Westville’s website, as security will enforce it and you’ll be forced to buy a bag from the venue).
The Bowl was alive with chatter, laughter, button gifting, and cheers as we stepped inside. Due to the improved weather conditions, the crowd spread out from beneath the overhangs and mingled with friends on the field or in the stands. Everyone smiled, no matter who you looked at, which only confirmed one thing: that tonight was going to be one hell of a party.
Joe Russo, Tom Hamilton, Dave Dreiwitz, Scott Metzger and Marco Benevento took the massive Westville Music Bowl stage at around 6:30 also wearing some of the biggest smiles we had seen that day. I rushed toward the stage from our seats to grab a video of the band’s first song of the night which was the always rocking dance number, “Silvio”. As Tom exchanged some play with Joe, they smiled genuinely to one another as if to say, “We’re back, baby!”
“Bertha” followed, featuring Tom Hamilton on lead guitar and vocals. Scott Metzger led vocals on “Me and My Uncle,” which blossomed into a stomping “Shakedown Street” featuring a few hints at “Let it Grow” and some masterful work by the whole band. “Black Peter,” which was last played in 2018, sweetly rang through the stadium as the drizzle came to a slow stop. The band ended set one with “The Music Never Stopped,” leaving the crowd energized, amazed, and cheering for more.
Much unlike Friday’s show, fans could remain at their seats during set break and discuss their favorite moments from set one. It was 7:45 pm, and the rain had seemingly taken a hiatus for the weekend. From the field, we watched fans busily filter in and out of the stadium with their unequipped raingear like bees in a hive; preparing for set two.
Set two began around twenty after eight, just as the sun was washed away by the darkening overcast sky. Marco Benevento led the band through “Such A Night,” which was clearly a nod at the incredible evening we had all been enjoying together. Just as the crowd became entirely enthralled by Marco’s voice, Tom’s fired us up with an exquisite “Cream Puff War>Truckin’.”
The crowd danced wildly to this deep jam, especially during “Truckin’,” which featured a “New Speedway Boogie” instrumental and vocal tease. All together the band sang, “One way or another/ This darkness has got to give,” stirring the crowd. It was truly one of the highlights of night, but the band was not quite finished amazing us yet.
“St. Stephen,” featured a “Not Fade Away” tease, as well as a “Good Times Bad Times” drum tease which was performed by Joe Russo. “St. Stephen” was another set highlight, and one that made the crowd go absolutely berserk with excitement. “Tough Mama” followed, along with the always fun and familiar, “I Know You Rider” to end the second set. As another nod to their return to live music, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead performed “On The Road Again” for their night-two encore at The Westville Music Bowl, which they have not played since 2016.
As the encore came to a close, Joe grabbed his microphone and thanked the audience thoroughly for sticking it out through the rain. He seemed overjoyed to be speaking directly to his fans once again which was clear by the beaming smile on his face. As the band left the stage and the house music came through the stadium’s huge speakers, the crowd barely budged. Members of security began politely coaxing those of us still dancing out through the exit doors.
I don’t think anyone wanted to leave, but we knew we would be back for one more night very soon.
Silvio (Bob Dylan cover) (>) Bertha
Me and My Uncle (John Phillips cover)
Shakedown Street (>) Black Peter (>)
The Music Never Stopped
Such a Night (Dr. John cover)
Cream Puff War (>) Truckin’ (>)
St. Stephen (>) Tough Mama (Bob Dylan cover)
I Know You Rider [traditional]
On the Road Again (Memphis Jug Band cover)
Taped by Z-Man:
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