Joe Russo’s Almost Dead at the Westville Music Bowl May 30 2021 By Andrea F. Flohn
Joe Russo’s Almost Dead completed their three-night run at the Westville Music Bowl In New Haven, CT and although the rain had taken a hiatus for most of Saturday’s performance, it returned with a vengeance on Sunday evening.
However, many fans came prepared for the second round of showers over New England, donning themselves in layers and hooded raincoats before making their way up to The Bowl’s main entrance. We arrived at the main parking lot just as doors opened and waited out as much of the rain as we could before heading inside. Much like the previous night, the former tennis stadium was hopping with activity already.
At around 5:30, Joe Russo, Tom Hamilton, Dave Dreiwitz, Scott Metzger, and Marco Benevento took the stage with multi-instrumentalist and musical friend, Stuart Bogie in tow. Bogie, donned in a black beanie, carried his saxophone to the stage and landed next to Scott Metzger; the band quickly descending into a jazzy “Eyes of the World,” which lasted over twenty minutes. The jam features a “Breakdown” tease which broke the crowd out of their dream-like state.
“Estimated Prophet” followed featuring Scott Metzger’s voice which is eerily similar to young Bob Weir on this song. Additionally, Stuart Bogie joined the band on flute, and was contrasted nicely by Dave Dreiwitz on bass for an extensive “Friend of the Devil” jam.
Just before the band struck up again into an incredible “Cassidy,” the rain came down harder than ever before. With that in mind, “Goin’ Down The Road Feelin’ Bad” practically became the theme song of Sunday’s show, and was certainly a set one highlight. The number features stunning solo work by Marco Benevento on keys, and as Tom Hamilton sang “Goin’ where the chilly winds don’t blow,” the crowd threw their arms to the sky and cheered like crazy.
To slow things down a bit, the band performed “Candyman,” during which the crowd mingled, took rainy photos together, and swayed to the music. Tom Hamilton’s mid-range tenor melded nicely with Bogie’s flute playing on this number, along with some remarkable harmonies from the band.
The melancholy mood created by “Candyman” did not last long, as the band started the party again with “The Eleven>Franklin’s Tower,” which features a brief “Slipknot!” tease. The crowd was especially pleased by “Franklin’s,” as we all were just trying to roll away the night’s dew! Before the band took a much-deserved set break, Joe thanked the audience for bearing with the weather and promised to make a return shortly.
When the band returned around twenty minutes later, the crowd had already mostly gathered in their seats again. Joe Russo grabbed his microphone and said, “Everyone hangin’ in there alright?” to which the crowd responded with a resounding yes. Once again, Joe thanked the crowd thoroughly for their good humor despite the inclement weather. He said, “I think we all pictured a summertime weekend here…you guys are amazing!”
And to thank us even more, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead lit up the Westville Music Bowl with a funky, jazzy, weird, and wonderful “Scarlet Begonias>Fire on the Mountain>Scarlet Reprise,” followed by the best “Beat It On Down The Line” any JRAD fan has ever heard. The tempo was perfectly upbeat, as Joe Russo tore up his drum set, and Scott delivered the singalong style lyrics with finesse to the frantic, dancing crowd. Marco Benevento showcased some incredible rag-time piano playing during this number as well, increasing the rapidity of the crowd’s movement. But the most impressive moment from “Beat It On Down The Line” was certainly Tom Hamilton’s show stopping guitar solo, accompanied by Stuart’s screaming saxophone.
“He’s Gone,” allowed the crowd to gain their bearings once again, and featured some sensual, sweet playing by Stuart Bogie on flute. As one of the night’s slower numbers, “He’s Gone” was certainly the favorite among fans who bellowed a “Steal your face right off your head,” back to the band. “Playin’ In The Band” followed, featuring an intergalactic jam by Bogie on Sax. To end the set, and in the tradition of a Sunday Grateful Dead show, the band performed “Samson and Delilah” for their show closer.
The band returned for an encore, which happened to be another do-over from the band’s last performance at the Capitol Theatre in February of 2020. They ended their first three-night run at Westville with “Born to Run,” which was sung by Tom Hamilton. It was a bittersweet moment leaving the Bowl that evening, and we couldn’t wait for our return in June.
Taped by Z-Man
Eyes of the World (>) Estimated Prophet
Cassidy (>) Going Down the Road Feelin’ Bad (Henry Whitter cover) (>) Candyman
The Eleven (>) Franklin’s Tower
Scarlet Begonias (>) Fire on the Mountain (>) Beat It on Down the Line (Jesse Fuller cover)
He’s Gone (>) Playing in the Band
Samson and Delilah ([traditional] cover)
Born to Run (Bruce Springsteen cover)
With Stuart Bogie On Saxophone And Flute
Joe Russo – Drums And Vocals
Scott Metzger – Guitar And Vocals
Tom Hamilton – Guitar And Vocals
Dave Dreiwitz – Bass And Vocals
Marco Benevento – Keyboard And Vocals
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