Photo by Jake May
Joe Russo’s Almost Dead played a sold-out show at Brooklyn Bowl on Monday, Nov. 25 as part of the “Make America RAD Again” Headcount benefit. The band played a setlist of songs voted on by fans, including the first “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” since June of 2017.
To kick off the evening, Headcount’s executive director Andy Bernstein took the Brooklyn Bowl stage to say a few words. “This is truly our home away from home, and I’m sure so many of you feel that,” said Bernstein. “It’s just incredible to be here.” He also noted that the members of Joe Russo’s Almost Dead have been involved with Headcount events for years: “These guys have been there for us literally from day one.”
As the band took the stage, drummer and namesake Joe Russo noted that they “tried to do something different with the theme of voting.” “We put up a list of 160 songs that we could play and had y’all vote for your 5 favorite songs,” said Russo. “We tallied the votes, and apparently these are the songs you guys wanted to hear.”
The first set began with “Althea,” which seamlessly moved into “The Eleven.” This would become a theme of the night; the band rarely came to a complete stop, instead letting each song flow into the next organically. After a pairing of “Viola Lee Blues” > “Franklin’s Tower” – the latter of which led to a particularly raucous crowd reaction – the band dropped into a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City.”
Next came “Rubin and Cherise,” a Jerry Garcia song played only four times by the Grateful Dead, but 38 times by Joe Russo’s Almost Dead (according to setlist.fm). “Eyes of the World” followed, featuring superb solos from each band member. Finally, the set closed with a cover of The Allman Brothers Band’s “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed.” It was just the fourth time JRAD had ever performed the song, and the first time played since Jun. 3, 2017 in Atlanta, Ga.
The second set began with “St. Stephen,” which featured a rollicking double-time jam before dropping back into the main theme. “Scarlet Begonias” came next, and the jam out of this song led perfectly into “Dark Star.” The “Dark Star” jam featured an “Elizabeth Reed” reprise, before the band shifted to “Terrapin Station Suite.” This 35-minute behemoth featured monstrous drumming from Russo and nimble shifts in dynamics by the whole band. “Shakedown Street” came next, followed by “Throwing Stones” to close the show. “Throwing Stones” featured an “Another Brick In The Wall, Pt. 2” (Pink Floyd) jam, with the band improvising around the song’s signature lick. Finally, the band encored with “Jack Straw.”
Check out videos of JRAD’s first and second set openers from last night below, via the Relix Channel. Additionally, Headcount released the results of the fan-elected songs; see those (including songs that barely missed the cut) below!
Joe Russo’s Almost Dead
Nov. 25, 2019
Make Democracy RAD Again Headcount Benefit
Brooklyn Bowl, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Set I: Althea > The Eleven > Viola Lee Blues > Franklin’s Tower > Atlantic City > Rubin and Cherise > Eyes of the World > In Memory of Elizabeth Reed
Set II: St. Stephen > Scarlet Begonias > Dark Star* > Terrapin Station Suite > Shakedown Street > Throwing Stones^
Enc: Jack Straw
*featured “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” reprise
^featured “Another Brick In The Wall, Pt. 2” jam