The legendary Bob Weir returned to Minneapolis on Tuesday night. Playing with bassist Don Was and drummer Jay Lane as “Bob Weir and Wolf Bros,” the Grateful Dead guitarist turned in two solid sets at the Fillmore, pleasing diehard deadheads and newcomers alike.
Set one saw the band lock into an early groove with a strong opening “Hell in a Bucket.” The and only got hotter from there. Two early country covers (Johnny Cash’s “Big River” and Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried”) were crowd favorites. Everybody loves an old country song, and these, being staples of the Dead’s catalog, made perfect sense in this context.
After a slower, but still sturdy “West L.A. Fadeaway,” Weir took out an acoustic guitar for a two-song run that would prove to be one of the nights highlights. “Only a River” isn’t an old favorite, but rather a new(ish) cut, from Weir’s 2016 album Blue Mountain. The acoustic treatment it was given was appropriate, giving the song a feel and tone that set it apart from the electric numbers that comprised the bulk of the set.
Much of the same could be said for the traditional “Peggy-O,” which on any night is haunting and beautiful, but stood out especially in this show. “Deep Elem Blues” and an electric “Sugaree” closed out the set.
Set two started on a familiar, but welcome note: an acoustic rendition of a classic country song. Kris Kristofferson’s hit “Me and Bobby McGee” made for a delightful opener. It wouldn’t be the final cover in the set, as the band wove in The Temptations’ “Shakey Ground” and the Beatles classic “Dear Prudence,” the latter of which came after a massive “Estimated Prophet” that went in a number of directions musically.
The set was capped with a typically cathartic version of the politically charged “Throwing Stones.” Like the rest of the show, it blended structure and improvisation effectively and marking a climactic peak in a strong concert.