Billy & the Kids
18 September 2015 - Red Rocks Amphitheatre - Morrison, CO
for The Lot Scene by Parker
Band Members: Bill Kreutzmann - drums, Tom Hamilton - guitar, Reed Mathis - bass, and Aron Magner - keyboards
Setlist: The Harder They Come, Me and My Uncle, They Love Each Other, Scarlet Begonias, I Know You Rider, Feel Like a Stranger > SpaceJam > Mission in the Rain, Loose Lucy, The Other One > Casey Jones
Just another Friday night at Red Rocks? Hardly. Anything, everything but. (Of course, is there ever “just” another Friday night at RR?) Not only was there a triple bill, but that bill included a member of the Grateful Dead and his fantastic current side project…nothing ordinary about this Friday night, really. And, once Billy & the Kids took the stage, things skewed straight to the extraordinary. With a setlist filled to the brim with Dead favorites, this extremely talented quartet took us all on a joyous musical journey for which we were all so very grateful. Jimmy Cliff’s “The Harder They Come” appeared first on the scene that evening, the band choosing so adeptly to nail it summarily to the back wall of the stage, one and all. Luckily for you, we captured the moment on film so you don’t have to rely on my word for it, take a view:
I think you’ll agree, one helluva way to start a show. They took this wonderful energy to the next song, John Denver’s “Me and My Uncle”, one of my absolute favorite Dead covers. Having invited Railroad Earth’s Tim Carbone to join them on fiddle, Billy and his Kids proceeded to power through this one in a mighty fine fashion. Tim’s fiddle solo work was of the highest quality, as always, however what it contributed to this song was both special and the perfect addition. Only two songs in and the set had all the makings of a powerhouse. “They Love Each Other” followed with Tom Hamilton on lead vocals and a nice, mellow rhythm from Mr. Kreutzmann, as sweet and gentle as this song ever is. Delightful. And then it was time for a monster good version of “Scarlet Begonias” — in fact, in my voice notes I remarked “C’mon…how couldn’t this be good? It’s Billy & the Kids playing ‘Scarlet Begonias’!!” And it was so very, very good, as well. This they took into “I Know You Rider” which became an instant favorite with the supercharged crowd, the grand majority of voices picking up the lyrics and singing out into the night alongside the band. Hamilton treated us all to an superb guitar solo in the middle jam of “Rider” one most certainly worth mentioning. Really tied the song together tightly. Additionally, the harmonies during the choruses were completely on the level, really, really great. Big, important version of that song. Aron Magner stepped up the mic for “Feel Like a Stranger” which came after “Rider” and gifted us with some ridiculously supreme vocal work. That man has a great deal of soul contained within…which he delightfully shared with us all that evening at Red Rocks. That’s not to mention all the intense keyboard acumen he showered upon us — that cat can play those keys!! Hamilton and Mathis led us through a big and nasty central jam, both showcasing their skills on their respective instruments. They took this “Stranger” directly into an appropriately trippy “SpaceJam” and then straight into the lovely “Mission in the Rain” which featured yet more of those fantastic four-part harmonies we had been getting all night. Just gorgeous. And then it was time for more guests, this time the Snarky Puppy horns coming out for a little “Loose Lucy” groove with the boys. Talk about a big, bold, beautiful sound!! Nothing like some brass and brazen badassery to round and round out a song and set, right? It was a huge version of this song sound-wise and sight-wise…what a massively great part of the show! Trumpet solos, brass harmonies, and so much more! As such, in those immortals words I must say: Thank you! For a real good time! No doubt. Mr. Mathis was up the mic for the next song, “The Other One”, giving us even more spot on vocals for our evening. A great rock song, through and through. And a marvelous way to help bring the set towards a close. Jamming the ending hard into the next selection, Billy & the Kids weren’t about to let us down too easily for the night. They took “The Other One” right into “Casey Jones” which they slowed down to a mellow groove with Tom Hamilton back on lead vocals. An excellent ending to an excellent set of music, filled with positive and powerful energy start to finish. And what a show to see at Red Rocks!! It was obvious from the applause and cheering how much the crowd both loved and appreciated their entire time with Billy and his Kids. And I could certainly see why from my own lovely experience. A huge thanks to Misters Kreutzmann, Hamilton, Magner, and Mathis for such a splendid show!! Certainly can hardly wait to see them again, ’tis true!!