Bob Weir performs “Ace” at Radio City Music Hall in New York

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“Is it really 50 years? singer-guitarist Bob Weir recently wondered aloud on his 1972 solo record ace to a packed audience at New York’s Radio City Music Hall, as he and his band Wolf Bros performed it on stage in its entirety. It was the culmination of a long but satisfying evening that not only shed light on this record, but also on the music he composed as a member of the legendary Grateful Dead.

Released May 1, 1972, ace marked Weir’s first solo record on Warner Bros. Records. Technically speaking, it could be considered a Grateful Dead album as virtually every other member of Weir’s band at the time—Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh, Bill Kreutzmann, Keith Godchaux, and Donna Jean Godchaux—played on it. While ace does not deviate stylistically from the music of Dead with its mixture of rock, folk and country (in keeping with the sound of Workingman’s Dead-American Beauty-Skull and Roses-Europe ’72-band era), it made Weir an excellent singer-songwriter in his own right. Proof of this album’s lasting legacy is that many of its songs, including “One More Saturday Night” and “Playing in the Band”, have also been performed by the Dead themselves on stage over the years.

On Saturday, Weir and Wolf Bros regaled the Deadheads in the audience with music from this album, beginning with “Greatest Story Ever Told” sung by guest Tyler Childers; another guest, singer Brittney Spencer joined Weir for “Looks Like Rain” and “Walk in the Sunshine”. With a small horn and strings section accompanying the main band to further fill out the sound, the night was a stroll down memory lane as Weir skimmed through the rest of the record to the delight of fans, including “Black-Throated Wind, “Mexicali Blues”, “Cassidy” and, of course, the happy bouncy “Playing in the Band” and the raspy “One More Saturday Night”.

The performance of the ace album was nestled between Weir’s performances of classic Dead songs such as “Me and My Uncle” and “Loser” during the first half of the show, and an epic rendition of “Weather Report Suite” > “Let It Grow” and the funky, disco-heavy “Shakedown Street” that had the Deadheads dancing in the aisles for the second half. (Another guest, legendary jazz bassist Ron Carter, joined Weir and company for a rendition of “Dark Star”). Earlier, Weir opened the show with a poignant — bandless — rendition of Bob Dylan’s “When I Paint My Masterpiece,” one of many covers the Dead have performed live throughout their career.

For the Radio City show – the first of a two-night adventure at the venue last weekend – Weir was in top form with his soulful vocals and signature guitar riffs that ran through the jams as he was backed by a strong cast of players. Overall, the night was a well-rounded mix of popular Dead songs and solo music that intertwined and blended together quite seamlessly. The fact that the Deadheads, especially in the front section of the room, stood up throughout the show rather than sitting still was proof of how captivating the music was to them.

Setlist (April 2, 2022)

Set 1:

When I paint my masterpiece (Bob Dylan cover)

me and my uncle

Losing

Album “Ace”:

The Greatest Story Ever Told (with Tyler Childers)

Black-throated Wind

Walk in the Sun (with Brittney Spencer) >

Play in the group >

Looks Like Rain (with Brittney Spencer)

Another Saturday night >

Mexican Blues >

Cassidy

Set 2:

You Win Again (Hank Williams and his Drifting Cowboys cover) (with Tyler Childers)

More weather reports >

Let it grow

Shakedown Street

Dark Star (with Ron Carter) (with “Wharf Rat” tease)

Eyes of the World >

What’s Going On (Marvin Gaye cover) >

The eyes of the world (reprise)

Days between >

Play in the band (Reprise)

Bis:

Ripple

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