Joe Russo’s Almost Dead were back at The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York on Friday evening for the first of three shows at the historic venue this weekend. The sold-out show marked their return to the stage with the six-piece band’s first performance of 2019. The fellas in the Grateful Dead-inspired cover band wasted no time in launching fans back into the vibrant world of the Dead’s powerful live catalogue with two sets (and a special guest encore) to mark the start of their new year and what should be another thrilling weekend run at “The Cap.”Rather than use the initial moments of their 60-minute first set to noodle around on some opening jam, Joe Russo and the boys immediately pounded their way into the opening notes of Jesse Fuller‘s “Beat It On Down the Line” with guitarist Scott Metzger singing the audience into a dancing frenzy with the classic blues-rock tune. Set one would be filled with Dead favorites as the band continued right into the classic combination of “Scarlet Begonias” into “Fire on the Mountain”, with Tom Hamilton taking vocal duties, as well as some impressive solos courtesy of his own auto-wah guitar sound throughout the two jam-friendly songs. Metzger tamed all the energy down just slightly in exchange for a more relaxed cowboy tune with a cover of “Black-Throated Wind” out of the Bob Weir solo songbook. The place didn’t stay relaxed very long, as Hamilton then cranked the energy back up with a thrilling, jam-filled rendition of “Bertha”, followed by “Lazy Lightning” to close out the first half of the show.Joe Russo’s Almost Dead – Set One Opening – 1/18/2019[Video: Relix]The band returned to the stage to start set two with the softer melodies of “Friend of the Devil”, with pianist Marco Benevento providing some lovely solo moments while Hamilton led the audience in a venue sing-along throughout the chorus of the 1970 country ballad. The second-half opener was enjoyed by everyone in the sold-out venue, but fans were ready to dance into the weekend after a surprisingly short first set, and the band made sure to oblige. They continued with “The Wheel”, which included a fun tease of The Beatles‘ “Dear Prudence”. The night continued with a rare cover of “Mason’s Children”, a Dead tune originally written and recorded for 1970’s Workingman’s Dead, but never made it onto the classic album. Metzger then took the building momentum right into a groovy rendition of “I Need A Miracle”, with the entire audience singing along with its anthemic chorus. The performance of the Weir solo tune really showcased the wonderful interplay between Hamilton and Metzger, in addition to featuring a very subtle tease of “Estimated Prophet” at the beginning. It was then bassist Dave Dreiwitz‘s turn to take a rare lead on the mic to belt out the high-energy lyrics of Motörhead‘s “Fast and Loose”. The venue was sent into a frenzy as the often quiet bassist helped power the song right into the eye of a psychedelic storm as the band transitioned into “The Other One” to close the night off with a bang.Joe Russo’s Almost Dead – Set Two Opening – 1/18/2019[Video: Relix]Following a brief break, the band returned to the stage with singer/guitarist Tyrone Cotton, whose band had been the opening act at Garcia’s prior to the show. Cotton’s addition to the encore shouldn’t be too surprising for anyone who caught his band rocking out before the show. Even a semi-disguised Joe Russo was spotted enjoying some of the pre-show festivities amongst the audience in the smaller bar/stage area attached to The Cap. Cotton brought out his acoustic guitar and took up lead vocal duties to help take the audience home with a wonderful cover of “Peggy-O”. After all the craziness that ensued throughout the second set, the night came to a romantic end with Hamilton leading the audience through another sing-along with a cover of “Ripple”.The band will look to pick up where they left off on Friday with the second of three scheduled shows at The Cap on Saturday evening. Saturday and Sunday night’s shows are of course sold out, but fans can still tune into the show via the live webcasts.Setlist: Joe Russo’s Almost Dead | The Capitol Theatre | Port Chester, NY | 1/18/2019Set One: Beat It On Down the Line (Jesse Fuller cover) > Scarlet Begonias (Grateful Dead cover) > Fire on the Mountain (Grateful Dead cover) > Black-Throated Wind (Bob Weir cover) > Bertha (Grateful Dead cover), Lazy Lightning (Kingfish cover)Set Two: Friend of the Devil (Grateful Dead cover) > The Wheel* (Jerry Garcia cover), Mason’s Children (Grateful Dead cover) > I Need a Miracle^ (Grateful Dead cover) > Fast and Loose (Motörhead cover) > The Other One (Grateful Dead cover)Encore: Peggy-O** (traditional cover), Ripple** (Grateful Dead cover)* “Dear Prudence” tease** w/ Tyrone Cotton^ “Estimated Prophet” tease
Press Association Ulster made an ideal start to their Guinness PRO12 campaign with a bonus-point win over a lacklustre Opsreys side at the Kingspan Stadium. Man of the match Stuart McCloskey scored 13 points from a try, a conversion and two penalties while the other home side scores in a 28-6 win came from skipper Rob Herring, Wiehahn Herbst and Luke Marshall with the latter’s late run grabbing the maximum points for Neil Doak’s side. Ulster, who led 15-6 at half-time, were never greatly troubled by the Welsh side who were missing a dozen of their frontliners to World Cup duty while the Belfast side have eight away. Ulster were out of the traps quickly with a well-taken fifth-minute score from skipper Herring. It came off some quick hands from the returning Nick Williams – playing his first game since suspension last March – which propelled Willie Faloon through a gap and from the recycle, Herring charged over. McCloskey missed the relatively straightforward conversion but made amends shortly afterwards with a penalty. The visitors came back into it with a Sam Davies penalty after 20 minutes which was won off an Ulster scrum. Still, the home side responded with Andrew Trimble to the fore and his strong carry from a high kick saw the ball recycled and McCloskey crash over in the right corner for an impressive score. The centre then converted and Ulster were 15-3 to the good. Davies closed it to 15-6 just six minutes before the break with his second penalty, but the same player missed a long-range penalty early in the second half, and Ulster again got on the scoreboard with McCloskey’s strong run ending in a penalty which he slotted after 47 minutes. Three minutes later and from an impressive lineout maul, Ulster eventually won a penalty which was again put in the corner to allow Herbst to wrestle his way over. McCloskey missed the tricky conversion, but Ulster led 23-6, which became 28-6 in the dying minutes when Marshall scored in the left corner, with Peter Nelson missing the extras.