WILMINGTON — To honor the 50th anniversary of the release of the Grateful Dead's album Europe '72, Bearly Dead of Boston will perform the work in its entirety at Historic Memorial Hall on Saturday, Nov. 5, at 8 p.m.
“The band's upbeat tempo and deep jams will keep you moving,” says Joe Levy, booking manager of Historic Memorial Hall.
“We decided to play the entire album since it was 50 years to the day since it was released,” Bearly Dead guitarist Nick Swift says of the triple album that featured highlights of the Grateful Dead's tour of western Europe that year.
Band members will bring their own unique spin to the classic album, re-imagining the songs and jams. With no designated band members playing the roles of Jerry Garcia or Bobby Weir, and with 230 songs in rotation and new material being added all the time, Bearly Dead performs unique set lists every night so that each show is different.
Presented by the nonprofit organization Friends of Historic Memorial Hall, the performing arts space is finally back with a full season of events since the start of the pandemic.
“We had a very successful three-night run of Chicago the Musical, and the Miles Band concert raised over $3,500 for the Old School Community Center in Wilmington,” adds Levy.
“We have a history of presenting many different types of Grateful Dead–related performances at the Hall over the years,” he says, but Bearly Dead has not yet graced the stage.
The doors at 14 W. Main St. in Wilmington, will open at 7:30 p.m., and the show, suitable for all ages, will begin at 8 p.m.
To buy tickets, visit bit.ly/687-bearly.
The Commons spoke with Nick Swift, guitarist and one of the founding members of Bearly Dead, by phone recently, and here is an excerpt of their conversation.
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Victoria Chertok: How did this show in Wilmington come about?
Nick Swift: It's amazing that it worked out. We met Joe Levy (of Historic Memorial Hall) through playing at his Dead of Summer Music Festival on Magic Mountain last summer. We had a great time. We played a great show, a hot and heavy one.
Dave Becker (bass, vocals) pointed out that it would be 50 years to the day that Europe '72 was released, so it was on his radar already. It's a no-brainer - we said, “We should definitely do this show.”
V.C.: You recently played eight shows on the West Coast. How was your tour?
N.S.: We played in Washington, Oregon, and California. It was definitely an expensive undertaking, but it was one we felt we needed to do.
It was something we knew would be a risk - the logistics of it all. To go do that and have a successful tour, it shows us we can do this again: start building a fan base and start growing our Barely Dead family from New England to across the country.
We had an amazing time, hanging out as friends but going to play music for an entirely fresh-faced crowd. We did have about a dozen folks - family members and friends - from the East Coast who came out to see us out West.
V.C.: Did you notice a big difference in the West Coast audiences?
N.S.: It's definitely a different flavor of the same ice cream - you know what I mean?
It's very much the same, but you have that difference between East and West coast. There was looseness to the crowds on the West Coast, but I also think that people know what to expect from us on the East Coast in terms of high-energy, up-tempo, wild show.
People come knowing that this is going to be like a party night. The West Coast people were just checking us out - they didn't know what we were going to do, they'd never heard of us, or they'd never been to a show.
But at like the same time, no matter where you are, these are all Deadheads. No matter where you are, there is this common thread through them all. That was pretty apparent.
The West Coast tour opened up doors for us. We want to start getting out there and showing up in new places. It's really rewarding when it works out.
V.C.: What's your lineup for the Nov. 5 show?
N.S.: Tyler Brooks on drums, David Becker on bass and vocals, Michael Butler on lead vocals, Nick Swift on guitar and vocals, and Jeff Vetstein on guitar and vocals, with special guest Max Chase on keys.
V.C.: Did your band already know all of the songs from Europe '72? What can we expect?
N.S.: One song we have only played once. Everything else we've had in our wheelhouse for a long time.
We have reverence for the album, which needs to be respected, but at the same time our whole approach to this music is to tear it apart and turn it inside out and do whatever we want with it.
This will be an exciting opportunity to have the script written out in terms of what songs we need to play, but it will allow us to approach them in whatever way we want to. This is a reimagining of this album.