I came to these shows with little anticipation, as I was hugely turned off by the blatant commercialization inherent in last February’s name change. On a more substantive note, Warren Haynes is not in this new band, and for me personally, that decision equals a decline in musical quality. Despite these inhibitions, I managed to enjoy Tuesday night’s show quite a bit. It was Joan Osbourne’s birthday and she’s a lovely singer, plus it was nice to have some female energy in the mix. The first sent ended with a rousing “Stagger Lee” > “Mr. Charlie” and the second set was solid in most every way. “Comes A Time” out of drums was especially poignant, if not chill inducing. My experience on Thursday night was not as pleasant, in fact, I walked away after the first set. Looking on a tad more critically, it was not hard to see the gaping hole I anticipated would be there in Warren’s absence. Music is highly personal, and for this person, Warren phils the hole left by Jerry in a way no one else can. Warren, like Jerry, is able to share his immense and beautiful soul via inventive playing and expressive singing. The two rock icons also share a certain grit, that frankly is lacking from this current arrangement. To me “The Dead” is a step down from Phil + Friends. That’s not a popular opinion among Dead Heads, clearly thrilled with the prospect of summer tour, five nights at Red Rocks included. What thrills me is the news that Phil + Friends will in fact be playing more shows this fall.