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Pop : Weir, Wasserman: An Eclectic Set

Grateful Dead singer and guitarist Bob Weir stood at center stage at the Raymond Theatre in Pasadena on Saturday and sang-shouted his way through a set of mostly oldies to an adoring crowd of Deadheads out for a quick fix until the real thing rolls into town again.

Meanwhile, hunched over his stand-up bass, half in and half out of the spotlight, an unassuming-looking Rob Wasserman quietly performed mini-miracles on his instrument.

Despite the audience’s attention to Weir, the eclectic set’s songs were carefully chosen to showcase Wasserman’s bass, from the rather obvious “Fever” to the more obscure Bobby Darin oldie “Artificial Flowers” and Bob Dylan’s “When I Paint My Masterpiece.” And when Wasserman was given a few minutes to solo toward the end of the show, his flamboyant playing finally drew the notice it deserves.

Weir, whose guitar playing hit as many peaks as his singing did valleys, has an ear for unusual talent. Unbilled opener Susan James, who joined the headliners on mandolin for two numbers, coaxed noises from almost every inch of her acoustic guitar, transforming traditional-style folk songs into strange, alluring elegies.

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