After braving the elements through a torrential downpour on Thursday, Billy Strings returned to Red Rocks Amphitheatre on Friday to finish off his second-annual two-night run in Morrison, CO.
Though Billy Strings, Billy Failing, Alex Hargreaves, Jarrod Walker, and Royal Masat took the stage with clearer skies above, the band still encountered technical issues which caused a slight delay at the start of the concert. After about five minutes of fiddling around onstage (though not literally, yet), the band switched to a single mic to get the show on the road. The quintet would more than make up for the slight delay in the action, ultimately amassing a 28-song show spread across two sets in just over three hours.
“Well, howdy folks,” Strings greeted the still poncho-clad audience. “As you can see here, we kind of switched gears on ya. And in doing that, we’ve switched gears on ourselves.”
Billy Strings – “Ruby (Cousin Emmy)”, “Love Me Darlin’, Just Tonight”, If Your Hair Is Too Long, There’s Sin In Your Heart” (Bobby Davidson) [Pro-Shot] – 5/12/23
After running through the first three songs of the night on a single mic, the technical errors were sorted out and the band resumed its regular format to debut Johnny Nash‘s “I Can See Clearly Now”. As the timelessly jubilant refrain rang out and the storms of yesterday faded from the radar, the show was able to begin in earnest.
Midway through the first set, the Grammy-winning bluegrass guitarist who has rocketed to fame over the past several years gave proper recognition to the band that gave him his Red Rocks debut, Greensky Bluegrass. “Letter To Seymour” appeared at the tail end of a movement connecting “Pyramid Country”, “Must Be Seven”, and the If Sorrows Swim classic ahead of another nod to Billy’s wide-ranging influences with Led Zeppelin‘s “Four Sticks”. Pointing once again to the more docile skies, Frank Wakefield‘s “End of the Rainbow” wound down the first set which then ended with “Know It All”.
Taking the stage for his last Red Rocks stage for one last set in Morrison, Strings offered a career overview of the songs that brought him to Red Rocks in the first place alongside his recent compositions that will keep him selling out the amphitheater year after year. The improvisational behemoth “Meet Me At The Creek” took set two into the deep end before Billy showed his softer side with “Show Me The Door” and “Secrets”.
Perhaps feeling a bit cramped, Strings temporarily took over the stage as a solo performer for lonesome runs through “Catch and Release” and Rabon and Alton Delmore‘s “Brown’s Ferry Blues”. The mid-set solo interludes are becoming more frequent at Billy’s shows as of late, providing a more personal musical interaction with the boy born William Apostal, as well as setting up a jovial reunion when his four bandmates return to the stage.
Stomping through the Renewal COVID-era rocker “Heartbeat Of America”, Billy rode the angst into Pearl Jam‘s “Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town”. Showing off some of his more recent work, Billy performed “Cabin Song” for just the third time ever, taking the original into a tribute to the late Tony Rice with “Tipper” before arriving at his capstone jam of the run, “Turmoil & Tinfoil”. Following a set-closing “Katy Daley”, Billy Strings and company ended where it all began, around a single mic once again, to finish off the 2023 Red Rocks stand with “Freedom”.
Check out videos of Billy Strings at Red Rocks on Friday from Steam Powered Aeroplane. Billy’s three-night Colorado run ends tonight, May 13th, with a sold-out show at Mission Ballroom. Join the waitlist for tickets here or visit CashorTrade.
Billy Strings – “I Can See Clearly Now” (Johnny Nash) – 5/12/23
Billy Strings – “Catch and Release” – 5/12/23
Billy Strings – “Brown’s Ferry Blues” (Rabon Delmore, Alton Delmore) – 5/12/23
Billy Strings – “Cabin Song” – 5/12/23
Setlist: Billy Strings | Red Rocks Amphitheatre | Morrison, CO | 5/12/23
Set One: Ruby (Cousin Emmy) , Love Me Darlin’, Just Tonight (Red Malone, Carter Stanley)  , If Your Hair Is Too Long, There’s Sin In Your Heart (Bobby Davidson) , I Can See Clearly Now (Johnny Nash) , Red Daisy, I’ll Remember You, Love, In My Prayers (Will S. Hays), Pyramid Country  > Must Be Seven > Letter To Seymour (Greensky Bluegrass), Four Sticks (Led Zeppelin), Dust In A Baggie, My Alice, End Of The Rainbow (Frank Wakefield), Know It All
Set Two: Slow Train (Leroy Drumm, Cal Freeman), Meet Me At The Creek, Show Me The Door, Secrets, Catch and Release , Brown’s Ferry Blues (Rabon Delmore, Alton Delmore) , Heartbeat Of America, Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town (Pearl Jam), This Old World, Cabin Song > Tipper (Tony Rice) > Turmoil & Tinfoil , Katy Daley (Eamon O’Shea)
Encore: Freedom   Impromptu single mic after technical difficulties on stage LTP 2/14/20  FTP – Johnny Nash  “I Can See Clearly” (Johnny Nash) tease  Billy Strings solo  “Bathtub Gin” (Phish) tease  Band circled around single mic