Dead and Company finally played in New Orleans and boy, was it a show to see. John Mayer came out guns blazing; playing one of his best performances of the seven times I’ve seen them. The energy in the room was contagious and could be felt before the boys hit the stage. The set was in line with the kind of shows they have been playing for the past year or so; catering to 77’ era Dead. They opened with a funky “Feel like a stranger” before hitting into the groovy “Music Never Stopped” and then going into a powerful “Cold Rain and Snow”. Mayer used his blues influences to groove these tracks out. It truly showed that he was playing to his strengths. The entire first set was played near flawlessly. Mayer showed his ability to navigate through very intricate jams with ease. This is something he has struggled with in the past. The group then brought the mood down with an intimate “Peggy-O” and “Friend of the Devil” before New Orleans’ own George Power Jr. came out to steal the show. Porter, who made his name playing Bass for “The Meters” came out to play the classic blues cut “Smokestack Lightning” before doing “Bertha” and ending with arguably the shows best-performed song, “Sugaree”. Porters’ raspy voice and classic soul gave the song a life of its own. It was a can’t-miss performance of the show and many attendees’ favorite of the night.
The band would come out for the second set and open with the crowd favorite, “Scarlet Begonias” to “Fire on the Mountain”. Bassist Otiel Burbridge returned for the second set, picking up half of the vocals on “Fire on the Mountain”. This was followed by another crowd favorite, “Truckin” before the show would take on a much more relaxed tone. The band would bring it down for “Ship of Fools” and then “Uncle John’s Band”. The crowd would get back on its feet for “One More Saturday Night”, but by that point, the band had lost some of the crowd’s attention. They would return one final time to play the rare encore favorite, “Werewolves of London”.
If one thing is reinforced by this show, it is strength in numbers and John Mayer and GPJ proved it. Weir, as a silent leader constructing it all with a commanding presence, took control of the stage without saying a word. Because why would he need to? He is Bob Weir and he has played this stuff more than anyone. So well done and I’ll commend the band on this performance. But it takes numerous shows to maintain this momentum.
You can catch George Porter Jr. at the Maple Leaf every Tuesday. Often, he will be eating at Chiba before. I would say he made the difference in this performance.
COVER PHOTO: JamBase