PHOTO: Wells Fargo Center
Last week, I was lucky enough to attend the second night of Dead & Company’s seventeen-show fall tour. It was a sold-out concert at Madison Square Garden in NYC, and the crowd was electric. Dead & Company is the newest iteration of the Grateful Dead, featuring John Mayer, Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann, Mickey Hart, Oteil Burbridge, and Jeff Chimenti.
The show started off slow with the groovy “Hell in a Bucket”, followed by “Cold Rain and Snow” and featured Mayer on lead vocals. It didn’t take long for the band to follow the Dead’s tradition and go off the setlist for the third song of the first set. As the band began to play “Me and My Uncle”, the crowd celebrated their spontaneity. Shortly after, this choice proved costly, as Bob Weir forgot the lyrics and needed the band to hold his hand and walk him through the remainder of the classic cover.
The band didn’t hit its stride until bursting into the crowd-favorite “Brown-Eyed Women”. It was impossible to ignore how slow they played every track. For songs like “Tennessee Jed”, this pace allowed for a flourishing rendition with a powerful jam. On the other hand, songs like “Cold Rain and Snow” seemed to linger on as the band slowly chugged through it.
Source: Live for Live Music
After over a 45 minute set break, the band performed the late 70’s favorite, “Help on the way/Slipknot/Franklin’s Tower”. These three tracks set the tone for the second set catered to the Dead’s later era. Oteil Burbridge took center stage to sing the emotionally charged “China Doll” before Weir took back control during the reggae-influenced “Estimated Prophet”. The second set, like the first, seemed to lack communication necessary to jam through these improvised songs. Mayer seemed to lose awareness of his bandmates as he aggressively soloed over everyone else on “Help on the Way”. As talented as Mayer is, like Jerry, he cannot consistently deliver the magic of the Dead every night of every year.
While the show had its highs, particularly the steamy “St. Stephen” into “Not Fade Away” to close the show. However, I left with a feeling of disappointment and an awareness of the mortality of one of America’s most immortal groups.
The formation of Dead & Company has been an excellent celebration for the classic band. I’ve been at a handful of their shows now and they are usually spectacular. Unfortunately, this one let me down. I hope they warm up and prepare to bring a magical performance to their show in NOLA on December 5th. To purchase tickets and concert information click here.
Source: Dead and Co.
Let me know if you’ll be attending in the comments below.
COVER PHOTO: Relix