Thirty-two-teeth in the jawbone and one great tour opener.
Dead and Company returned to the American road in a triumphant and mind-warping fashion last night in Mansfield, Massachusetts for their summer tour opener. Weir spent his Spring visiting a handful of cities with Phil Lesh while the rest of the crew had a chance to rest their bones for a bit. The night took off with a 20 minute “Shakedown Street”, which featured keyboard work from Chimenti that really skyrocketed the jam to the next level.
The first show of Fall Tour 2017 featured the boys with the debut of two new tunes from the Grateful Dead catalog (“Greatest Story Ever Told” and “Beat It Down the Line”). The first show of summer 2018 was no different. After a funkified, “Shakedown Street”, the boys thundered straight into the 80’s gem, “Alabama Getaway”, a debut for Dead and Company. Mayer pioneered the vocals on Dead and Company’s interpretation of the Hunter/Garcia barroom get-down. After sticking every lick like it was his job, well I guess it is his job, Mayer smiled to Weir and Weir took the boys into, “It’s All Over Now”. “It’s All Over Now” has always held the potential to be a 1st set maker. One particular example that comes to mind is the 9/20/1990 rendition. As the boys head into the summer it’s refreshing to see them delve deeper into the Dead’s endless catalog. With the debut of “Alabama Getaway” and “It’s All Over Now” could we see the debut of tunes such as, “Picasso Moon” or the infamous “Dayjob”? I’m ready for the surprises Weir and friends have.
After smashing the audience over the head with two rockin’ debuts Mayer led the band into the classic Grateful Dead tune, which Dead and Company always adeptly covers, “Brown Eyed Women”. I’m of the opinion that this tune evolves in a truly natural fashion every show. Mayer’s pop vocals really thrive on “Brown Eyed”. Although I may not be a huge fan of Mayer on vocals of every Dead tune, “Brown Eyed”’s, vocals were made to be played within a pop fashion, I believe. Every subtle vocal slur Mayer executes differently gives the song an entirely different attitude. Experimentation is the key to the Grateful Dead experience. A lumpy, “Tennesse Jed” followed. Although, “Tennesse Jed”, is one that usually brings the house down at Dead and Company shows this rendition had a couple of rocky moments. Regardless, the music never stops and we’re bound to hear one soon that’ll rock our souls. To close the second set the boys painted a masterpiece, “Bird Song > Loose Lucy > Bird Song”.
After a short break the boys returned to the stage for a skull shaking, “Scarlet > Fire”. Scarlet featured piercing melodic lines from Mayer which are very reminiscent of Garcia’s signature, melodic “bounce”. After opening the second set with two heavy hitters our psychedelic troubadours expanded the frontier even further with a monumental, “Althea”, which continues to grow from performance to performance. The closing, “Althea”, from summer tour 2017 was indeed one for the Dead history books and I know I can speak for everyone here at So Many Roads when I say it’s not too bold to say, “Jerry is smiling” at this one. After another monumental, “Althea”, Weir led the band into the crowd pleaser and Spring 77’ favorite, “Estimated Prophet”. “Estimated Prophet” soared as high as the western wind and skyrocketed even higher when the boys stumbled upon the space to jam on the Neal Cassady inspired, “Other One” for a while. “Estimated Prophet” poured into an absolute transcendent, “Eyes of the World”. “Eyes of the World”, in my opinion was the highlight of the show. The interplay between Chimenti and Mayer absolutely floored my ability to comprehend what my dancing feet were doing. Chimenti continues to push the band to their jamming peaks with his virtuoso and multi-perspective approach to the keys. Just when the magic was thought to be over Oteil took it upon himself to treat the crowd to a beautiful jazzified “Eyes” bass solo. Truly magical. “Eyes” was a real treat and it’s going to be a tough one to beat as the summer goes by. Billy and Mickey led the boys into, “Drums > Space” next. After a journey into the cosmos in, “Space”, Mayer took it upon himself to tease, “Yoda’s Theme” from Star Wars for a quick moment. Subtle treats like this really tie Dead and Company as a piece together. Another example of this is the subtle touch to one of Fall 2017’s Wheel with Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al”. The subtle tease to “Yoda’s Theme” bleeded into a tear-jerking, “Stella Blue”, that left Massachusetts wiping the tears away. To cheer up the mood for one last hoorah Weir walked over to Mayer and whispered to him. What could the closer be? To some’s joy and some’s dismay, “Touch of Grey” wrapped up the first night of summer 2018. As we move into the summer make sure to wear your sunscreen, watch out for some shifty lot lizards, and take note that “we will get by”.. Catch ya’ll in New Jersey!
Alabama Getaway (D&C DEBUT)
It’s All Over Now (D&C DEBUT)
Brown Eyed Women
Bird Song >
Loose Lucy >
Scarlet Begonias >
Fire on the Mountain
Other One Jam >
Eyes of the World >
Stella Blue (With “Yoda’s Theme” tease from Star Wars)
Touch of Grey