Bobby Weir looked spooked as he approached the mic to tell Camden that himself and the rest of the band would return to the stage shortly after news of incoming thunderstorms and lightning. Unfortunately the return of the our favorite heady bois did not come in the presence of torrential storms. One buddy of mine had to run through ankle deep water to get back to his car! Regardless, the music never stopped and the tunes will continue this Monday at Riverbend Music Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. Before things got scary the boys played a whole set of absolutely transcendent music. I may get a lot of heat for this one but the first night of Camden was alright for me. The transition into Cold Rain and Snow, the Jack Straw reprise was brilliant, Jack-A-Roe was an incredible unexpected bustout, and the second set was filled with monoliths. However, everything to me just looked really good on paper. The jam machines like Dark Star could’ve had much more potential. Does that mean it wasn’t a good show? NO! It just wasn’t the best show. I’ve seen about 30 Dead and Company shows and I know the boys can get tighter. And they did tonight in their return to Camden. All the love.
The night kicked off with a pretty up tempo, “Hell In a Bucket”. Of course the tempo isn’t mirrored to an 80s Bobby but it is surely faster than years past. This is a wonderful sign for this summer and I’m absolutely elated for Cincinnati.
Next came a bustout TRULY out of left field. Like, holy SHIT! Pigpen’s blues ballad, “Hurts Me Too” made its debut in a stunning fashion. Last played by the Grateful Dead 5/24/72 at the Lyceum in London and first played 5/19/66 at the Avalon Ballroom in San Fran, “Hurts Me Too”, is a song that really tugs the heartstrings. Mayer drove the ship with his phenomenal blues skills and brought the house down. How can y'all hate this guy? He truly looks like he loves playing the music we all love and speaking for myself I love hearing it! This one is going to be a chaser for the ages for all the Pigpen fans out there.
Things heated up even more with a shaking, “Cumberland Blues”. Back on fall tour 2017 the boys had a little trouble starting this bluegrass-styled, oddly-timed, Jerry classic. However in Camden the boys went into it with great ferocity. Jeff ripped the piano and Mayer returned a smile to his friend. Heartwarming and wholesome.
To give a more somber tone to the night, “Ship of Fools” was summoned, which featured the boys trading off vocals masterfully. “Ramble on Rose” came next with fantastic interplay between Weir and Mayer, who appeared to be having an absolutely wonderful time. You know when Bobby is pointing his finger up in the air between rests in the music to give emphasis to lyrics he’s having a great time.
The Band’s, “The Weight”, debuted by Dead and Company on their fall 2017 tour came next which featured more vocal trade-offs and a line taken by Jeff. Let Jeff sing! Bobby finished off the tune with a high-pitched falsetto voice that left the crowd in all smiles. The set wrapped up with a tasy “Music Never Stopped > Easy Answers”. Good times!
With thunderstorms in the horizon and lightning impending the boys returned to the stage for their second set. To start things off Bobby signaled the band into, “Playing in the Band”. The guys really opened up the jam for this one. To wrap up the night, “Playin” melted into “Uncle John’s Band”. Things were just getting off the walls when the torrential thunderstorm forced the band to vacate the stage.. Well, you know what they say, walk me out in the cold rain and snow, huh?
Hell in a Bucket
It Hurts Me Too
Ship of Fools
Ramble on Rose
Music Never Stopped >
Playin’ in the Band
Uncle John’s Band
(Impromptu Looks Like Rain by Mother Nature)