Dead and Company’s stop at SPAC in 2017 featured the mysterious magic of the Dead’s music at full force when “Looks Like Rain” collided with drizzling rain. In a manner to continue the magic, the boys continued their summer tour and returned to SPAC last night.
The night began with a classic, “Jack Straw” opener. “Jack Straw” opened up Camden night 1 in a rather slow fashion. “Jack Straw” openers are one of my favorite things under the sun, and to see the tune slowed down to the point of exhaustion in Camden was hard. (Despite the delicious Jack Straw reprise later in that show) Nonetheless, the boys picked up the pace a bit this time around at SPAC. Changes come slowly but surely.
The Pigpen Classic, “Easy Wind”, took its spot in the first set next. Mayer took the vocals and showcased his excellent bluesmanship. We saw the debut of “Hurts Me Too” at the second night of Camden and it delights me to see that the guys haven’t forgotten about ol’ Pig. Can I get a “The Rub”, please?!
Weir signaled the band, grabbed his acoustic and shifted the energy into, “Friend of the Devil”. “Friend of the Devil” is one of those Dead tunes D&C seem to nail every time. Near the band’s inception Mayer seemed to get too “machine gun” on his scales but as time has gone by he’s slowly found the essential space between the notes Jerry Garcia was king at.
Weir then pulled out, “New Minglewood Blues”, which brought a raunchy smoky feel to the scene at SPAC. Adjourned with a slide guitar and real, “crunch”, from Bobby’s guitar’s effects this tune is by no means any similar to what Garcia and the guys used to play. Some may say it’s Bobby being snooty with the tempo I say it’s transforming the song. Now.. there may be some tempo issues with “Jack Straw” but the tempo in “Minglewood” is clearly for musical transformation.
The pioneers of psychedelic tomorrow picked up the gears for, “Ship of Fools”, which featured everyone trading off vocals for a portion of the song. “Ship of Fools” was debuted in 2015 but was shelved that Fall only to be seen on the tour closer of summer 2017 onward. Glad this guy has returned back to the light!
Weir had a smirk over his face as the band went into the Weir tune “Corinna”. “Corinna” draws mixed emotions from Dead fans; I’m not too particularly fond of it. Despite this, the band found a groove.. (As much groove as you can find in this tune).. in order to get things done in a respectful manner. Alright Bobby, I’m talking to you, homie. If we can get “Corinna” is it too much to ask for a “Desolation Row” or a “Brother Esau”?
In order to redeem a less than incredible performance of “Corinna” the Barlow/Weir monolith, “Cassidy” was taken out to finish the first set. The boys took the musical narrative of “Cassidy” and took it into a deep twilight zone, which featured Jeff dazzling everyone with his Shaman keyboard playing.
After a short break the boys returned to the stage at Saratoga Performing Arts Center with a tune debuted on their 2017 fall tour, “The Weight”. “The Weight”, by the Band, was a Deadhead favorite in the 90’s onward. Jeff took a swing at the vocals and knocked it out of the park. Let Jeff sing! Lemme get a “We Can Run”!
“Truckin” followed the Band’s classic tune in a jamtacular fashion. After jamming in a rather bluesy fashion the jam shifted into, “He’s Gone”, which slowed the energy of the second set. I’m going to be totally honest here... I think “He’s Gone” is a better first set song than a second set song. Regardless, I’ll always be happy to get another one of those Dead tunes that make the music your own... (I mean, pretty much every tune, I suppose)
The vibe was picked up once again by Weir and Mayer who then began to deliver a thunderous, effect-filled, “New Speedway Boogie”. We last saw “Speedway Boogie” at D&C’s stop in Cincinnati, OH. Undoubtedly the take on the tune at SPAC surpasses that of Cincinnati.. always growing...
The Mixolydian monster and one of my favorite tunes for a second-set-get-down, “Uncle John’s Band” was taken the to the table next by Weir. Recently “Uncle John’s Band” has seen significant growth in the period of time that D&C jams on the tune. With growth comes an extension of ideas.. and so the “Supplication” jam found its way to the D&C catalog. I say this means the debut of “Lazy Lightning” right around the alley.. things are bound to get stranger.
The wild-eyed Mickey Hart and prankster Billy Kreutzmann took everyone to rhythm city in “Drums > Space” and Weir and Mayer returned everyone to reality with the reprise of, “Uncle Johns Band”. To wrap up the second set the boys finished off with a powerful display of, “Black Peter”, which grows in significance for all Heads as time grows on. To juxtapose the sad emotions of, “Black Peter”, our psychedelic hero’s capped off the second set with, “Good Lovin”. With love in everyone’s hearts and ambition true, the boys came back to the stage for a, “Touch of Grey” encore. The golden road continues tomorrow in Hartford, CT... I’ll see all you beat, burners and Brown Eyed Women there!
Friend of the Devil
Ship of Fools
He’s Gone >
New Speedway Boogie >
Uncle John’s Band >
Supplication jam >
Uncle John’s Band >
Black Peter >
Encore: Touch Of Grey