Our favorite warriors of the psychedelic road had pretty big shoes to fill after a more than stellar show at Deer Creek in Noblesville, Indiana. Regardless, after trucking on to Atlanta Georgia’s Cellairis Amphitheatre Dead and Company delivered another replay-worthy show.
John Mayer advised his Instagram followers via “IG story” that a rare song would make its way to the setlist that night. Any possibilities were on the table. My personal picks were the return of “Cryptical Envelopment” played twice and then shelved in 2015 and “Box of Rain”, which was played three times then shelved after summer 2016.
“Iko Iko” opened up the show. Compared to earlier Dead and Co versions of this bouncin’ tune the guys were undoubtedly much tighter. Bobby was in howling mode for this one and took it upon himself to improvise some new verses, “See that girl dressed in orange!”. “Iko” has been played two times every year since 2015. A pretty rare opener!
“I Need A Miracle”, the Bobby blues number took center stage next. “Miracle” seemed a bit unrehearsed compared to past performances but nonetheless featured Mayer ripping on some neat-o blues. Weir signaled the band into a new song and the boys launched into, “Alabama Getaway” next. “Alabama Getaway” was debuted this summer at the first show of summer tour, Mansfield, Massachusetts; making this the second time “Alabama” has been played by D&C.
Weir and Barlow favorite, “Black Throated Wind”, took its spot in the first set next. The band, and Bobby, always seem to have fun with this one. The bluesey culmination with Bobby’s vocals peaking is always a treat. Next on the psychedelic train-ride, the vibe got funky with, “West LA Fadeaway”. Bobby’s guitar, “crunch”, really look center stage on this one. The slide guitar and classic “Bobby” chords really turned the “West LA” jam into a nitty-gritty filth of a song.. I mean that in the best way possible.. Absolute beautiful filth. The boys thundered through “Brown Eyed Women”, which featured Chimenti dazzling the audience as he always does.
To close the first the Bobby favorite, “Lost Sailor > Saint of Circumstance” was summoned. The explosion in the middle of “Sailor > Saint” is a really good zone for Mayer. This is an unpopular opinion but I believe a well placed “Sailor > Saint” is just as powerful as a “China > Rider”.
The highlight of the show came when the boys returned to the stage for their second set, though. “Here Comes Sunshine” is a tune that has surfaced more and more by D&C as the years have accumulated. Initially played by the band two times in 2015 the number rose to three in 2016 and finally five in 2017. This performance of, “Here Comes Sunshine” is the first of 2018 and I hope the number grows.
“Here Comes Sunshine” dropped into “Eyes of the World” next. The intro of “Eyes” featured mind warping bass attacks by Oteil and culminated with Chimenti taking the ship once Mayer was done blowing the collective Deadhead psyche. “Althea”, the tune that turned John Mayer onto the Dead took its spot in the second set next. The bittersweet Garcia favorite is by no doubt of the mind one of the best performed songs by Dead and Company. Bobby’s ever-changing tone matches Mayer’s lightning fast dexterity in such a sublime manner. The mutual musicianship and respectful ever-changing approach to the song makes it a perfect fit for any D&C setlist. To this day one of my favorite performances is the Wrigley Field 2017 “Althea”.
“Scarlet Begonias > Fire on the Mountain” aptly came next. Interestingly enough, “Scarlet” clocked in longer than “Fire on the Mountain”. Scarlet peaked like dynamite and left every head in attendance glowing with colors of the heart.
“Drums > Space” took everyone on a short trip to the cosmos and Weir and Mayer returned everyone back to reality with a thunderous, “All Along the Watchtower”. The Bob Dylan cover, most famously covered by Jimi Hendrix, might be the tune Mayer alluded to on his Instagram story. “Watchtower” was played twice in 2016 and twice in 2017. I caught two of these “Watchtowers”; Pittsburgh 2016 and SPAC 2017. SPAC, the later version I caught, was extremely underwhelming and I’m glad to say improvement has been made.
“Morning Dew” closed out the second set in a culminating fashion and left everyone thinking of Garcia’s legendary legacy. How lucky are we to get to carry on the weight of the greatest musical catalog of all time? Well, first we must consider how lucky we are to have the rockers that came before the Grateful Dead. With that in mind, the boys returned to the stage with, Chuck Berry’s, “Johnny B. Goode”, for an encore. Bravo! Good show!
I Need A Miracle
Black Throated Wind
West LA Fadeaway
Brown Eyed Women
Lost Sailor >
Saint of Circumstance
Here Comes Sunshine >
Eyes of the World
Scarlet Begonias >
Fire on the Mountain>
All Along the Watchtower >
Johnny B. Goode