Dead & Company, the Grateful Dead spinoff band featuring Bill Kreutzmann (drums), Mickey Hart (drums), and Bob Weir (rhythm guitar/vocals) alongside John Mayer (lead guitar/vocals), Oteil Burbridge (bass/vocals), and Jeff Chimenti (keyboards/vocals) completed their 2022 summer tour back in mid-July. The west-to-east trek ran for 19 shows across the U.S. over five weeks, starting on June 11th in Los Angeles and concluding on July 16th in New York City. The shows continued Dead & Company’s established practice of playing two sets of material from the Grateful Dead’s repertoire, focusing heavily on original songs co-written by late lead guitarist/vocalist Jerry Garcia and the late lyricist Robert Hunter and Weir’s collaborations with the late lyricist John Perry Barlow but also sourcing from the lengthy list of songs covered by the Grateful Dead.
“I look at set one as still wearing your work attire. Set two, the assless chaps come out.” –John Mayer, to Dead Air co-hosts Gary Lambert and David Gans
While this tour was shorter than last year’s 31-show, three-leg tour that lasted two and a half months, it was still intense enough to wipe us out for a while after it was over. Now that we’ve recovered, re-watched, re-listened and re-read our thick stack of notes and write-ups—and before we shift our attention to Dead & Company’s final tour next year—here’s our complete 2022 recap. As usual, it includes some stats, fun facts, and a Top Shows section at the end. [Note: To save space we’ve abbreviated Dead & Company and Grateful Dead as “D&C” and “GD” in many instances from here on out].
CALIFORNIA & COLORADO
The last-minute cancellation of two Playing in the Sand weekends in Mexico this past January meant the tour’s opening show on June 11th at the expansive Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles picked up a just a few miles from where D&C had concluded their work in 2021, with three sold-out shows at the Hollywood Bowl over Halloween weekend. They then returned to Shoreline Amphitheatre, their “home” venue, for a pair of weeknight shows on June 13th and 14th.
Los Angeles, CA (Dodger Stadium)
Attendance was perhaps a little lighter than expected at Dodger Stadium, where attendees had plenty of room to spread out and dance after negotiating the venue’s strict entry protocols. The weather cooperated too, making for a cool, relaxed, spacious vibe during a solid opening night. The show and the tour started with a warmup version of “Let the Good Times Roll” and the ensuing “Playing in the Band” went surprisingly deep and quickly sucked in the crowd. After the second set started with Mayer’s signature Dead & Company tune “Althea”, the band continued 2021’s tradition of inserting songs between the classic pairing of “Scarlet Begonias” and “Fire on the Mountain”. On this night the band chose a classic pairing of its own, “China Cat Sunflower” and “I Know You Rider”, making for a “Scarlet>China>Rider>Fire” pre-“Drums” in Deadhead shorthand.
Following “Space”, they debuted two songs from the Grateful Dead’s ‘80s repertoire as a cover of Traffic’s “Dear Mr. Fantasy” segued into the closing section of The Beatles’ “Hey Jude”, mirroring the pairing formerly performed by the late Brent Mydland with the Grateful Dead. These marked the first two selections from Mydland’s column of the GD’s live catalog to make the transition into Dead & Company’s rotation. The encore was the tour’s sole version of Warren Zevon‘s “Werewolves of London”, a bit of unfinished business from last Halloween’s show when the song was cut due to curfew constraints, with Chimenti smoothly interpolating Billy Powell’s piano figures from the Lynyrd Skynyrd classic “Sweet Home Alabama”.
Mountain View, CA (Shoreline Amphitheatre)
The first of two Shoreline Amphitheatre shows kicked off with a bang in the form of a 30-minute burst of ‘60s psychedelia with “St. Stephen” and “The Eleven”, with the latter making its first appearance in a D&C first set. A later highlight was one of the tour’s two versions of “Crazy Fingers”. After the second set’s opening salvo of “Deal”, “Dark Star”, and “El Paso”, Dead & Company unveiled the surprising and welcome debut of “Sing Me Back Home”, the Merle Haggard song performed by the Grateful Dead in 1971 and 1972 as a slow, dramatic ballad. The D&C version stuck more closely to the tempo of Haggard’s version, and it segued into the second, much more adventurous half of “Dark Star,” one of the set’s two highlights along with the “Cumberland Blues” that emerged from “Space”.
The second Shoreline show maintained the early-tour momentum, opening with a pair of powerful songs for a second consecutive night with “Cassidy” and “Bird Song”. The first set also contained the tour’s solitary version of Bob Dylan’s “When I Paint My Masterpiece”, and a nice pairing of “Here Comes Sunshine” and “U.S. Blues” wrapped up the first set. The second set kicked off with “Cold Rain & Snow” for the first time at a Dead & Company show (this was a relative rarity with the Grateful Dead too, and it made us think of our favorite one from 10/12/84 in Augusta), and the classic sequence of “Estimated Prophet” and “Eyes of the World” that followed made us think back to Irvine Meadows in 1986. Further highlights came from the in-our-own-backyard version of “Standing on the Moon” and the delicate “Brokedown Palace” encore.
Boulder, CO (Folsom Field)
It’s no longer a secret that Boulder’s Folsom Field has evolved into the place to be on a Dead & Company tour, with apologies to Red Rocks, The Gorge, and a couple of Mexican beach resorts. Boulder is a college town 30 miles outside Denver, nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and able to host and handle the madness with ease. This was the fifth two-night run D&C have played there over their six summer tours. Since school was back in session and the University of Colorado’s Buffaloes were using the football stadium for its primary purpose when Dead & Company tour reached Colorado last summer, their annual stop shifted to Fiddler’s Green. The 2022 return to Folsom came as a welcome return to form.
After a late-afternoon thunderstorm passed over the stadium without actually breaking, D&C took the stage on June 17th and delivered a sprawling 80-minute opening set. Early highlights came from the “New Speedway Boogie” that segued into “Smokestack Lightning,” with the latter an impromptu call by Weir that was the not just the only version of the tour, but was also the first D&C performance of the song since 2019. Later in the set Burbridge delivered a beautiful version of the rarely-played “High Time” followed by a magnificent version of the also rarely-played Weir/Barlow classic “Let It Grow.” All things considered, first sets don’t get much better than this one. The second set found Mayer in fine form on opening “Sugaree” and on “Althea” a few songs later, but the set’s peak came via a 40-minute journey on “The Other One”, its two verses separated by “Drums” and “Space”. Burbridge making an effective change-up by saving the song’s dramatic “rumble” bass introduction for ahead of its second verse—half an hour after the song started.
June 17th also happened to be the 50th anniversary of Grateful Dead founding member and lead vocalist/keyboardist Ron “Pigpen” McKernan’s last show with the band (6/17/72), and that detail didn’t go unnoticed by set list architect Matt Busch, who ensured that three Pigpen-sung classics—“Good Lovin’,” “Mr. Charlie” and “Turn On Your Lovelight”—were all included in the set list before the aforementioned “Smokestack Lightning” raised the number to four.
The second Boulder show on June 18th was preceded by unusual circumstances during the day. Because vending was not permitted onsite at the Folsom Field parking lots or the immediate vicinity of the stadium, the tour’s traveling vendors set up shop during the day down the hill in town, in a parking lot that usually hosts a farmers market. Word spread quickly, and Deadheads turned up and spent money like it was the last payday before Christmas, with longtime vendor Steve Dubinsky from Grateful Sweats telling us a week later in Chicago that he made more sales on that one day in downtown Boulder than he’d normally make in two days outside Folsom Field. As far the actual show that night? We’ll talk about it in more detail in the Top Shows section at the end.
MISSOURI & OHIO
Maryland Heights, MO (Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre)
From Boulder the band traveled 850 miles east on I-70 for a show at the St. Louis area’s Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre (a.k.a. Riverport) on June 21st. Weather-wise this would be the hottest day of the tour, with temperatures approaching 100 degrees. Fortunately, the band rose to the occasion and deliver a show that was hot enough to save for the Top Shows section at the end.
Cincinnati, OH (Riverbend Music Center)
After another 360 miles due east on the driver’s choice of I-64 and I-71 or I-70 and 1-74, the tour landed at Cincinnati’s Riverbend Amphitheatre on the banks of the Ohio River on June 22nd. After the doors were delayed by an hour due to an afternoon thunderstorm, the band’s first set started at 7:15 p.m. and was highlighted by one of the tour’s two versions of “Iko Iko”, its lone “Ship of Fools”, and Mayer’s take on “Here Comes Sunshine”.
In an unexpected turn of events during the set break, Bill Kreutzmann took to social media to announce that he was sitting out the second set due to a pulled shoulder muscle. Enter drummer Jay Lane, who filled in for Kreutzmann on short notice during six shows in 2021. Lane seamlessly took over for Kreutzmann for the rest of the night, and the first song with him was one of the tour’s highlights: a version of “Deal” that carried on for 19 minutes. Unless there’s some crazed Jerry Garcia Band version that we don’t know about, we think this is the longest version of “Deal” by anyone in the song’s 51-year history. Other second-set highlights came from Weir’s “Looks Like Rain”, the only “I Need a Miracle” of the tour, and the geographically appropriate encore of “Black Muddy River”.
TOUR NEWS, PART 1: HEADLINES
Bill Me Now, Bill Me Later
As much fun as this tour was, Bill Kreutzmann’s health issues (pulled muscle, back issues and a positive COVID test) forced him to miss some or all of 11 straight shows and remained an ongoing concern. This didn’t come as a complete surprise as health issues caused Kreutzmann to miss five shows and part of a sixth last year during the fall leg of Dead & Company’s 2021 tour, and speculation that something might be up started when GD alumni Weir, Hart, and Kreutzmann took a second, unexplained bow after the usual full-band bow at the conclusion of the second Boulder show. The “Bill is retiring” rumors that ensued were shot down days later by Bill the Drummer himself, and while he was sidelined he remained active on social media to let everyone know he was still out there. Fortunately, Kreutzmann made a full recovery in time to play the tour’s final two shows in New York City.
The other concerning moment of the tour took place on July 6th, the day Dead & Company’s fifth planned visit to the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs, NY. At around 3:30 pm on the day of the show the band announced that the show was canceled due to “unforeseen circumstances” and refunds were forthcoming. Soon after, John Mayer posted an announcement revealing that his father had suffered a heart attack in New York City and that he had gone to be with him that night. Fortunately, he was also able to share that the 94-year-old Richard Mayer had survived and was resting comfortably.
Mr. Sandberg, Bring Me A Dream
On a much more positive note, Oteil Burbridge was his usual, beaming self in Los Angeles on opening night, and at least part of that came from the positive debut of his new Sandberg 6-string bass. Not only was its decidedly thicker tone prominent in the mix throughout the evening, but Burbridge took to his social media accounts the following day to share that the bass only weighs 7.7 pounds. That’s light for any 6-string bass, and it’s half the weight of his 14-pound “Ankh” bass (his mainstay since June 2018 at The Gorge) and has helped to alleviate the back problems that have plagued him over the last couple of years.
The following day, Burbridge treated his Instagram Stories viewers to a live, pre-show tour of the backstage area at Shoreline Amphitheatre, complete with its stage props from the Bill Graham era. However, the ensuing visit to the wings of the stage generated a literal laugh-out-loud moment after Burbridge unwittingly backed into the path of a working equipment crew, who made sure to let him know all about it right then and there. Later in the tour, Burbridge also spoke at greater length about the Sandberg bass and many other things during his Dead Air interview that ran on July 8th.
Dead Air Returns
Another welcome continuation from Dead & Company shows in 2021 was that the band’s nugs.net livestreams once again featured the live Dead Air program. Hosted by Tales From the Golden Road co-hosts Gary Lambert and David Gans, the program opened each webcast prior to the start of each show and continued during setbreak with a quick recap of early highlights and an interview with a prominent guest from the Grateful Dead universe. While the four interview segments with Dead & Company band members Bob Weir, Oteil Burbridge, Jeff Chimenti and John Mayer were pre-recorded out of necessity, everyone else’s interviews were live. This year’s guests included Lonnie Frazier (Box Of Rain film), G. Brown (Denver Post, Colorado Music Experience), Allan Arkush (film director), Jay Blakesberg (photographer), Andy Logan (Grateful Guitars), Wavy Gravy (Hog Farm), Bob Bralove (GD sound engineer), Nels Cline (Wilco), and Denise Kaufman (Ace of Cups), along with return guests Jesse Jarnow (Good Ol’ Grateful Deadcast), David Lemieux (GD Legacy Manager), Brad Serling (nugs.net), Mark Pinkus (Rhino Records), Cameron Sears (Rex Foundation), and Andy Bernstein (HeadCount).
“How About That, David?”
“Althea” has been one of John Mayer’s signature songs to perform with Dead & Company for years, but due to an early, accidental switch of two words in the lyrics that run on the band’s teleprompters, the lyric “Can’t talk to you without talking to me,” was written as “Can’t talk to me without talking to you.” Mayer sang it this way until Dead Air co-host David Gans pointed it out to Mayer after the tour’s opening night in Los Angeles. When the band played the song the following weekend in Boulder, Mayer finally sang the correct lyrics and added in a “How about that, David?” along with it, and the following day Mayer emailed Gans to let him know the teleprompter lyrics had been corrected and that the lyric will be sung correctly going forward.
ILLINOIS, INDIANA & MICHIGAN
Chicago, IL (Wrigley Field)
Dead & Company made their fourth visit to Chicago’s Wrigley Field for a pair of weekend shows, cementing this venue’s status as Dead & Company’s go-to “big venue” in the northern Midwest. Although there were two-show runs at Alpine Valley Music Theatre 88 miles to the north in East Troy, WI in 2016 and 2018, it’s been all Wrigley since 2019, likely because it’s a more convenient venue for fly-ins and non-Wisconsinites.
The first show took place on June 24th, the same day that the U.S. Supreme Court handed down the Dobbs decision that overturned Roe v. Wade and 50 years of federal protection of reproductive rights. It was a heavy day but the band rose to the occasion, and we’ll talk about this show in more detail in the Top Shows section at the end of the article.
The second show on June 25th got off to an excellent start with a 3-song, 40-minute segment of “Scarlet Begonias”, “The Wheel”, and “New Speedway Boogie”, and the first set also contained the tour’s only version of “Dancing in the Street”. The second set contained two early surprises, with “Casey Jones” kicking off a D&C second set for the first time and “Ramble On Rose” making its first appearance of any kind in a D&C second set before robust “Help On The Way > Slipknot > Franklin’s Tower” trio. After toying with the strains of Jimi Hendrix’s “Third Stone From the Sun” out of “Space”, the band opted to embed “Fire on the Mountain” between ballad “The Days Between” and set-closer “One More Saturday Night” in another notable change-up. The band capped off the night and the weekend with a two-song encore of “Brokedown Palace” and the lone “Touch of Grey” on the tour.
Noblesville, IN (Deer Creek)
The venue still called Deer Creek by many (but currently known as the Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center) has remained a favorite stop for Grateful Dead music since opening in 1989, and it hosted its fifth Dead & Company show on June 28th. The show kicked off with the great choice of “Viola Lee Blues” followed by the tour’s exclusive versions of “Loose Lucy” and “Row Jimmy”. The first verse of “The Other One” was the set’s highlight. While the set was definitely enjoyable, a slower vibe often prevailed, and it would continue through much of the second set. The “Terrapin Station” was the clear, majestic highlight, but only the faster sections of “Saint of Circumstance” approached an “upbeat, rocking music” classification during the entire pre-“Drums” segment of the show. The set took an upward turn during its homestretch, with post-“Space” appearances of the second verse of “The Other One” and set-closer “Turn on Your Lovelight”, which made for a strong finish before the encore of the tour’s only version of “The Weight.” This was a well-played show whose trajectory was affected by the combination of continuous threads of slower songs played at slower tempos.
Clarkston, MI (Pine Knob Music Theatre)
The venue once again known as Pine Knob Music Theatre hosted its second Dead & Company show on June 29th. It’s a fine venue 40 miles north of Detroit that’s been a reliable stop for Deadheads since the 1980s, but this was the first time Dead & Company played the venue since its initial summer tour in 2016. The long wait was worth it, however, as the band delivered a stellar show that we’ll talk about in more detail in the Top Shows section at the end of this article.
TOUR NEWS, PART 2: SONG STATISTICS
Debuts & Breakouts
During the second half of the Grateful Dead’s career, the band carried on an unofficial tradition at the beginning of each year (and often each tour) by introducing a few new songs into the live repertoire or bringing back a long-dormant song or two from earlier eras. The practice became wildly popular with setlist-obsessed Deadheads, and Dead & Company carried on this tradition. This year, all the debuts came during the first half of the tour: the combination of Traffic’s “Dear Mr. Fantasy” and the vocal coda of The Beatles’ “Hey Jude” turned up on the tour’s opening night in Los Angeles and made four subsequent appearances, all at weekend stadium shows. An updated version of Merle Haggard & The Strangers’ 1968 hit “Sing Me Back Home” debuted at the tour’s second show in Mountain View, CA two nights later and made two further appearances in Chicago and Bethel. Three shows later, the maiden voyage of the 1988 Garcia/Hunter original “Foolish Heart” debuted in Boulder, with follow-up performances at Noblesville and Burgettstown. The biggest surprise of the tour, however, happened six shows later on June 29th in Clarkston, when Weir ad-libbed the vocals to “Supplication” during the jam in “Uncle John’s Band”, with surprised band members winging it and falling in behind him. While “Supplication” is known to turn up in Bobby Weir & Wolf Bros sets from time to time, we’d love to see this happen again with Dead & Company—maybe with “Lazy Lightning” too, while we’re at it.
There were also three breakouts over the space of the tour, which we define in 2022 as a song that Dead & Company hadn’t played since January of 2020. The only one that was planned ahead of time was Mayer’s take on “Box of Rain” to kick off the second set in Missouri. That one was the first version since the “thunderstorm show” in Boulder on July 5th, 2019.
The other two 2022 breakouts were onstage audibles called by Weir. For the first, he directed “New Speedway Boogie” smoothly into Howlin’ Wolf’s “Smokestack Lightning” on June 17th in Boulder for the first time since November 1st, 2019 at Madison Square Garden. For the other, on the tour’s closing night at New York’s Citi Field, Weir herded the outro jam of “Truckin’” into Koko Taylor’s “Wang Dang Doodle” for the first time since the June 7th, 2017 in Salt Lake City.
Most Commonly Played Songs & One-Offs
Aside from the “Drums” and “Space” segments that are permanent fixtures in the second set, “Brown-Eyed Women” was the most-played song of the tour, appearing six times over the tour’s 19 shows, with every appearance coming at a weekend stadium gig. Just behind it was a 12-way tie for second place, with each of the following songs played five times each: “Althea”, “Deal”, “Terrapin Station”, “Jack Straw”, “Playing in the Band”, “China Cat Sunflower”, “I Know You Rider”, “Dear Mr. Fantasy”, “Hey Jude”, “Uncle Johns Band”, “Scarlet Begonia”, and “Franklin’s Tower”.
On the other end of the scale, Dead & Company played 33 different songs a single time during the tour, and that’s not including the “Jam” that some set list-keepers placed between “Sugaree” and “Truckin’” on June 17th in Boulder. Only two shows on the tour didn’t contain any of the one-offs (Mountain View on June 13th and New York City on July 15th), while the Bethel Woods show on July 1st contained five of them, the Maryland Heights show on June 21st had four, and the Clarkston show on June 29th had three.
UPSTATE NEW YORK, MASSACHUSETTS, & CONNECTICUT
Bethel, NY (Bethel Woods Center for the Arts)
Bethel Woods Center for the Arts is at the top of the list of “shed” venues in the U.S., its idyllic, lush setting in the Catskills located on the site of the 1969 Woodstock and Art Fair . They’ve even built the Museum at Bethel Woods on the site, a year-round museum that provides a comprehensive look at the festival and the decade leading up to it, which serves as a perfect activity for those who arrive early on show days. If Dead & Company were to ever consider a longer summer residency at an east-coast shed, we think this might be the place to do it. Dead & Company played their second-ever show there on July 1st, and for the second straight year it landed in our Top Shows section at the end of the article.
Foxborough, MA (Gillette Stadium)
Dead & Company’s July 2nd show at the cavernous Gillette Stadium 30 miles outside Boston had an unusual vibe from the beginning following a pre-show decision to upgrade all tickets sold in the club and upper levels to lower-level seats. The empty decks of seats were an unusual sight, and a decidedly chill but upbeat mood prevailed as the band opened a show with “Cumberland Blues” for the first time.
As the band finished the second song, “Bertha”, Mother Nature arrived in the form of a torrential thunderstorm. The show was halted, announcements to clear the field were made, and people quickly crowded into the concourses to wait it out safely for a full hour until the band got the all-clear to resume playing. Aside from cutting one song from the pre-written setlist (“Cassidy”) the band played the rest of the originally planned show straight through without a break. The restart commenced with “Good Lovin’” and a welcome version of “Crazy Fingers” and later peaks came via the long-effective pairing of “Estimated Prophet” and “Eyes of the World” and a set-closing “Morning Dew”. A final, touching highlight was the first song of the encore: the tour’s solitary performance of Bob Dylan’s “Knocking on Heaven’s Door”, during which a montage of black & white photos of deceased members the Grateful Dead family played on the video screens.
Hartford, CT (Xfinity Theatre)
Remember how the Grateful Dead used to come to Connecticut throughout the 1980s and play great shows that often flew under the radar in comparison to shows in neighboring Massachusetts and New York? Well, history repeated itself in 2022 during Dead & Company’s tour, and we’ll go into more detail about the July 5th show at Hartford’s Xfinity Theatre in the Top Shows section at the end of the article.
VIRGINIA, PENNSYLVANIA & NYC
Bristow, VA (Jiffy Lube Live)
We have to admit that even after 12 years, “Jiffy Lube Live” still sounds like a weird name for a venue. But after the cancelled show in Saratoga Springs two days earlier, we were happy to see the tour resume at this reliable shed in Bristow, Virginia on July 8th. The band kicked off the first set with three songs that meant a little something in light of the recent run of decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington DC, 35 miles to the east: “Man Smart, Woman Smarter”, “New Speedway Boogie”, and “It Hurts Me Too”, followed immediately by the tour’s sole performance of “Peggy-O”. Two songs later the final, most overt social justice statement of the night came via “Throwing Stones”, followed by a surprise version of “Don’t Ease Me In” to close the first half.
The second set, excluding only the “Black Muddy River” encore, could have been the set list a Grateful Dead show from the early 1980s, complete with a “Sugaree” opener, the best version of “Playing In The Band” of the tour, and a post-“Space” closing sequence of “Going Down The Road Feeling Bad”, “Stella Blue”, and “Turn On Your Love Light”. The lively Friday revelers cheered and sang along in all the right places, serving as a sort of seventh instrument all evening before scampering back to their cars when a rainstorm blew in as the show ended.
Philadelphia, PA (Citizens Bank Park)
Dead & Company took Saturday night off before playing the only Sunday show of the tour on July 10th at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. As it turned out, all the folks who wore their “Never Miss a Sunday Show” t-shirts that day were correct, because we’ll be talking about this one in the Top Shows section at the end of the article.
Burgettstown, PA (The Pavilion at Star Lake)
Dead & Company’s first visit to the Pittsburgh area since 2017 took place on a steamy, humid July 13th at The Pavilion at Star Lake, where the band took the stage with the sun still shining directly into their faces. A welcome “Dire Wolf” came early, and the set’s highlights included an excellent version of “They Love Each Other” followed by the sole performance of “West L.A. Fadeaway” during the tour. While the set was well-played, the mostly slower material made for a more relaxed set.
After the second set kicked off with “Big Railroad Blues” in the leadoff spot for the first time, a run of well-chosen but slowly delivered songs made for a 75-minute journey with a chill-and-appreciate feel with a standout version of “He’s Gone” at the center of a subtle journey that included “Dark Star”, “Eyes Of The World” ,“Drums”, and “Space”. The “Hell in a Bucket” that launched out of “Space” was a much-needed energy boost and the second set’s highlight. The tour’s only version of The Beatles’ “Dear Prudence”, a “U.S. Blues” set-closer, and a graceful “Ripple” encore brought the show to a close. Also, the seriously old-school poster by Matt Leunig for this show was a favorite from the tour.
New York, NY (Citi Field)
Dead & Company’s summer tour concluded with a pair of weekend shows at New York’s Citi Field in Queens, and they were preceded with a rather well-timed announcement of the upcoming Grateful Dead’s 1981-83 Madison Square Garden 17-CD In and Out of the Garden box set.
The first show on July 15th started out with something big and good: after missing the previous six shows, Bill Kreutzmann returned to his drummer’s throne to a huge ovation, and the energy surge from his presence continued through the opening trip of “Bertha”, “Mississippi Half-Step”, and “Shakedown Street”. The video feed frequently cut to Kreutzmann during these songs, and he saluted the crowd with a wave of a drumstick in the middle of “Shakedown” after he realized that all those cheers were actually for him. The second set effortlessly surfed from era to era in the Grateful Dead’s catalog, with Mayer leading off with 1980’s “Althea” before jumping to the OG mid-60s era with “Viola Lee Blues”, shifting to 1977 for “Terrapin Station”, and back landing back in 1968 for “China Cat Sunflower”. On the far side of “Space”, the band performed the tour’s only “continuous” version of “The Other One” ahead of 1989 ballad “Standing On The Moon”. “Sugar Magnolia”, a relic of 1970, made its way into the encore slot as a bonus. Welcome back, Bill the Drummer.
That brings us to the second New York show on July 16th, the summer outing’s final night. It has become almost predictable that Dead & Company will stack the set list and go for broke on the last night of a tour—it has now happened for the fifth consecutive time. We’ll talk about it in the Top Shows section at the end of this piece.
TOUR NEWS, PART 3: FUN FACTS
$658,000 Raised For Charity
During the tour, Dead & Company raised $658,000 for nonprofit voter registration organization HeadCount, REVERB and over a dozen other charities selected by the band on Participation Row. This was made possible by an extended auction that lasted for the tour’s duration, with attendees at each show able to place bids at the Participation Row production in the concourse at each venue. The hottest item turned out to be the Ocean Turquoise D’Angelico Premier SS Guitar that was played onstage by Weir at a couple of shows on the tour, which landed a winning bid of $300,000 on its own. To learn more about who they are and what they do, and to register to vote, go to HeadCount’s website.
Cats Under The Stars
For those of you who are into the technical aspects of Dead & Company’s live shows, the big development for Dead & Company in 2022 was their use of the brand-new PANTHER line array PA, sourced from Meyer Sound in conjunction with UltraSound. Click on the hyperlinks above if you want to see how and why the band’s sound was so good in 2022. This also seems like the right time to acknowledge the outstanding efforts of the band’s road crew, including but not limited to front of house sound engineer Derek Featherstone and lighting director Chris Ragan from Raygun Designs.
Baseball-loving Deadheads might have noticed that all four of the Major League Baseball stadiums that hosted shows on the 2022 Summer Tour are home to National League Teams: the Los Angeles Dodgers (Dodger Stadium), the Chicago Cubs (Wrigley Field), the Philadelphia Phillies (Citizens Bank Park), and the New York Mets (Citi Field). Meanwhile, the only American League ballpark that has ever hosted Dead & Company shows is still Boston’s Fenway Park, where two-show runs took place in 2017 and 2018.
Tonight We’re Gonna Party Likes It’s One Hundred Ninety-Nine
If the Saratoga Springs show scheduled for July 6th hadn’t been canceled, the tour’s final night at Citi Field would have been the band’s 200th show. Since we didn’t feel like waiting until the band’s 200th show at Playing In The Sand in January 2023, we compiled a list of the eight venues that Dead & Company have played five times or more since the band’s inception.
10 – Folsom Field – Boulder, CO
9 – Citi Field – New York, NY
9 – Shoreline Amphitheatre – Mountain View, CA
8 – Wrigley Field – Chicago, IL
7 – Madison Square Garden – New York, NY
7 – Hollywood Bowl – Los Angeles, CA
6 – Barcelo Maya – Quintana Roo, Mexico
5 – Ruoff Home Mortgage Center (Deer Creek) – Noblesville, IN
Saratoga Performing Arts Center would have also made this list with its fifth show if this year’s show there hadn’t been canceled, and Mexico’s Moon Palace resort would actually be tied for second place with nine shows overall if the two scheduled Playing in the Sand weekends had taken place as planned this past January. Also, in case you’re wondering, the current total of 199 shows includes the pop-up show at the Fillmore Auditorium in 2016 and the low-key benefit gig in the Hollywood Hills in 2018, but it does not include the band’s three TV appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, respectively.
We’re happy to admit that this was a slightly tougher tour from which to pick out five Top Shows. Dead & Company played at a consistently high level throughout their five weeks on the road this summer, and there were no real “off nights.” While there was also no clear “best show of the tour,” there were several nights that stood out from the pack. So, without further ado, here are our Top Five shows and our three Honorable Mentions of the 2022 Summer Tour, with each list running in chronological order.
Not only did the rain hold off at the last minute for a second straight day at what’s now Dead & Company’s signature venue, but this show got off to a great start when five of the first six songs were quickly identified as favorites from The Grateful Dead’s Europe ’72 live album, with the opening trio of “China Cat > Rider” and “He’s Gone” preceding “Brown Eyed Women”. The D&C debut of “Foolish Heart” followed, but “It Hurts Me Too” continued the Europe ‘72 party for one more song.
The second set was a high-energy affair that only got better as it progressed, with highlights coming from a surging “Help On The Way > Slipknot > Franklin’s Tower” trio and the tour’s only version of Miles Davis’s “Milestones” coming out of “Space”. Just when you may have thought the set-closing “Morning Dew” would be the night’s last big moment, an immense “Terrapin Station” appeared in the encore slot, just before the expected “One More Saturday Night”. No two ways about it: there’s something about both Folsom Field and Boulder that consistently brings out the best in Dead & Company and Deadheads alike.
A strong version of “Feel Like a Stranger” provided early notice that this could end up being a hot one at Pine Knob Music Theatre. The tour’s sole version of “Minglewood Blues” followed two songs later before mid-set versions of “China Doll” and “Jack Straw” and a lengthy “Bird Song” closed the set.
The second set went even further. It started with “Here Comes Sunshine,” and two songs later during lengthy jam in “Uncle John’s Band”, Weir would, out of nowhere, spring the tour’s biggest surprise on his bandmates and crowd alike by singing the lyrics to his 1970s classic “Supplication”. Chimenti subsequently revealed that Weir “just came out of left field with that one” during his Dead Air interview. Following a wide-ranging “China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider” pairing, the set got another major jolt when sidelined drummer Bill Kreutzmann took the stage to replace Jay Lane for the first time that evening as “Drums” started. For the only time on the tour, this segment was played by just Billy and Mickey, and the first half of their duet recalled many early-to-mid-80’s Grateful Dead “Drums” segments, before electronic or synthesized drums were added to their arsenal. Kreutzmann stayed onstage for the remainder of the show, which included the tour’s sole version of Miles Davis’ “A Love Supreme” and a late-set “Wharf Rat”. The ideal summertime anthem of “U.S. Blues” closed the set before a “Ripple” encore provided a gentle landing. This one had standout performances and a great set list, but the surprise appearances of Kreutzmann and “Supplication” set this one apart.
Dead & Company had a tough act to follow at Bethel Woods this year after their Woodstock “do-over” set at the venue in 2021, but they pulled it off. Following a brief rainstorm, the band kicked this one off hard with a show-opening “Deal” followed by a definitive D&C version of “Shakedown Street” that contained several peaks and lasted for 19 minutes and contained the traditional reprise and ending that they normally skip. This was followed by, count ‘em, five straight only-version-of the-tour songs—“Big Boss Man”, “It Must Have Been the Roses”, “Me & My Uncle”, “Mama Tried”, and “If I Had the World to Give”—before a spirited “Let It Grow” closed the set.
The second set was an effective mix of the Grateful Dead’s late-’60s psychedelia and late ’70s era with early covers “Let The Good Times Roll” and “Sign Me Back Home” serving as the opener and encore, respectively. A voluminous “Dark Star” was split into two verses and bookended much of the set. The tour’s musical peak, however, came during “Slipknot”, when Mayer and Chimenti focused on each other and steered the jam to the sort of place people hope to go when they click on “buy ticket.” Another sign that Dead & Company have had a really hot night is when Burbridge makes an unusually specific “about last night” post on social media, just like he did here.
For the second straight year, the Philly show made our Top Five. On paper, this was the best setlist of the tour: other than “Brown Eyed Women”, the entire show consisted of “second set” songs, with the show-opening “Truckin’” easing into “All Along the Watchtower”. The mid-set “Here Comes Sunshine” contained a clear “China Cat Sunflower” tease in its jam, and an “Estimated Prophet > Deal” pairing closed it out—and yes, that was just the first set.
The second set kicked off with the tour’s only version of “Samson & Delilah” ahead of sterling versions of “Help on the Way” and “Slipknot”. This time, though, one of the tour’s biggest swerves ensued, with the opening notes of “China Cat Sunflower” materializing out of “Help” > “Slip” instead of the typical“Franklin’s Tower.” Later, the tail end of “Space” contained a clear pass through the riff of the title track from the Grateful Dead’s 1975 LP, Blues for Allah, a song so rare that the Grateful Dead only played it live three times in 30 years. As a final stroke of mastery, the band worked up a minor key-to-major key transition from late-set ballad “The Days Between” into the ending progression of “Slipknot”, which then led into the missing “Franklin’s Tower” as the ideal set closer to 90-minute musical circle. A two-song encore of “Brokedown Palace” and “Casey Jones” closed this phenomenal show in fitting fashion.
A now-reliable occurrence on Dead & Company tours is that the band goes all out on the final night, playing like they’re not quite ready to go home just yet. This time, an energetic New York crowd was ready and waiting when it happened. This was another first set filled with mostly second-set songs, highlighted by the opening “Playing In The Band > Uncle Johns Band > Dear Mr. Fantasy > Hey Jude” segment that ran over 35 minutes as Weir fought through some early vocal struggles.
The autobiographical anthem “Truckin’” kicked off the tour’s final set, and Weir detoured the band into the first version of “Wang Dang Doodle” in almost three years ahead of the second-ever D&C pairing of “Scarlet Begonias” and “Franklin’s Tower”. Long, involved versions of “St. Stephen” and “The Eleven” followed and led to a loud, emotional “Drums” segment during which Lane came out to accompany Kreutzmann, Hart, and Burbridge. They saved the tour’s final version of “Morning Dew” for the set closer, and as a final surprise, the band didn’t play the almost-too-expected “One More Saturday Night” as the encore. Instead, they allowed Mayer to cut loose one more time, with “Deal” making its first-ever appearance in the D&C encore slot. That led to a reprise of “Playing in the Band”, which had opened the show four hours earlier. From start to finish, this was as high-energy a show as Dead & Company have played.
June 21st – Maryland Heights, MO
The folks in St. Louis braved the hottest day of the tour, with temperatures briefly breaking 100 that afternoon, but the show’s setlist was one of the tour’s best, consisting solely of Grateful Dead originals. That sensational setlist pushed the “Riverport” show into our Honorable Mention list for the second straight year. Along with the seasonally-appropriate “Music Never Stopped” opener, the first set contained the tour’s sole versions of “Easy Wind” and “Black-Throated Wind.”
Not to be outdone, the second set kicked off with the tour’s only version of “Box of Rain” (the first since 2019) and later included the summer’s sole run through “Spanish Jam”, which lead into a surprising and well-placed “Hell In A Bucket”, a welcome addition to the slate of late-in-the-show songs. Of course, the big highlight was the 27-minute “Playing in the Band > Uncle John’s Band” suite in between “Scarlet Begonias” and “Fire On The Mountain”, and though no one knew it at the time, this one would also be Bill Kreutzmann’s last full show with Dead & Company on this tour until July 15th at Citi Field. Overall, a hot summer night in all the right ways.
This day got off to a chilling start for many, with the U.S. Supreme Court issuing the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision that overturned 50 years of established right to reproductive freedom. There was a noticeably stunned and angry vibe as the venue filled before the show, and the band addressed it head-on by opening the show with “Man Smart, Woman Smarter” while projecting a “Save Our Rights” stealie onscreen. From there, the group shifted smoothly to a more optimistic vibe with “Eyes of the World” in the second slot. The remainder of the first set consisted of “Bertha” and the tour’s only “Next Time You See Me” before a run of second-set songs: the first half of “Dark Star”, the newly revived “Dear Mr. Fantasy” / “Hey Jude” pairing, and “Althea.”
The second set also started with a clear social justice statement via a rough but heartfelt take on on of Weir’s signature songs, “Throwing Stones”, augmented by photos taken at the Women’s March last fall in San Francisco on the video screens. Later, the band’s second version of “Sing Me Back Home” led to “Truckin’” as the set’s sixth song before “Drums”, which featured sidelined drummer Kreutzmann returning to the stage to join Lane, Hart and Burbridge for an intense four-man session. Following “Space”, Dead & Company debuted their version of Miles Davis’ “All Blues”, and after the ensuing “Cumberland Blues” and “Stella Blue,” Kreutzmann returned to replace Lane for the show-closing “Not Fade Away” as the band reached curfew. It was a welcome release from what was an unusually bad day for many Americans. For the rest of the tour, Dead & Company’s black and pink “Save Our Rights” t-shirts became very hot items at the official merch stands.
Aside from the parking crunch to get into the venue, Hartford’s Xfinity Amphitheatre would prove to be one of the 2022 Dead & Company Summer Tour’s most hospitable locations. Among other things, the venue allowed the tour’s traveling vendors to arrive the night before and set up shop in a large semicircle around the perimeter of the parking lots, resulting in a surprisingly lively pre-show scene for a Tuesday afternoon. A light rainstorm as the gates opened dampened only clothing, and after a “Music Never Stopped” opener, the band followed with the tour’s sole versions of “Liberty” and “Loser”. A strong “Cassidy” closed the first set, and the second set began with “Jack Straw”, an unusual but welcome occurrence. This quite nicely set up the “Scarlet Begonias” that followed, which featured an outro jam that ranked as one of the tour’s musical peaks. After “Viola Lee Blues” preceded “Fire on the Mountain”, the band split up an epic version of “The Other One” with an exceptional “Drums” segment from Hart, Lane, and Burbridge. The late-show “Black Peter” also hit all its marks, and the second set ran so long that the show got called prior to an encore, after the set-closing “Sugar Magnolia.” We loved Pete Schaw’s poster for the show, too.
Epilogue: Let The Words Be Yours, I’m Done With Mine
Three days after tour ended, John Mayer made a final tour-related Instagram post that included several of Jay Blakesberg’s photos from the tour’s final show at New York’s Citi Field. It was so good that we’re dropping it here to give him the last word:
These tours with Dead & Company exist on an almost otherworldly plane – everyone, on stage and in the crowd, meets up in this shared dream, and on the last night, after the final note is struck, we leave it all on the stage. We bow, we hug, we share our love for one another and then… we disappear. I fly through the dead of night and wake up at home, where my ears ring, my heart sings, and I’m left with this mix of fatigue and appreciation for what I was able to be a part of. I can feel the connected, collective experience of thousands of others who wake up feeling the same. I’ll never get over the profound beauty and uniqueness of this, and we’ll never in our lifetime see the likes of Bob Weir, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann playing beyond all perceived limitations and expectations. It’s nothing short of remarkable. Thank you one and all for allowing me a seat on this transcendent ride.
Now that you’ve made it this far, check out our previous Dead & Company tour recaps of the 2018 Summer Tour, 2019 Summer Tour, 2019 Fall/Winter Fun Run, and 2021 Summer/Fall Tour.
While we’re saddened by the news that next summer’s Dead & Company tour will be the band’s last, we’re sure that the finality of the trek will make for a truly memorable summer on the road. We can’t wait to enjoy the ride with all of you. For information on Dead & Company’s upcoming schedule of dates, head here.