On Tuesday night, Dead & Company continued their 2019 Fall Fun Run at Uniondale, NY’s Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, playing their first of two consecutive nights there. The classic and recently renovated Long Island arena, the lowest-capacity venue the band has played yet, provided an intimate setting for the six-piece outfit as they performed tunes from across the Grateful Dead repertoire.
The band kicked off the show with “Jack Straw”, warming up their chops and their voices. Bob Weir’s voice in particular proved to be in fine form and it remained strong all night. Next up came the belated “Deal” that was skipped on Halloween night in New York City, featuring some early-show guitar heroics from lead guitarist John Mayer. Weir then dusted off his acoustic guitar for a mellow “Peggy-O.” The gravelly syncopation of Weir’s acoustic playing contrasted beautifully with the smooth melodies of Mayer’s electric.
Mayer broke out his relatively new Travis Bean aluminum-neck electric for a slow but spirited “Brown Eyed Woman”, which also showcased keyboardist Jeff Chimenti’s talents on the grand piano. A tender “Looks Like Rain” followed, with Mayer taking advantage of the flowing, major-key outro to offer some superlative instrumental embellishments alongside Weir’s vocals.
Dead & Company – “Looks Like Rain”
[Video: Matt Frazier]
The boys then dug into the gritty Workingman’s Dead classic, “Easy Wind”, which saw bassist Oteil Burbridge really getting down to the beat during a much-extended mid-song instrumental break. The band kept up the drive into “Cumberland Blues”, which lacked much cohesion until Mayer and Chimenti were able to lean on each other to build the energy of the jam leading into the last verse. An overdue “Casey Jones” suddenly erupted, granting the audience a final first-set singalong. There are those fans who miss the party-vibe days of the outro accelerando, but by keeping the tempo steady through the end of the tune, Mayer and Burbridge were able to solo simultaneously to bring the first set to a rollicking close.
Dead & Company – “Easy Wind”
[Video: Matt Frazier]
The second set got off to a bright start with “Here Comes Sunshine”, with Mayer providing admirably on-pitch vocals for a tough song to sing. Then, an unmistakable few notes marked the beginning of “St. Stephen”, played with a faster-than-usual tempo that lent the band an energy that didn’t let up. Mayer was able to let some of his blazing riffs breathe a bit more, and his smooth shift from tried-and-true blues licks to more abstract melodies driving a shimmering jam granted this “St. Stephen” the “Filthiest Guitar Solo” award for the night. Chimenti joined in on the instrumental fun as the band worked its way through “William Tell Bridge” and into “The Eleven”, during which Jeff and Burbridge traded inflections from across the stage.
The Burbridge-sung “Comes A Time” emerged next, featuring the bassist’s clear and passionate vocals as well as a transcendent outro that floated on really tasteful instrumentation from Mayer and Chimenti. After a hard stop, a well-paced “Going Down the Road Feeling Bad” materialized, featuring verses from all the vocalists on stage, before a final, a capella chorus led into a funky, much abbreviated “Drums” and “Space” segment. From the scraps of “Space”, the band built into “The Other One”, also deferred from the NYC shows. A seamless and quite musically impressive transition brought the band into a gorgeous “Stella Blue”, which seemed to hang in the air and positively drip with each note. Finally, a romping “Not Fade Away” brought the second set to a crashing finish. Soon afterward, an energetic “U.S. Blues” encore closed out a very solid show.
Dead & Company – “Going Down The Road Feeling Bad”
[Video: Matt Frazier]
Enjoy a gallery of photos from Tuesday night’s show below courtesy of photographer Kevin Cole.
Tonight, Wednesday, November 6th, Dead & Company returns to Uniondale, NY’s Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum for their second of two performances. Head to Dead & Company’s website for a full list of the band’s upcoming tour dates, ticketing and more information.
Setlist: Dead & Company | Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum | Uniondale, NY | 11/5/2019
Set One: Jack Straw, Deal, Peggy-O, Brown Eyed Women, Looks Like Rain, Easy Wind, Cumberland Blues, Casey Jones
Set Two: Here Comes Sunshine, St. Stephen > The Eleven, Comes A Time, Going Down The Road Feeling Bad > Drums / Space > The Other One > Stella Blue, Not Fadeaway
Encore: U.S. Blues