Dead & Company, the Grateful Dead spinoff band comprised of Bob Weir (rhythm guitar/vocals), Mickey Hart (drums), and Bill Kreutzmann (drums) alongside Jeff Chimenti (keyboards/vocals), Oteil Burbridge (bass/vocals), John Mayer (lead guitar vocals), and Jay Lane (drums), recently completed their final tour as a band. Appropriately billed as The Final Tour, its two-month loop around the United States ran from May 19th to July 16th and comprised 29 shows at 19 venues including one arena, 12 sheds, and six stadiums. To call the tour a success would be an understatement: per Billboard, the tour sold 845,00 tickets and grossed almost $115 million overall, more than double their previous best.

The band completed its eight-year run as a touring act as it had done throughout, playing extended concerts comprised almost entirely of original and cover songs from the Grateful Dead’s catalog, originals co-written by lead guitarist Jerry Garcia (1942-1995) with lyricist Robert Hunter (1941–2019) or by Weir with lyricist John Perry Barlow (1947-2018). Dead & Company also maintained the Grateful Dead’s long-standing practice of playing two unique sets each night pulled from an active repertoire of over 100 songs, with each second set containing a “Drums” segment for Hart, Lane, and Burbridge to improvise on a range of percussion instruments that lined the rear of the stage, followed by a “Space” segment for the guitarists and Chimenti to improvise outside the traditional song format.

There was a major swerve one month before the tour kicked off, though, when Kreutzmann made a shock announcement on April 22nd via social media that he would not be taking part in the tour due “to a shift in creative direction.” After no further elaboration by anyone, Lane played the entire tour as Kreutzmann’s replacement, as he had done at 17 previous Dead & Company shows since October 2021, when health issues first started forcing Kreutzmann offstage.

Fortunately, the next two pre-tour events were far more positive, with the band playing a well-received single-set show on May 6th at the 52nd staging of New Orleans’ annual Jazz Fest, two years after their scheduled 2021 appearance was cancelled. Two days later on May 8th, the band held a benefit show at Cornell University’s Barton Hall, exactly 46 years after of the Grateful Dead’s legendary Barton Hall show on May 8th, 1977. The “C23” show went down as one of Dead & Company’s best and raised $3.1 million dollars for beneficiaries MusiCares, Cornell’s 2020 Project, and HeadCount.

PART 1: MAY 19th to JUNE 15th – WEST TO EAST


The Final Tour began in Los Angeles with a pair of nights at the Kia Forum. Along with D&C’s benefit show at Cornell two weeks earlier, these were the band’s first indoor shows since December 2019, and they would also be the last: the remaining 27 shows on the tour were staged at outdoor venues.

Friday night’s opening show hit the ground running when “Shakedown Street” led off a generous 90-minute first set; its final 45 minutes consisted of the surprising placement of elongated ’60s-era classics “St. Stephen” and “The Eleven” before Mayer delivered a scorching performance during “Deal”. The second set was highlighted by a swaying “Sugaree”, Weir’s on-the-fly reversal in order of the vintage “Estimated Prophet” > “Eyes of the World” pairing, and a restorative and soulful “Black Muddy River” encore. But the night’s real highlight just might have been the debut of Mickey Hart’s extended workout on the new balafon he had bought earlier in the week, accompanied by Burbridge on bass banjo and Lane on drums. (And no, we didn’t know bass banjos were even a thing until tonight, either. We’ll talk more about this later.)

On paper, every song in the first set of Saturday night’s Forum show was in the Grateful Dead’s repertoire in 1972. In practice, D&C’s tempos for the delivery of those songs were noticeably and decidedly faster than normal, making for a bustling start that set up the show’s highlight: a 21-minute version of “Bird Song” that ambled along happily for half its length before jolting into a higher gear and remaining there until the closing verse. The second set was a nonstop run of songs with some novel twists and turns: opener ‘Althea” eschewed its usual full stop and segued directly into “The Other One”, whose two verses were split by a suspenseful “Terrapin Station”. There was still more, as GD crew member Steve Parish joined Hart, Lane, and Burbridge during “Drums”, the “Help on the Way” > “Slipknot” > “Franklin’s Tower” trio landed in an uncommon set-closer role, and the gentle encore of “Brokedown Palace” appeared instead of the conventional “One More Saturday Night”.

At the tour’s second stop in Phoenix at Talking Stick Resort Amphitheatre, Arizona’s low-desert weather was its usual unforgiving self, with the afternoon temperature reaching 102 degrees. It had only dropped to 98 by showtime, prompting onstage banter between Hart, Weir, and Mayer that involved Gold Bond Powder before a four-song run of “Dear Mr. Fantasy” and its “Hey Jude” coda, the first half of “Dark Star”, and a blazing “Cumberland Blues”. The second set went deeper and wider, launching with a colorful “Here Comes Sunshine” before a progression of “Scarlet Begonias”, “Viola Lee Blues”, the second half of “Dark Star”, the tour’s only version of “Spanish Jam”, and “Fire on the Mountain”. It was a heated night on multiple levels, with Mayer proclaiming on Instagram the following day: “We are cooking with g a s!”


Dallas’ Dos Equis Pavilion hosted D&C’s final show in Texas, and early flares of Friday-night energy came from “Hell in a Bucket” and “Big Railroad Blues”, followed by a 30-minute trek consisting of the tour’s sole version of “Ship of Fools” before Weir’s pairing of “Lost Sailor” and “Saint of Circumstance”. The second set embarked with “Jack Straw” and “Truckin’” and their respective crowd-pleasing Texas and Dallas references before settling into “He’s Gone”. The high points of the show were the jam in “Playing in the Band”, where Mayer used a lengthy run of chord riffing to build things up to a peak, and the surging rendition of Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower”. “Touch of Grey”, now a relative D&C rarity, was the sentimental and satiating encore.

Next up was Atlanta’s Cellairis Pavilion at Lakewood Amphitheatre, where D&C played Top-Shows-caliber gigs on each of their three previous visits in 2017, 2019, and 2021. They made it four-for-four with this Sunday show, and we’ll talk about it in more detail in the Top Shows section at the bottom of this article.

Two days later at Charlotte’s PNC Music Pavilion, early highlights were “Cold Rain & Snow” and “Dire Wolf”, but the first set’s finest moments were in its final three songs: “The Wheel” and its transcendent mid-song jam, the “Bertha” that contained numerous bass bombs from Burbridge, and the instrumental swells in “Let It Grow” that overcame a couple of imperfect transitions between sections.  The second set was anchored by “Fire on the Mountain”, which followed the “Help” > “Slipknot” > “Franklin’s” trio (the latter containing an immense organ solo from Chimenti) and preceded a 57-minute adventure of “The Other One” > “Drums” > “Space” > “The Other One” > “Black Peter”. And by tacking on a couple of extra choruses to the “U.S. Blues” encore, the band ran past the venue’s curfew. Hope it didn’t cost ‘em.

As the calendar flipped from May to June, the tour flipped from Charlotte to Raleigh’s Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek. After long waits to enter the lots and the venue, Deadheads were treated to one of Mayer’s best nights of the tour. Early high points came from the opening “New Speedway Boogie” and the slower arrangement of “They Love Each Other”, and Mayer also belted out the tour’s sole “Easy Wind” before Mother Nature delivered dramatic skies and light rain during the set-closing “Bird Song”. Mayer’s hot night continued throughout the show, with his solos responsible for the set’s multiple apexes in “Sugaree”, “St. Stephen”, and the set-closing “Casey Jones”. Along with all of that, “Iko Iko” as the lead-in to “Drums” was a great touch, and Mayer later brought the night to a meditative close during the “Black Muddy River” encore.


Next up was the Baltimore/Washington, D.C. metro area and a jam-packed, sold-out Saturday show at Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow, VA, complete with major traffic snarls on the way in. This was one of the tour’s toughest tickets; a second show here would likely have sold out as quickly as this one did. The first set was top-tier: aside from the tour’s sole version of the Beatles’ “Dear Prudence”, it was a satiating mix of classic material from the GD’s Europe ’72 and Wake of the Flood eras, driven by the trio of “Mr. Charlie”, “He’s Gone”, and “Brown-Eyed Women”. The second set’s early focal points came from “Deal” and “Scarlet Begonias” before a regionally appropriate “Cumberland Blues”, while the set’s closing run of songs featured four straight tour debuts: Miles Davis’ “Milestones”, “The Days Between”, “Throwing Stones”, and “One More Saturday Night”.

The ensuing show at The Pavilion at Star Lake in Burgettstown, PA was D&C’s first sellout of the Pittsburgh metro area venue. This would turn out to be a mixed blessing. The first set featured “Jack Straw”, the tour’s only versions of “Big Boss Man”, and “Peggy-O”, and the second set’s high points came from Burbridge’s graceful reading of “China Doll” that led straight into an engaging “China” > “Rider”, and the set-closing “Not Fade Away”. However, this show will also be remembered for Star Lake adding another black mark to its long history of ingress nightmares. Traffic backed up for miles during the afternoon as parking lots filled to capacity well before many ticketholders could enter, forcing many to park miles away on highway shoulders while many more never made it inside. Sadly, Star Lake’s ingress problem may never be solved, but it did at least create widespread situational awareness of the need for earlier arrival at the tour’s remaining 20 shows.

D&C then made like Ronnie Van Zant and rode 600 miles to do one more show at the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in St. Louis, where entry was uneventful and timely. All three of the band’s go-to “St. Louis” songs arrived in the first set: “Big River” and “Black Throated Wind” each contain direct references to the city, while the set-closing “Johnny B. Goode” was written by St. Louis native Chuck Berry. The second set flowered with its lengthy “Eyes of the World” opener and its coda of Burbridge’s bass solo/scat singing, and the show also made “Dark Star” chasers happy with its first appearance in seven shows. The band, however, saved the most unique portion of the show for last: following the “Space” segment, D&C separated “The Eleven” from “St. Stephen” for the first time and delivered a spirited rendition before a dramatic “Death Don’t Have No Mercy” preceded “Going Down the Road Feeling Bad”, in an atypical role as second-set closer.


From there it was north on I-55 for a pair of weekend shows at Chicago’s Wrigley Field. The venue became a D&C mainstay starting in 2017, and in 2023 D&C played its 9th and 10th shows there, the most of any band. Friday’s opening show launched with a fiery pairing of “Playing in the Band” and “Deal”, and later the tour’s sole version of “Crazy Fingers” and the tour premiere of “Dancing in the Streets” preceded the set break. The second set loped through the GD’s 1976/’77 era repertoire, kicking off with “Sugaree” and a lengthy one-verse version of “The Other One” tucked between “Estimated Prophet” and “Terrapin Station”. After a serene “Stella Blue”, the late-show highlight came from directing “Sugar Magnolia” straight into “Scarlet Begonias”, just like the GD famously did in 1990, before hurling back into the “Sunshine Daydream” coda. After all that, the “U.S. Blues” encore was an ideal choice.

Not for the first time, but probably for the last time, Dead & Company’s Saturday night show at Wrigley Field is covered in detail in the Top Shows section at the bottom of this article.

A jump back into the Eastern Time Zone begat D&C’s final show at Cincinnati’s Riverbend Music Center, a low-slung shed with an artificial turf “lawn” borne from its slightly steeper gradient yielding mudslide-type conditions in earlier days. Summertime anthem “The Music Never Stopped” kicked off the show in fine fashion, and the tour premieres of “Next Time You See Me” and “Me & My Uncle” preceded the tour’s sole “Row Jimmy”. Later, “Iko Iko” wrapped up the first set after a harmonious and unhurried “Cassidy”. As night fell, the turf lawn’s drainage system would indeed be called on to do its thing when rain arrived during the second set. Onstage, “Here Comes Sunshine” and an easygoing “Viola Lee Blues” preceded the impeccably chosen Weir/Barlow standard “Looks Like Rain”, which would also be the tour’s only version. The set ran for nearly two unhurried hours overall as the band combed the farthest corners of each song, where “The Wheel” and Mayer’s lengthy solo in the set-closing “Casey Jones” distinguished themselves.

Philadelphia’s lovingly fierce Deadheads have settled for nothing less than strong shows of GD music for over five decades, and they got themselves one more on this weeknight show at the Phillies’ baseball stadium, Citizens Bank Park. The tour’s only version of “Man Smart, Woman Smarter” turned up in the leadoff position and two songs later “Cold Rain & Snow” turned up the heat, but the set’s highlights came when the first half of “Dark Star” bled into the tour’s sole version of Marty Robbins’ classic “El Paso”, and the show’s most unusual occurrence came after the set break. For the first and only time, D&C then kicked off a second set with a stand-alone version of “Fire on the Mountain” (something their Grateful Dead predecessors also did exactly once) before “New Speedway Boogie” and the classic “Estimated” > “Eyes” pairing. Later, a rousing “Not Fade Away” closed the set before a delicate “Ripple” encore closed out D&C’s final show in the City of Brotherly Love.

PART 2: JUNE 17th to JULY 16th – EAST TO WEST


The 57-year-old Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs, NY was awarded a pair of prized weekend shows on The Final Tour, and they’d be two of the tour’s hardest tickets to get. The venue’s design twists have always ensured that a sold-out show here feels more crowded, and with Deadheads taking up more space than others, the crowd extended well onto the plaza above the lawn. Due to line management issues on Saturday many of folks missed the beginning of the show and the stately trio of a 14-minute “Scarlet Begonias”, “Deal”, and the tour’s final version of “Black Throated Wind”. The show’s peak and biggest surprise kicked off the second set, a version of “They Love Each Other” performed in the faster, original 1973 arrangement. However, this version bubbled its way into an upbeat jam that nearly reached “Franklin’s Tower” levels of bounce before wafting into “Terrapin Station”. From there the show took an admirably darker turn with a 40-minute passage of “He’s Gone”, “The Other One” > “Drums” > “Space” > “The Other One” augmented by nature-film footage of ants crawling over the video screens just before Hart’s segment on The Beam.

Venue entry at Saratoga went much more smoothly on Sunday, and this show was driven by numerous Weir/Barlow heavy hitters. Openers “Hell in a Bucket” and “Sugaree” were once a prevalent show-opening duo during the Grateful Dead’s final decade, and later the complicated dynamics of “Lost Sailor” and “Saint of Circumstance” preceded the driving “Big Railroad Blues” set-closer. “Samson & Delilah” made its expected Sunday-show appearance to start the second set before Weir counted in “Playing in the Band”, whose jam unexpectedly yielded the “Help on the Way” > “Slipknot” > “Franklin’s Tower” trio. Later, following the tour’s final “Death Don’t Have No Mercy”, the set closed with two more Weir/Barlow powerhouses: the tour’s final “Throwing Stones”, and all-time classic “Sugar Magnolia”. The double encore included the tour’s sole version of Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London” and a reprise of “Playing in the Band”.

D&C’s two-show run at New York’s Citi Field in Queens started with big-city anthem “Shakedown Street” before “Ramble on Rose” and “Dancing in the Street each got the big cheers for their local references, and the set’s peaks came from its final two songs, “Althea” and “Let It Grow”. Then things got weird. The second set started with Mayer announcing that he’d thrown his back out and would be playing the rest of the show seated, and we’re always going to remember this moment with the image of some Noo Yawk smart-ass loudly bellowing, “Hey Mayer! Siddahhhhnnnn!” right before “China” > “Rider” started. It was strange to watch at first, but it led to a cohesive and focused set, and following “St. Stephen” and “Uncle John’s Band”, the band ushered guest artist Joe Russo to join Hart, Lane, and Burbridge for “Drums”, and Russo helped propel a vivid, intense, and joyous segment. Later in the set, Mayer’s gorgeous solo on “Stella Blue” proved he could knock out a stadium crowd while sitting down.

The final show at CitiField was remarkable enough that you can read all about it in the Top Shows section at the end of this article.


The tour’s next stop consisted of two shows at Boston’s Fenway Park, the 112-year-old home of baseball’s Red Sox. That’s old enough that the logistics and security issues that presented themselves in 2023 meant that the best way to get the band into the venue’s backstage compound each day was to walk them through the crowd, from the home plate dugouts to deep center field. As you might expect, this was entertaining.

The first Fenway show on Saturday night was the night of the big jams, and we’ll talk more about those in the Top Shows section at the bottom of this article.

The first set of Fenway’s Sunday show started with a healthy volley of “second set” songs, including “Samson & Delilah”, “Althea”, the tour’s only “Comes A Time”, and a nice pairing of “He’s Gone” with “Going Down the Road Feeling Bad”. The second set kicked off with the faster (and now longer) 1973 arrangement of “They Love Each Other” and a  stirring “Playing in the Band”, but the lasting memory came from setting “Franklin’s Tower” aside for a night, instead pairing up its mates “Help on the Way” and “Slipknot” with “Fire on the Mountain”, just like the Grateful Dead did “Help” > “Slip” > “Fire” that one time at Boston Garden, three miles away and 32 years ago. Late-show highlights came from a “Standing on the Moon” with a soaring, Slash-style classic rock solo from Mayer and a rallying “Not Fade Away” before the encore of “The Weight” and “Ripple”.

Two days later the tour arrived at Noblesville, Indiana’s beloved Ruoff Music Center (yes, we still call it Deer Creek) for the tour’s final Midwest show. After an animated opening of “Bertha” and “Good Lovin’”, the band delivered the tour’s final versions of “It Must Have Been the Roses” and “Big River”, which morphed into the final verse of “Dark Star” sung over the “Dark River” mashup the band had invented on stage two shows earlier in Boston. The second set kicked off with the tour’s final version of “Iko” before Mayer cut loose during “Sugaree”. “Uncle John’s Band” landed in a familiar and welcome spot when it preceded “Drums”, and it was offset by a rare placement of a charged “Hell in A Bucket” appearing out of “Space”. Fittingly, D&C closed out their sixth and final appearance at Deer Creek, a signature venue for Grateful Dead music since 1989, with the tour’s final version of “Touch of Grey”.


The University of Colorado’s Folsom Field in Boulder evolved into the epicenter of the Dead & Company universe over the space of six runs and thirteen shows from 2016 to 2023 (five previous runs of two shows until 2023’s three-show engagement), and by the time it was all over, the 99-year-old venue’s staff, security, and local law enforcement could often be seen singing along while they worked, the band’s “friends & family” enclosure by the soundboard was as tightly packed as the front of the GA floor area, and the multiple post-show gig and after-party options in town could easily keep one out until dawn each night, if so inclined.

D&C’s opening set crammed nine songs into just over an hour of music, including “Truckin’”, “Deal”, and the tour’s final versions of “Smokestack Lightning” and “Me & My Uncle” before a couple bigger surges during the “Hey Jude” coda to “Dear Mr. Fantasy” and the “Terrapin Station” that followed. After a brief moment of rain and a double rainbow during set break (yes, we imitated this guy too), the second set was far more spacious, with the band intertwining four distinct and diverse Garcia/Hunter numbers based on jazz (“Eyes of the World”), funk (“Shakedown Street”), psychedelia (“St. Stephen”), and bluegrass (“Cumberland Blues”) into a coherent, flowing whole. Following “Space”, the band aired the tour’s final “Milestones” and served up a “Sugar Magnolia”/“Scarlet Begonias” sandwich before the tour’s final version of “Going Down the Road Feeling Bad” landed in the encore slot.

Boulder’s second show kicked off with the tour’s final version of “Feel Like a Stranger” before Chimenti’s piano runs generated an outstanding “Brown Eyed Women” that literally had people jumping up and down, and later highlights arrived when Burbridge’s “High Time” preceded the tour’s final “Let It Grow” to close the set. The second set started with the “faster” 1973 arrangement of “They Love Each Other”, but this time the band nimbly pivoted its closing jam directly into “China Cat Sunflower”, to great effect. The show’s highlight, though, was the all-in on “Fire on the Mountain”, when Burbridge used his crowd-pleasing bass banjo during an actual song for the first time and Hart traded his drummer’s throne for a microphone to rap the song’s final verse, just like he first did on an unreleased recording from 1974. The place went foreseeably wild over it all, and later an authoritative trio of “The Eleven”, “U.S. Blues”, and “Morning Dew” drove the set home.

Many big things happened during D&C’s third and final show at Folsom Field, and we’ll go into more detail about them in the Top Shows section at the bottom of the article.


The Gorge Amphitheatre and its onsite campground in central Washington served as The Final Tour’s penultimate venue. Spectacularly situated 800 feet above the Columbia River Gorge, it’s a schlep to get there but it’s well worth it. Dead & Company’s two shows there were their first two sellouts at the venue, and the increased numbers made for startlingly heavy traffic into the lots while the scorching heat reached the mid-90s each day. The first show on Friday started with a varied opening trio of “The Music Never Stopped”, “Alabama Getaway”, and the tour’s sole version of “When I Paint My Masterpiece”, and later a striking “Bird Song” preceded closer “Big Railroad Blues”. Mayer then took full advantage of the opportunity to shine on the “Sugaree” that opened the second set before Weir counted in “Estimated Prophet” with its trademark 7/4 time signature, and “Viola Lee Blues” unfurled into the first half of the tour’s final “Dark Star”. Later, the second set’s final three songs were all sourced from “Workingman’s Dead”, the Grateful Dead’s transformative 1970 album: “Cumberland Blues”, “Black Peter”, and “Casey Jones”.

D&C’s Saturday show at The Gorge could probably be seen as Dead & Company’s last “normal” show before heading home to the Bay Area to deal with the hullabaloo surrounding the final three shows. The band made it count, and we’ll talk more about it in the Top Shows section at the bottom of the article.

The Final Tour concluded in the band’s hometown of San Francisco, with three shows at Oracle Park, the home of Major League Baseball’s Giants. This was the first time since the 1974 “retirement” shows at Winterland Ballroom that the Grateful Dead or any of its offshoot bands had announced “final” shows in advance, so the festive atmosphere outside the shows included many folks intensely searching for face-value tickets while a slight air of melancholy hung over the proceedings. On stage, the band avoided any kind of “final shows” pageantry completely—aside from Weir’s set break announcements and Hart’s acknowledgement of the crew after the final night’s encore, there were no words. Somewhat surprisingly, Kreutzmann didn’t turn up after a cryptic, since-deleted social media post around the time of the shows at The Gorge that invited legitimate speculation about him appearing there or at Oracle. It also turned out that Bob Dylan had indeed been invited to sit in at Oracle, but he never responded.

Friday’s opening set kicked off with a reverberating “Not Fade Away” and then immediately became an ambitious and reverent “Garcia/Hunter’s Catchiest Songs” show whose titles spanned a full 20 years of their celebrated writing partnership: “Shakedown Street”, “Ramble On Rose”, “Brown Eyed Women”, “New Speedway Boogie”, “Wharf Rat”, “China Cat Sunflower”, “He’s Gone”, “Scarlet Begonias”, “Fire on the Mountain”, “Standing on the Moon”, “Casey Jones”, and “US Blues”. Yep, all of those in one show. Dylan’s “Knocking on Heaven’s Door” got the nod to serve as the moving encore while a montage of photos of deceased members of the Grateful Dead and its inner circle played on the video screens, which now included former road manager Sam Cutler, who had passed three days earlier. And by this time, anyone who hadn’t dressed for San Francisco’s renowned “summer” weather was wishing they had, as the temperature had plummeted into the 50s by show’s end.

The second night’s initial set bounced through multiple eras and genres with 1960s covers of “Let the Good Times Roll’ and “Turn on Your Lovelight” framing the proceedings, and in between them came Mayer’s take on “It Hurts Me Too” alongside Weir/Barlow standards “Hell in a Bucket”, “Jack Straw”, and “Cassidy”. The second set launched with yet another version of “Deal” where Mayer’s solo swept the crowd away, but after that it became a night with a lot more jamming and taking of chances, but with the occasional muffs and scuffs that happen when bands improvise. And, in contrast to the previous show’s succession of “hits,” this setlist was equally impressive through its focus on longer, open-ended songs: “Playing in the Band” and “The Other One” were each split in half during the set and appeared on either side of “Drums” and “Space”, while “Terrapin Station”, “Uncle John’s Band”, and “Morning Dew” were also interspersed amongst them before the “Ripple” encore.

Longtime readers are aware that every previous Dead & Company tour recap we’ve done has had its final show land in the Top Shows section. It happened one last time, and we’ll cover this one in the Top Shows section at the end of the article.



With the exception of the five Fare Thee Well shows in 2015 and a couple of Dead & Company’s Playing in the Sand destination events in Mexico, demand for tickets to The Final Tour exceeded supply at a consistent level not seen since the Grateful Dead’s last tour in 1995, and this was one part of “back in the day” that Deadheads were far from nostalgic for in 2023. Many of the tour’s “shed” venues sold out their face-value tickets within minutes, with many frustrated Deadheads refusing to buy the remaining seats at upcharged prices, whether offered as part of “VIP” packages, Ticketmaster/Live Nation’s “Platinum” prices for up-close seats, or offered on resale sites at a markup, often around three times face value and sometimes even higher.

As the tour approached and progressed, resale tickets appearing at or near face value on Ticketmaster were usually gone before most folks even saw them, while Deadheads who posted non-premium-priced face-value tickets for no-markup resale on Cash or Trade were often bombarded with dozens of offers, sometimes in just a few minutes. However, even this egalitarian approach resulted in much frustration, as every would-be buyer except one came away disappointed, and many other Deadheads fell prey to online scams where tickets “bought” via Venmo and PayPal never materialized.

If there was any upside to all this, it was that at least ticket-buyers using legitimate resale sites were guaranteed to buy a genuine ticket and had recourse if a seller didn’t deliver; many Deadhead readers of a certain age and experience can probably recall at least one bad memory involving the counterfeit ticket sales that plagued parking lots at Grateful Dead shows for years.

At the actual venues, when shed and stadium shows are sold out and filled to legal capacity, they can be uncomfortably crowded at the best of times. It took a sold-out tour to remind everyone the hard way that a sold-out venue of Deadheads brings numerical, logistical, and infrastructure-related challenges that most other crowds don’t. (Many folks turning up without tickets, many of whom aren’t actually trying to get into the show, a greater percentage of blankets and lawn chairs amongst attendees, Deadheads taking up more room to dance in GA areas, the nitrous oxide vendors who shadow the tour, and a much higher rate of people trying and/or succeeding at sneaking into shows without tickets.) The first half of the tour took place primarily at “shed” venues where hours-long waits to park were common, as were long, slow lines for security screening and venue entry. Fortunately, the tour’s second half was primarily at larger stadiums with a bit more breathing room and parking capacity, but overall, it was still one crowded, congested night after another. On top of all that, a tragic shooting at an EDM festival at The Gorge on June 17th prompted an additional layer of security measures during the tour’s final month.

But despite the many rumors and accusations flying around, shows were not oversold like they were in the past, like at Saratoga in 1985. Times have changed. In this fully electronic, post-Roskilde, post-Station-fire, and post-Astroworld era, it’s practically impossible to do in large venues now that they don’t take cash at the door, it’s practically impossible to cover up if authorities ever check, and the liability is now far more severe.


The Final Tour’s high attendance figures were especially welcome on “Shakedown Street”, a.k.a. “Shakedown”, the name now given to the area in or near each venue’s parking lots where vendors sell a wide variety of clothing, jewelry, food, and beverage, and probably whatever else you can think of that’s legal. Once a loose, laissez-faire process but now formalized through pre-sold vendor permits and formal licensing of GD-related trademarks and copyrights, many Shakedown vendors nonetheless adhered to the long tradition of following much or all of the tour and looking out for each other along the way. On most days Shakedown was very busy at a minimum, and on some days the crowds were shoulder-to-shoulder until showtime. And for the second straight year, as the tour progressed some of the folks with AAA laminates would regularly buy t-shirts from Shakedown during the afternoon for band members to wear onstage during shows along with the official merchandise sold by the band.

However, despite considerable efforts to alleviate the problem, the official posters commissioned by D&C for each show often remained difficult to obtain. There were larger print runs than previous years, and there was the addition of more “early” merch stands outside venues on show days, but at most shows, would-be poster buyers needed to arrive at a show early and/or wait in line for an hour or more, with the best-received posters selling out by showtime or shortly thereafter. Somewhat predictably, sold posters usually appeared on eBay at a significant markup within hours of a show’s conclusion. The initial lack of a per-person limit enabled bulk-buying incidents where the purchaser’s intent to resell them at a markup was obvious, forcing the band to implement a five-poster limit by the end of the tour. Fortunately, a solid trading network has evolved amongst Dead & Company poster aficionados (with the occasional face value plus shipping costs sale popping up), but even then, many remained frustrated by the catch-22 of not actually having an in-demand poster to trade.


If you’re like us, we had no idea that a bass banjo was something that even existed before Oteil Burbridge walked onstage with one for the “Drums” segment on the tour’s opening night in Los Angeles. So, we decided to look it up, and we were a little bit stunned to discover that the bass banjo (also called a cello banjo) was invented in 1889 by Samuel Swaim Stewart of Philadelphia, who dedicated his life and his company SS Stewart to “remaking the banjo into an instrument of cultural sophistication.” We’re not sure how we missed this before, but we’re now completely down with the bass banjo and with Mr. Stewart’s life mission. Burbridge would go on to use it every few shows during “Drums” while Hart played a balofon he found in Los Angeles a few days before the tour and Lane accompanied them on his drum kit. Finally, Burbridge used his bass banjo in an actual song during the version of “Fire on the Mountain” on July 2nd (the same one that featured Mickey’s rapping), to great effect.


If you want this section summarized in one sentence, the band stuck to its already-successful playbook, with no breakouts or new songs. Like they have done all along, Dead & Company ran on a four-night cycle, meaning fans could usually see four consecutive shows without many (or any) songs being repeated. During the tour’s 29 shows, there were 23 songs played at least seven times, i.e., every four shows, and all of them tended to be the biggest and/or most popular songs from the Grateful Dead’s catalog. This so-called “regularity” paid dividends, though, as there were no real off-nights to speak of—attendees generally walked away sated and then some, barring the folks who missed parts or all of some shows due to traffic and long lines. On the other end of the spectrum, 18 songs were only played once on the tour, and another 12 songs were only played twice.

But if it’s geeky song statistics you want? Ok, coming right up! First, we know that the “Scarlet Begonias” > “Fire on the Mountain” pairing remains a perennial favorite amongst Deadheads, and D&C did play seven “Scarlets” and eight “Fires” on the tour. However, the band only paired the songs consecutively as the classic “Scarlet > Fire” on two occasions, in New York on June 22nd and on San Francisco on July 14th. “Don’t Ease Me In” was more prevalent this tour, appearing as a first-set closer six times, including consecutive shows at Noblesville and Boulder. “Samson & Delilah” was played at all five shows that fell on a Sunday, while “One More Saturday Night” was played at five of the tour’s eight Saturday shows. “Althea” was played nine times, and five of those versions were part of a Top Show. There were five versions of “Morning Dew” on the tour, and three of those versions landed in a Top Show.

Also, there were no continuous, unbroken two-verse versions of D&C’s biggest jamming vehicles, “Dark Star” and “The Other One”. Each version was broken into two halves, with three of the tour’s five “Dark Stars” appearing in different sets in the same show, and two other versions split over multiple shows. Meanwhile, three of the tour’s six versions of “The Other One” were split into two parts that appeared in the same set of the same show, while the remaining three versions were split over consecutive shows. In total, 16 of the tour’s 29 shows contained some part of “Dark Star” or “The Other One”, and the Boston show on June 24th was the only show on the tour that contained both songs. Wicked lucky!

When it came time for encores, 21 of the tour’s 29 shows contained encores of a single song, while three more contained two-song encores. However, consider yourself lucky if you saw either of the two shows with a three-song encore, or any of the three shows with no encore at all, because all five of them ended up in our Top Shows section below.


For the third year in a row, set breaks during the tour’s live-streamed video broadcasts on were filled with the Dead Air program featuring David Gans and Gary Lambert, the longtime co-hosts of the weekly series “Tales from the Golden Road” on Sirius XM’s Grateful Dead Channel. Along with single-song previews, Dead Air was simulcast live on YouTube to help promote purchases of livestreams, and each night featured a recently pre-recorded interview with notable guests from the Grateful Dead universe: All six D&C band members (John Mayer, Oteil Burbridge, Jeff Chimenti, Jay Lane, John Mayer (again), Mickey Hart, Bob Weir), D&C’s front-of-house engineer and VP of Touring at Ultrasound (Derek Featherstone), writers and photographers (Jesse Jarnow, Alan Paul, Rosie McGee, Jay Blakesberg & Blair Jackson, Ed Perlstein), musicians (LP Giobbi, Bob Bralove, Jeff Pehrson, Adam Theis, Dave McMurray), music industry folks (David Lemieux, Rob Bleetsteen, Brad Serling, Mark Pinkus, Jeff Norman), and charitable/activist organizations (Andy Bernstein, John Leopold, Cameron Sears, Hilary Gleeson, Jason Scheuner, William “Hawk” Semins).

While each interview contains its high points, we have to give a special shout-out to Gans’ cat Ringo for his complete and total disruption of the proceedings at the 16:10 mark of LP Giobbi’s interview. Good work, fella!

Links to all interviews are below in the order they appear in the above paragraph:

BAND & CREW: John Mayer 1 of 2 (5/19), Oteil Burbridge (May 20th), Jeff Chimenti (June 18th), Jay Lane (July 1st), John Mayer 2 of 2 (July 14th), Mickey Hart (July 15th), Bob Weir (July 16th), Derek Featherstone (July 3rd)

Dead Air Featuring John Mayer – 5/19/23

Dead Air Featuring Oteil Burbridge – 5/20/23

Dead Air Featuring Jeff Chimenti – 6/18/23

Dead Air Featuring Jay Lane – 7/1/23

Dead Air Featuring John Mayer – 7/14/23

Dead Air Featuring Mickey Hart – 7/15/23

Dead Air Featuring Bob Weir – 7/16/23

Dead Air Featuring Dead & Company Front Of House Sound Engineer Derek Featherstone – 7/3/23

View Band & Crew Interviews

WRITERS & PHOTOGRAPHERS: Jesse Jarnow (May 26th), Alan Paul (June 13th) Rosie McGee, (June 17th), Jay Blakesberg & Blair Jackson (June 21st), Ed Perlstein (June 27th)

Dead Air Featuring Good Ol’ Grateful Deadcast‘s Jesse Jarnow – 5/26/23

Dead Air Featuring Author, Allman Brothers Band Biographer Alan Paul – 6/13/23

Dead Air Featuring Photographer Rosie McGee – 6/17/23

Dead Air Featuring Photographer Jay Blakesberg & Author Blair Jackson – 7/21/23

Dead Air Featuring Photographer Ed Perlstein – 6/27/23

View Writers & Photographers Interviews

MUSICIANS: LP Giobbi (May 23rd), Jeff Pehrson (June 5th), Adam Theis (June 7th), Dave McMurray

Dead Air Featuring LP Giobbi – 5/23/23

Dead Air Featuring Bob Bralove – 5/28/23

Dead Air Featuring Jeff Pehrson (Furthur, Box Set) – 6/5/23

Dead Air Featuring Adam Theis (The Wolfpack, Grateful Grass) – 6/7/23

Dead Air Featuring Jazz Saxophonist Dave McMurray (Grateful Deadication) – 6/10/23

View Musicians Interviews

MUSIC INDUSTRY FOLKS: David Lemieux (June 3rd), Rob Bleetsteen (June 15th), Brad Serling (June 22nd), Mark Pinkus (June 25th), Jeff Norman (July 2nd)

Dead Air Featuring Grateful Dead Archivist & Legacy Manager David Lemieux – 6/3/23

Dead Air Featuring Rob Bleetsteen (GD Radio, SiriusXM) – 6/15/23

Dead Air Featuring Nugs Founder Brad Serling – 6/22/23

Dead Air Featuring Rhino Records President Mark Pinkus – 6/25/23

Dead Air Featuring Jeffrey Norman (Mockingbird Mastering) – 7/2/23

View Music Industry Folks Interviews

ACTIVIST ORGANIZATIONS: Andy Bernstein (May 30th), John Leopold (June 1st), Cameron Sears (June 9th). (Hilary Gleeson June 24th), Jason Scheuner (July 7th), William “Hawk” Semins (July 8th)

Dead Air Featuring Head Count Executive Director Andy Bernstein – 5/30/23

Dead Air Featuring Arhoolie Foundation Executive Director John Leopold – 6/1/23

Dead Air Featuring Rex Foundation Executive Director Cameron Sears – 6/9/23

Dead Air Featuring Backline Co-Founder/Executive Director Hilary Gleason – 6/24/23

Dead Air Featuring Jason Scheuner (Grateful Guitars) – 7/7/23

Dead Air Featuring William “Hawk” Semins (Owsley Stanley Foundation) – 7/8/23

View Activist Organizations Interviews


The second-set “Drums” segments with Hart, Lane, and Burbridge featured a welcome new development during The Final Tour. On many show days, Hart took to his Instagram account to announce the “theme” for that night’s segment, with video and photos to go along with the percussive interlude. The themes fell into six underlying categories: broad concepts (Acoustics of Water, Rhythm’s Infinite Symphony, Yin and Yang, History of Underwater Diving), percussion instruments (The Beam, Conch, Prepared Piano, Gong, Anklung, Honk Night), places on earth (Great Pyramids, Rainforest, Golden Gate Bridge), places not on earth (The Cosmos, Gods, and Planets), living things (Serpents, Ants), and ice (Ice). We hope this practice continues into whatever iterations of the music come next.


We’re happy to report that there really were no off nights on The Final Tour. Part of it was that the band stuck to proven, favored material while avoiding working any new material into the repertoire. But in 2023, it was also coming from the ongoing self-reflection, gratitude, and recognizance (frequently mentioned in band members’ social media posts) that came from knowing the end of the D&C’s existence as a touring entity was coming.

But like all of Dead & Company’s previous tours, there were shows that stood out from the rest, and we’re recognizing them here in a bit more detail. (Also, for those keeping score at home, D&Cs early May shows at Jazz Fest and Cornell were not part of The Final Tour—we’re going by what’s on the tour shirt.)


Atlanta’s Cellairis Amphitheatre at Lakewood was a charmed location for Dead & Company—all four of their shows there. Earlier Lakewood shows in 2019 and 2021 made our Top Shows lists for those tours, and the 2016 show would have made that tour’s Top Shows list if we’d been doing our tour recaps then. In 2023, D&C made it four for four. The weather was refreshingly cooler than expected, and the first set contained several pleasant surprises, including an opening duo of “Cassidy” and “Deal”, a version of “Friend of the Devil” played in its slower, electric arrangement, and the tour’s only version of “If I Had the World to Give”. The second set’s pre-“Drums” segment launched with “Althea” and then featured the classic pairing of “China Cat Sunflower” and “I Know You Rider” in between another classic pairing of “Estimated Prophet” and “Eyes of the World”. However, the show reached stratospheric heights through towering versions of “Terrapin Station” and “Morning Dew” played back to back to conclude the evening, with the latter rivaling the version played three weeks earlier at Cornell’s Barton Hall. The set ran so long that the band hit curfew and couldn’t play an encore, but that was probably for the best because it ensured that Dead & Company rode out of Atlanta for the last time on a proverbial thundercloud. All hail Lakewood and its excellent staff.


Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but Dead & Company never played a show at Wrigley Field before the Chicago Cubs broke their 108-year drought by winning a World Series championship in 2016. And while the Cubs will continue to play at Wrigley for the foreseeable future, probably with mixed results, Dead & Company’s final appearance at the iconic stadium was a resounding win. It kicked off with a first set comprised almost entirely of “second set” songs, including the opening “Truckin'”, “Althea”, and “All Along the Watchtower”. However, the second set contained Field of Dreams levels of song wish fulfillment, with a performance to match. Not only was it tightly performed with maintained momentum, except for “Cumberland Blues”, the setlist on paper was essentially a classic 1977 Grateful Dead second set circa the band’s Winterland run in June 1977: “Help on the Way”, “Slipknot”, “Estimated Prophet”, “Uncle John’s Band”, and “Morning Dew”, all capped off with a rare three-song encore that incorporated the reprise of “Playing In The Band”, which had kicked off the run 28 hours earlier. All told, the partnership between Dead & Company, Wrigley Field, and Chicago turned out to be a successful one, and we will definitely miss those after-show noshes at Cheesie’s.


We can sum this one up in five words, “Dude! Scarlet Fire Estimated Eyes!”, but we’ll say more. One of the hallmarks of the final Dead & Company tour setlists was that nearly every era of the Grateful Dead’s 30-year career would get touched upon in a show. But along with its performance, this show stood out because, with the exception of the covers of Miles Davis’ “All Blues”, the show’s set list looked like a Grateful Dead setlist from the late-’80s In the Dark era, when many second-generation Deadheads discovered the band. First there was the opening “Feel Like a Stranger” and “Franklin’s Tower” (a common pairing from 1979 to 1989), then the tour’s final “Mama Tried”, “Alabama Getaway”, and at the end of the second set, there was “Cumberland Blues”, “All Along the Watchtower”, and “Morning Dew”. So far so excellent, but the real prize was the first four songs of the second set. For the first time in D&C’s history, the band knocked out the beloved and elusive four-song sequence of “Scarlet Begonias” > “Fire on the Mountain”, “Estimated Prophet”, and “Eyes of the World”. In Deadhead shorthand, the quadruple hit of “Scarlet Fire Estimated Eyes” was one of the best things that could happen at a Grateful Dead show (25 occurrences in total, all between 1978 and 1988), and it was just about always the sign that the band was having a hot night. “Brokedown Palace” made for a gentle close and a fitting goodbye to the city that’s served as the second home of Grateful Dead music for over five decades.


This Saturday show unfolded on a typically hot and humid New England summer evening at Fenway Park beginning with “Cassidy” and “Brown-Eyed Women” before a first-time-ever pairing of the tour’s final “I Need a Miracle” with “Here Comes Sunshine”. Later Burbridge provided an understated highlight with the tour’s final version of “China Doll”, and after an abbreviated set break, the band put the second set in motion with “New Speedway Boogie”, which jibed with the sweltering weather. But then, right as the band floated into “Dark Star”, a cool breeze blew in while a gorgeous sunset commenced, with the timing so perfect that it was almost as if it was all cued to the music. From there it became the most exploratory and experimental set of the tour, with 25 combined minutes of “Dark Star” and “The Other One” before “Terrapin Station”, followed by 45 cumulative minutes of “Drums”, “Space”, and a lengthy let’s-just-try-this-and-hey-it-works! segment comprised of an instrumental mashup of “Big River” and “Dark Star” before doubling back into several more instrumental minutes of “The Other One”. The band reached the venue’s curfew before the encore, which is often a telltale sign that things ran wild in a good way. If Dead & Company’s biggest, deepest jams are your thing, this was the night to catch.


Big things just kept on happening throughout Dead & Company’s final show at Folsom Field. After shooting out of the gate with “Bertha” and an exceptional “New Speedway Boogie”, the band was delivering one of the tour’s best first sets while grey Close Encounters-style clouds formed dramatically over the stadium. Three minutes into the set’s sixth song, “Playing in the Band”, a distant flash of lightning prompted a halt to the show, which then became the set break, though fortunately the nearby rainstorms never made it to the stadium. The band started the second set by resuming exactly where they’d left off and delivering an eight-song, hour-long segment that included the first set’s remaining songs, including “Uncle John’s Band”, before the “Help>Slipknot>Franklin’s” trio (with Chimenti in particular shining on the latter), and “He’s Gone” > “The Other One”. So far, so excellent, but the show’s final hour cemented this one’s legendary status. First, a blue curtain of 600 drones dramatically rose from behind the stage during “Space” and morphed into a stealie skull and a dancing bear in the night sky above the stage. That primed the crowd for Weir’s impassioned, echo-enhanced delivery of “Standing on the Moon” while a full moon just happened to be rising over the stadium. But there was still more, as musical guest Dave Matthews sat in with his trademark acoustic guitar for the rest of the show. First up was Matthews’ tense, effective arrangement of “All Along the Watchtower” before “Not Fade Away”, and after a two-song encore of ‘Knocking on Heavens Door” and the tour’s final version of “The Weight”, the drones returned to spell out, “Please Be Kind.” Between the location, the music, and the night’s “big things,” this was the signature show of The Final Tour.


The first set of D&C’s final show at The Gorge kicked off with generous versions of “Mississippi Half Step” and “Here Comes Sunshine” before “Loose Lucy”. They contrasted nicely with lush versions of “Lost Sailor” and “Saint of Circumstance” that got the full benefit of the spectacular views from the lawn as the sun headed for the horizon to start “magic hour.” The second set’s song choices were on a Make-A-Wish level, starting with a page from the Grateful Dead’s 1976 comeback-era playbook: a 30-minute trip where “Playing in the Band” segued into “The Wheel” before returning to the “Playing” reprise, all during an archetypal Gorge sunset. From there it was 45 minutes of 1969 Live Dead-era psychedelia via “St. Stephen”, “The Eleven”, and the tour’s final “Dark Star” surrounding the “Drums” and “Space” segments, while the closing trip consisted of a stop in 1979 for Mayer’s signature song, “Althea”, before a pair of 1972 classics, “Stella Blue” and “One More Saturday Night”. And yes, even in the middle of nowhere, Dead & Company still found a way to play so long they had to skip the encore. But it mattered little by then, as sated Deadheads headed back to the campgrounds to partake in whatever until whenever. If you haven’t made it to The Gorge for live music yet, we encourage you to consider adding it to your bucket list.


Dead & Company’s final show of The Final Tour started a full hour earlier than usual, leading to speculation that the band would play a third set, possibly with Bill Kreutzmann, in a mirror of Hart’s return to the Grateful Dead at their “final” show in 1974. However, the band ultimately used the added time to play two slightly extended sets and a longer encore without fear of running up against the venue’s curfew. The nine-song first set stuck mostly to 1970s-era GD classics, highlighted by “Bertha” and “Good Lovin’” to open, Burbridge’s final lead vocal on “High Time”, “Althea”, and the closing “Bird Song”. By process of elimination, setlist watchers made accurate prognostications of what was still left to play, and it all followed, in top form. The “Help > Slipknot > Franklin’s” trio preceded “Estimated > Eyes”, and the ensuing “Drums” segment concluded with Hart delivering one of the tour’s most intense and inspired performances on the beam. Next, the fleet of 600 drones that first appeared in Boulder two weeks earlier made its expected appearance during “Space”—this time word had gotten out about it several days earlier. It all set the table for Weir to belt out his now-signature version of Garcia/Hunter’s “The Days Between” (he’s truly made this one his own) before the high-energy finish of “Cumberland Blues” and “Sugar Magnolia”. The encore’s three songs were all expected, welcome, and gratifying: “Truckin’”, “Brokedown Palace”, and the final verse of “Not Fade Away”, which had opened Friday’s show, contained one last savor-the-moment jam before its calculated fade-out. After the band and crew took their final bows, the drones returned to display Gary Gutierrez’ iconic “Sam” skeleton tipping his hat.

And like that, they were gone. At least for now. Just two days after tour’s conclusion, Mayer confirmed via social media what hadn’t quite been said out loud until then: “Dead & Company are still a band. We just don’t know when the next show is.”

The remaining official merchandise from Dead & Company’s final tour is available here. Dead & Company’s live show archive is available at Bob Weir & Wolf Bros fall 2023 tour dates and tickets are available here, Oteil & Friends fall 2023 tour dates and tickets are available here.

Revisit previous L4LM Dead & Company tour recaps using the links below:

2018 Summer Tour
2019 Summer Tour
2019 Fun Run
2021 Summer/Fall Tour
2022 Summer Tour