2015 was a true celebration of all things Grateful Dead, as the storied jam band celebrated their 50th anniversary with a series of reunion shows over the summer. The shows were the last true reunions of the Core Four—the four surviving core members of the Dead: Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Mickey Hart, and Bill Kreutzmann. The quartet were joined by part-time member Bruce Hornsby on piano, longtime Furthur collaborator Jeff Chimenti on keys, and Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio on lead guitar.
The band had initially announced a series of three shows to be held at Chicago’s Soldier Field over July 4th weekend. While the central location was chosen to accommodate fans nationwide, the band thought twice about their Bay Area heritage and soon added two more shows in Santa Clara, CA, scheduled for June 27th and 28th, 2015. Four years later, the five shows stand out as something of a Grateful Dead revival, which has led to the new Dead & Company band taking charge musically.
The first show itself saw the band returning to form, bringing out a number of classic tunes including the opener, “Truckin’.” The first set featured a number of early songs from the Dead’s career as well, including “Uncle John’s Band,” “Alligator,” “Cumberland Blues,” “Born Cross-Eyed,” “Cream Puff War,” and “Viola Lee Blues.” Not a single song was written past 1970 at the show, with “Cream Puff War” and the second set’s “What’s Become Of The Baby” emerging as the biggest surprises.
The show also featured a “The Other One” suite sandwich, opening with “Cryptical Envelopment” and ending with “The Other One” into “Morning Dew.” That jam session featured “Dark Star,” “St. Stephen,” “The Eleven,” “Turn On Your Love Light,” and a psychedelic “Drums/Space.” The show ended with “Casey Jones” bringing it home in fine fashion.
Music aside, one of the more memorable moments from the first show was its rainbow. While the rainbow occurred naturally, as most rainbows do, an article in Billboard suggested that promoter Peter Shapiro spent $50,000 for a rainbow machine to create the effect. Jerry Garcia must have smiled down on the shows after all…
Check out videos, full audio, and a setlist below.
Setlist: Grateful Dead | “Fare Thee Well” | Levi’s Stadium | Santa Clara, CA | 6/27/15
Set I: Jam -> Truckin’, Uncle John’s Band, Alligator -> Cumberland Blues, Born Cross-Eyed > Cream Puff War, Viola Lee Blues
Set II: Cryptical Envelopment -> Dark Star -> St. Stephen -> The Eleven -> Turn On Your Love Light -> Drums/Space -> What’s Become Of The Baby -> The Other One – > Morning Dew
Encore: Casey Jones
[Video: Ed Congdon]
“Turn On Your Love Light”
[Originally published 7/27/16]