With the help of American Express, the Dead & Company band presented a free show at New York’s Madison Square Garden last night. Packed with enthusiastic fans, Dead & Company continued their path to jam band domination with expert musicianship and improvisation.
The first notes of “Shakedown Street” always seem to indicate a good time ahead, and this show held true to that philosophy. The band was firing and letting loose, feeling warmed up straight out of the gate. “I Need A Miracle” followed, a thematically-appropriate choice for the free show. The “miracle”, of course, was the performance itself, as tens of thousands of Deadheads were able to see their favorite band for free.
The overall vibe of the first set was a slowed down, bluesy folk rocking pace. Tracks like “Cold Rain and Snow”, “Tennessee Jed”, “They Love Each Other”, and “Jack Straw” served to keep things light and grooving, with guitarists John Mayer and Bob Weir trading licks and vocals throughout.
Second set got cooking quickly, with an opening trio of “Help On The Way > Slipknot! > Franklin’s Tower” that was, by all accounts, incredible. Here, Mayer was really able to show off his abilities as a lead guitarist, mastering the difficult melodies and transitions of the songs with ease. He was simply on point.
Enough can’t be said about bassist Oteil Burbridge, who provided an excellent bottom for this all-star cast of characters. Burbridge spoke with L4LM recently, saying, “Magic is real. It’s called Love. Love is magic and all kinds of impossible things can happen because of it. It can make the most cruel, judgmental, and self righteous Deadhead fall in love with John Mayer.” This was pure magic, and the Deadheads in MSG certainly fell in love with the whole ensemble.
A slowed down “He’s Gone” came out next, giving keyboardist Jeff Chimenti the chance to shine on the B3 organs. Next up was the illustrious “St. Stephen”, played masterfully with Mayer absolutely nailing the lead guitar parts, and tone.
That faded into a “Drums” segment, that saw Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart get experimental on their drum kits. They were even joined by Oteil Burbridge at one point, who added some drumming to the mixture. Finally, Kreutzmann and Burbridge left, and Hart ushered in a “Space” jam segment.
Slowly but surely, the band found their way into “The Other One”. The pulsing rhythm gave away the song selection, and the Company absolutely owned this version. It was particularly patient, building into a veritable frenzy. After a calming “Stella Blue”, Dead & Co brought the set to a close with the Buddy Holly classic, “Not Fade Away”. Love is real, not fade away.
To close the performance, Dead & Company gave their best version of “Brokedown Palace”, with Mayer and Weir trading vocals throughout. A perfect, emotional ending to a fantastic night of music. Until next time, Dead & Company!
FULL SHOW Streaming Now:
Setlist: Dead & Company at Madison Square Garden, New York, NY – 11/7/15
Set I: Shakedown Street bw > I Need A Miracle bw > Cold Rain and Snow jm, Tennessee Jed bw, They Love Each Other jm, Jack Straw bw jm
Set II: Help On The Way bw > Slipknot! > Franklin’s Tower jm > He’s Gone bw jm > St. Stephen bw jm > Drums > Space > The Other One bw > Stella Blue bw, Not Fade Away all
E:Brokedown Palace bw jm
[H/T: Amy Sheridan]