After leaving Bristow, Virginia in a divine afterglow, Dead & Company moved its friendly caravan down the road to Charlotte, North Carolina performing at the spacious, outdoor PNC Music Pavilion last night. The band, which consists of Grateful Dead members Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann, and Mickey Hart alongside John Mayer, Oteil Burbridge, and Jeff Chimenti, took the stage just as the scorchin’ hot day finally began to cool down.
Opening the first set, Dead & Company rolled into town in true hallucinogenic tradition with the meandering introduction to “Truckin’” that left tire track marks imprinted in the minds of the audience. Weir’s vocals sounded especially strong with a well-timed cuss added into the infamous verse, “What in the world ever happened to Sweet Jane, she lost her head and ya know she isn’t the same, livin’ on Reds, Vitamin C, and cocaine, all a friend can say is ain’t it a f***** shame!”
Chiminti’s piano and Weir’s charismatic lyrics injected life into the beloved Jerry Garcia & Robert Hunter “Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodleloo” as Mayer’s guitar cut through parachute lines to give the audience the floating feeling of free-fall throughout the euphoric ending. The crescendo rhythm of “They Love Each Other” materialized with Mayer on lead vocals and Burbridge’s angelic voice supporting throughout choral harmonies of Garcia & Hunter’s heartfelt tune.
Mayer, wearing cut-off shorts that were reminiscent of Weir’s youth, remained at the vocal helm as he led the band through the crowd favorite “Brown-Eyed Women” with a sweet exchange of solos between Mayer and Chimenti. Slowing down the tempo for the third consecutive G & H tune with “To Lay Me Down”, Mayer featured his pedal steel guitar as well as Weir and Burbridge contributed toward the heart wrenching vocals.
Pickin’ up the tempo and intensity, “Mister Charlie” emerged next, a song in which Pigpen and Hunter co-wrote and debuted at the Yale Bowl in New Haven, Connecticut on the Summer tour of 1971. Mayer’s fingers flew in an impressive display of showmanship before Weir took over for a soaring flight through John Perry Barlow & Weir’s “Cassidy”, written in honor of Neal Cassady, the real-life basis of the character Dean Moriarty in Jack Kerouac’s generation-defining book, On the Road.
Finishing out the first set, the band shoveled coal into the locomotive engine of “Casey Jones” building in tempo and vigor with each line of lyrical cocaine that the conductor ingested until the eventual crash that spurred the popular historical legend.
Dead & Company – “Truckin'” – 6/28/2019
[Video: Dead & Company]
After a set break gave the audience a chance to cool off in the shade with refreshments, the band returned to the stage to work their way into an explosive jubilee, “Deal” after some loose guitar diddling. Following a handful of teases, namely “Wharf Rat”, the band, led by a timeless Weir, unleashed the supernova jam “Dark Star” upon the astounded audience. While some returned to their senses to enjoy the magnitude of the jam, others were too close to the epicenter to recover and spent the entirety of the nearly 20-minute long jam floating weightlessly in cosmic orbit before the grounding rhythm of “Estimated Prophet” brought them back to Earth. Mayer’s guitar playing was the lightning and Weir’s powerful voice the thunder, and together they took the North Carolinian audience by storm.
The funky melodies continued with a sun-bleached, acid-drenched take on “Eyes of the World” which bounced its carefree melody until a lengthy “Drums” section was beat into existence by the percussionists as Kreutzmann and Hart. Keeping up with tradition, an obscure “Space” traveled to the outer boundaries of unfamiliar galaxies. Hart was the captain of this cosmic expedition as he piloted his self-devised instrument of the otherworld known as The Beam.
The rest of the band emerged from the shadows to expound on their earlier tease and flew away with a majestic performance of “Wharf Rat.” Arguably the highlight of the night, Bobby’s powerful vocals on Hunter’s lyrics were wielded with tactful precision and command. To round out the second set, the band quickened the pace for a barefoot dance around “Sugar Magnolia” > “Sunshine Daydream.”
The band finished out the incredible night of music with a solo encore of “Touch of Grey” from the 1987 album In the Dark.
Dead & Company – “Deal” – 6/28/2019
[Video: Dead & Company]
Dead & Co. returns to the road for an evening in Atlanta, Georgia at the Cellairis Amphitheatre at Lakewood tonight before the final three stops of their summer tour with the final two shows being hosted by Folsom Field in Boulder, Colorado on July 5th-6th. Catch ‘em while you can, Dead & Co. is surely a can’t miss for fans, young and old, as the music itself is timeless. Ticket to can be purchased here.
Below, you can check out a gallery of Dead & Company’s Charlotte show courtesy of Carol Spagnuola.
Setlist: Dead & Company | PNC Pavilion | Charlotte, NC | 6/28/2019
Set One: Truckin’ >Mississippi Half Step Uptown Toodeloo, They Love Each Other, Brown Eyed Women, To Lay Me Down, Mr. Charlie, Cassidy > Casey Jones
Set Two: Deal > Dark Star > Estimated Prophet > Eyes Of The World > Drums/Space >Wharf Rat > Sugar Magnolia
Encore: Touch of Grey