Dead & Company made their return to the historic Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in Bethel, NY last night, just shy of 53 years since the Grateful Dead‘s performance at Woodstock, which took place on the same grounds.
The lineup featuring John Mayer, Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, Oteil Burbridge, Jeff Chimenti, and Jay Lane, who once again filled in on drums for Bill Kreutzmann, took the stage just after 7:00 p.m., the summer sun still high in the sky, and got the good times rollin’ with Grateful Dead classic “Deal”. The show opener was highlighted by a rocking mid-song organ solo from Jeff Chimenti. Mayer sang lead vocals and offered a high-energy solo of his own before leading the group to the song’s a cappella ending, which faded out gently as the crowd welcomed the band with grateful cheers.
Dead & Company – “Deal”
Dead & Company then struck a chord both literally and figuratively as they launched into crowd favorite “Shakedown Street”, with Bob Weir and John Mayer splitting vocal duties on the groovy disco Dead tune. Next came the tour debut of Jimmy Reed‘s “Big Boss Man”, which had not been played by the band since their show at The Forum in L.A. back in December of 2019.
The Robert Hunter-penned “It Must Have Been the Roses” came next, before the band picked the energy back up with the uptempo “Me and My Uncle”. The John Phillips cowboy ballad led directly into another western classic, Merle Haggard‘s “Mama Tried”. Dead & Co wrapped up set one with “If I had the World to Give” and the third movement of “Weather Report Suite”, “Let It Grow”, which has often been used by the band as a set one closer.
After a short set break, Dead & Company returned to the stage and kicked off set two on a positive note with Sam Cooke‘s “Good Times”, a song more often found at the front of first sets. The soulful set opener gave way to “Dark Star”, signaling the start of predictably far out set two explorations. After completing just the first verse of the song, the band put off the second as they jammed their way into the compositionally ambitious “Help on the Way” and its customary successor “Slipknot!”. The band then brought things back to center, rolling away the dew with “Franklin’s Tower” before giving the drummer some during “Drums”.
Dead & Company – “Good Times” (Sam Cooke)
The Mickey-led percussion break disintegrated into the amorphous sounds of “Space” as the band slowly pieced itself back together to conclude set two, ultimately riding out of “Space” with a detour to the second verse of “Dark Star” to bring the interpolated sequence to a close. Next came one of John Mayer’s favorite Dead tunes, “Althea”, and the band wrapped up the set with “Death Don’t Have No Mercy”, a Reverend Gary Davis cover originally sung by Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, and “Not Fade Away”.
After a brief encore break, the band returned for an emotional rendition of Merle Haggard’s “Sing Me Back Home” to close out the night.
Dead & Company’s summer tour continues tonight at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusettes. To view a full list of tour dates and purchase tickets, visit the band’s website.
Setlist: Dead & Company | Bethel Woods Center for the Arts | Bethel, NY | 7/1/22
Set 1: Deal, Shakedown Street, Big Boss Man (Jimmy Reed), It Must Have Been the Roses (Robert Hunter), Me and My Uncle (John Phillips) > Mama Tried (Merle Haggard), If I Had the World to Give, Let It Grow
Set 2: Good Times (Sam Cooke) > Dark Star (verse 1) > Help on the Way > Slipknot! > Franklin’s Tower > Drums > Space > Dark Star (verse 2), Althea, Death Don’t Have No Mercy (Reverend Gary Davis) > Not Fade Away (Buddy Holly)
Encore: Sing Me Back Home (Merle Haggard)