Dead & Company brought their farewell tour to Dallas, Texas’ Dos Equis Pavilion for a night of intergenerational Memorial Day memory making. Bob Weir, guitarist for both Dead & Co and, of course, the source, the OG Grateful Dead, has seen more of these weekends and crowds than any of us can easily imagine. Thanks to the fresh blood in the current iteration brought in by newer partners in crime like guitarist and vocalist John Mayer and bassist (and much requested but rarely heard vocalist) Oteil Burbridge (“Let Oteil SING!”) help keep things alive and ever evolving.

On the surface, it was as described, another solid performance from a rock-solid band playing material that has proven itself over five straight decades. The two newest songs played last night were both 36 years old, but no one in the crowd expected anything less. The first set was a mix of singalong happy grooves like “Good Times”, “Hell In A Bucket”, some hardcore even older tunes like “Big Railroad Blues”, “Ship Of Fools”, which saw Oteil getting to sing a little bit, and pleasant surprises like Mayer’s crushing guitar solo on “Brown Eyed Women”, which left the crowd eager for more, as it should.

Dead & Company – “Good Times” (Sam Cooke) – 5/26/23

The second set got a bit darker, more atmospheric, and generally out there, as it so often does. The murder and revenge fable of “Jack Straw” got the show going again with some lovely work from keyboardist Jeff Chimenti, who was fabulous all night. The smiles and upbeat “Truckin’” gave way to the heart of the evening performance, a long run that comprised almost the entirety of the second set, running from the aforementioned “Truckin’” through an unfinished “Playing In The Band” before dissolving into the face stealing, exploratory “Drums” and “Space”.

Dead & Company – “Jack Straw” – 5/26/23

It’s hard to say how drummers Mickey Hart and Jay Lane manage to find new territory to explore each night, but that’s the beauty of improvisational music. The improvisational bit is the source of the mystique and generational love the Grateful Dead songbook has engendered. Unlike the rigid canons of classical composers, the songbook of the Grateful Dead was designed to be a living organism unto itself. Fans of this type of sonic expression are in the crowd night after night, eager to see musicians they trust craft the material through the lens of the moment, and to share the experience with like-minded folks.

There were many full families in the audience, some three and even four generations strong, arm-in-arm and singing along, celebrating the end of the creation era for what is regarded as one of the great songbooks of the modern world.

Bob Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower” signaled a return to Earth and a quick “Playing In The Band” reprise gave closure to the completists in the crowd. After spending some time “Standing On The Moon” and surveying the evening works, the set closed, as it so often has for every iteration of the Dead, with the proclamation that “Love Is Real” with The Crickets classic “Not Fade Away”. On the surface, it was a show that could have been played 30 years ago, but thanks to the ingenuity of the music’s creators, the songs have found a way to live and be fresh every evening even after nearly 60 years.

As we watch the beginning of the twilight, we’re forced to see parallels in our own lives that we might sometimes avoid. What will our own legacies be? That multi-generation families can come together at these events and ponder these questions together is a beautiful benefit of the Grateful Dead, and the fact that they get to do it while some of the few whose union helped create this uniting force are still around, that’s a gift that will be considered priceless when it can no longer be done.

Yes, Bobby is a smidge slower than he used to be; Yes, there is more than a “Touch Of Grey” in the hair of the music makers at this point in their lives; And finally, yes, this is all just an echo of the majesty that was the Grateful Dead in their prime, but it’s also a chance to see the final moments of a sound so cherished that it will be reverberating for centuries to come. Because love IS real, not fade away. And the applause goes on…


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Dead & Company – “Brown Eyed Women” – 5/26/23

[Video: Calvin Stephano]

Dead & Company – “Truckin'” > “He’s Gone” – 5/26/23

[Video: Calvin Stephano]

Setlist: Dead & Company | Dos Equis Pavilion | Dallas, TX | 5/26/23

Set 1: Good Times (Sam Cooke), Hell In A Bucket, Big Railroad Blues (Cannon’s Jug Stompers), Lost Sailor > Saint Of Circumstance, Ship Of Fools, Brown Eyed Women, Music Never Stopped

Set 2: Jack Straw, Truckin’ > He’s Gone > Playing In The Band > Uncle John’s Band > Drums > Space > All Along The WatchTower (Dylan) > Playing In The Band > Standing’ On The Moon > Not Fade Away (The Crickets)

Encore: Touch Of Grey