UPDATE 4/18/20: Tonight, Dead & Company will air a live re-broadcast of this 6/22/18 performance at Alpine Valley Music Theatre as part of their ongoing One More Saturday Night archival webcast series. You can watch the live stream and read along with our initial review of the show below:
Dead & Company – 6/22/18 – Live Re-Broadcast
On Friday night, Dead & Company headed to Wisconsin, performing at the legendary Alpine Valley Music Theatre as a follow-up to the group’s 100th show on Wednesday at Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio’s Blossom Music Center. The show was a spectacular taste of what’s to come as the group gears up for night two at Alpine Valley and showed the Grateful Dead-inspired band in truly proper form.
Increasingly, Dead & Company have been flexing their musical muscles, getting more and more experimental with setlists and clearly having a lot of fun doing it. While the first few years of the project’s existence saw the band offering relatively straightforward jams, both within and across songs, Dead & Company has been stepping outside the box—as evidenced by last night’s show in Alpine Valley.
Notably, the first set opened with a jam that eventually landed in the first song of the night, “Hell in a Bucket”. While not necessarily a new or innovative concept as a whole, Dead & Company has increasingly used this technique to start shows this tour, also making for a triumphant moment when the group finds itself in the first song of set one. From there, the group offered up takes on “Brown-Eyed Women”, with both John Mayer and Jeff Chimenti highlighed, before moving into a rendition of “Greatest Story Ever Told” led by Bob Weir. Up next was “Deep Elem Blues”, which saw Mayer, Weir, and bassist Oteil Burbridge swapping verses—a major crowd pleaser for fans who consistently remain in the mindset, “Let Oteil Sing.”
Dead & Company followed up “Deep Elem Blues” with a rendition of “Even So”, a song from Weir’s former project, Ratdog. The band had only performed the song once before in 2016, when the group debuted it as a tribute to Weir’s former Ratdog bandmate, Rob Wasserman, in Boulder, Colorado. To close out the set, Dead & Co offered up takes on “Ramble On Rose”, “Cassidy”, and “Touch Of Grey”.
As noted previously, Dead & Company has been taking more risks, including in how they choose to set-up their setlists. As a follow-up to the band’s show in Hartford on June 13th, the group continued to split up “Viola Lee Blues” in the second set. While the Hartford, Connecticut show saw the group perform the first two verses of “Viola Lee Blues” after the set-opening “Feel Like A Stranger” and the third verse after “Drums/Space”, Dead & Company expanded on this concept. Last night, Viola Lee Blues was split into its three distinct verses, with the first verse starting the second set, the second verse leading into “Drums/Space”, and the third verse coming ahead of the set-closing “Goin’ Down The Road Feelin’ Bad”.
Other highlights of the second set included Oteil’s rendition of “China Doll”, plus two relatively rare covers that made it in toward the end of the set. Maurice Williams & The Zodiacs’ “Stay” found its way into the vocal jam of “The Wheel”, which led out of the group’s sprawling “Drums” and “Space”. “Stay” was followed up by another choice cover, Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”, before the group found its way back into the second set’s primary theme of “Viola Lee Blues”. Closing out the show, Bob Weir and John Mayer went acoustic for a touching rendition of “Ripple”.
Setlist: Dead & Company | Alpine Valley Music Theatre | East Troy, WI | 6/22/2018
Set 1: Jam > Hell in a Bucket, Brown-Eyed Women, Greatest Story Ever Told, Deep Elem Blues, Even So, Ramble On Rose, Cassidy, Touch of Grey
Set 2: Viola Lee Blues (Verse 1), Estimated Prophet, Uncle John’s Band, China Doll, Viola Lee Blues (Verse 2), Drums > Space, The Wheel, Stay, A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall, Viola Lee Blues (Verse 3), Going Down the Road Feelin’ Bad