Dead & Company traveled to Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls, OH on Tuesday to open the Midwestern leg of the band’s summer tour. Among the highlights of the show was the first “Next Time You See Me” in over three years.
The concert opened up with a rollicking “Let The Good Times Roll”, a frequent favorite of the Grateful Dead‘s during the Brent Mydland era and also played selectively in the Vince Welnick years. Guitarists/vocalists Bob Weir and John Mayer traded vocal passages back and forth on the song originally published as “Good Times” by Sam Cooke. Though nobody can touch Mydland’s powerful backing vocals, Weir, Mayer, and keyboardist Jeff Chimenti came together to form a chorus of voices that loudly proclaimed the party had begun.
Dead & Company – “Let The Good Times Roll” – Cuyahoga Falls, OH – 9/7/21
Things really got underway as drummers Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart dropped the group straight into “Feel Like A Stranger”, with Oteil Burbridge adding wet, thumping basslines to the 80s Dead staple. Vocal performances were strong all around as Mayer added his high falsetto prior to taking the charge with a silky guitar solo that saw the rest of Dead & Co ensconce themselves around him musically.
Coming out of the dark mist of “Feel Like A Stranger”, Dead & Company dusted off “Next Time You See Me” for the first time since 6/13/18 in Hartford, CT. The band’s first version of the Ron “Pigpen” McKernan-era cover could be construed as an early birthday celebration for the original Grateful Dead frontman, born on September 8th, 1945.
The cards were then dealt for a Bob Weir-led “Loser”, with Chimenti emerging from the dark corner of stage right to offer honky-tonk piano leads. Mayer then controlled the mic for what has become one of his signature songs, “They Love Each Other”, as his vocal and guitar prowess were both put on full display for the lengthy telling. The first frame came to a close with a one-two punch of “Cassidy” into “Bird Song” that, all told, comprised over 32 minutes.
To open up the second set, Mayer dug into what has seemingly become his most comfortable song of the Deadbook, “Althea”. The crooner’s buttery vocals coalesced with his smooth guitar fills to churn out yet another standout performance of the Jerry Garcia favorite. The ensuing summer-tinged “Scarlet Begonias” was briefly separated from its partner “Fire On The Mountain” for a partial telling of “Viola Lee Blues”, containing only the first two verses.
Dead & Company – “Althea” – Cuyahoga Falls, OH – 9/7/21
“Scarlet” and “Fire” were ultimately joined, however, as Oteil stepped to the mic as well as dominated the mix with his potent basslines. The smooth waves of the reggae-soaked track continued to roll back and forth to the shores of Blossom Music Center before the serotonin-inducing guitar riff of “Eyes Of The World” chimed through the amphitheater. The serene rendition of the Wake of the Flood track was prodded along to jazzy territory courtesy of Chimenti’s grand piano as Mayer pushed the envelope with dissonant guitar phrasings.
Just as things began to reach critical mass in the “Eyes” jam, the band turned the reigns over to the Rhythm Devils for Drums/Space. Emerging out of “Space”, Weir took the lead for a reflective “Standing On The Moon” before things came full circle with the third verse of “Viola Lee Blues”. Dead & Company ended things on a stomp with “Not Fade Away” as they temporarily shuffled offstage to thunderous applause. Upon their return, Weir and Mayer split vocal duties on a tranquil “Brokedown Palace” to send everyone home.
Dead & Company’s summer tour continues on Friday at DTE Energy Music Theatre in Clarkston, MI. For tickets and a full list of Dead & Company tour dates visit the band’s website. Full audio of Tuesday’s show is available thanks to taper Toaste.
Dead & Company – Blossom Music Center – Cuyahoga Falls, OH – 9/7/21 – Full Audio
Setlist: Dead & Company | Blossom Music Center | Cuyahoga Falls, OH | 9/7/21
Set One: Let The Good Times Roll, Feel Like A Stranger, Next Time You See Me , Loser, They Love Each Other, Cassidy > Bird Song
Set Two Althea, Scarlet Begonias > Viola Lee Blues  > Fire On The Mountain > Eyes Of The World > Drums/Space > Standing On The Moon > Viola Lee Blues  > Not Fade Away
Encore: Brokedown Palace
 LTP 6/13/18
 Verses 1 and 2 only
 Verse 3 only