Woah, oh, what I want to know: where does the time go?
Dead & Company brought its 2022 summer tour to a climactic finish on Saturday with a show at Citi Field in New York, NY. The second of two concerts at the home of the MLB‘s New York Mets featured drummer Bill Kreutzmann, who just the previous evening made his triumphant return after missing the majority of the Grateful Dead offshoot’s 20-date tour due to a pair of medical setbacks.
The starting six of Dead & Company took the diamond at Citi Field to open with “Playing In The Band”. The de facto leader Bob Weir sounded a bit hoarse coming out of the dugout, showing difficulty hitting the high notes on the opening number. This merely relayed the signal to guitarist John Mayer to take up the mantle as he smoothed things out with some serene, buoyant leads as soft as water. The elements soon shifted as the water turned to fire and sparks began to fly, only for Mayer to pull back into a late-night blues riff despite the fact it was only 7:45 in the evening.
Dead & Company – “Playing In The Band” [Pro-Shot] – 7/16/22
Not stopping for a moment, Mayer dropped into the descending riff of “Uncle John’s Band” as he assisted Weir with the vocal workload. Together, they shouldered the Workingman’s Dead classic ahead of a segue into an early-show cover of Traffic‘s “Dear Mr. Fantasy”. The late-’80s Grateful Dead favorite fit perfectly into the bluesy tones Mayer had been throwing out so far, as the Jerry Garcia ringer also took on the weight of the vocal responsibilities.
Following some incendiary organ work from Jeff Chimenti that recalled the late, great Brent Mydland, “Mr. Fantasy” led into a reprise of The Beatles‘ “Hey Jude”, its eternal partner in the Dead’s stadium era. Dead & Company showed off set two-level vitality for keeping the continuous stream of music going into “Ramble On Rose”. The song contained the first of two New York references of the evening and gave Jeff another opportunity to take his moment in the spotlight.
The first stoppage in play of the show gave the band a chance to regroup for “Brown-Eyed Women”, prior to a set-closing “Jack Straw”. By this point in the evening, Weir had—on the fly—learned the temporary limitations of his vocal range and was now gingerly staying between those lines. While singing has never been necessarily at the forefront of the Grateful Dead’s focus—at least not since Phil Lesh bowed out of three-part harmonies—Weir’s vocal difficulties pushed improvisation even further toward the centerpiece of Saturday’s performance.
Dead & Company started set two off with yet another reference to the Big Apple with “Truckin'”. At one point during the song, Jerry’s mugshot from the infamous bust down on Bourbon Street flashed onscreen.
Dead & Company – “Truckin'” > “Wang Dang Doodle” (Willie Dixon) [Pro-Shot] – 7/16/22
With all of the pieces in play, the band was geared to set up a transitional musical movement that would last through the entire second frame, segueing into their first take on Willie Dixon‘s “Wang Dang Doodle” since 6/7/17 and the fourth overall. The cover conjured images of tank top-clad, short shorts wearing Bob Weir of the 1980s, and brought a different kind of nostalgia to the show.
From there it was back to the classics with “Scarlet Begonias” as Dead & Company dug into the improvisational meat of the second set. Mayer and Chimenti tapped into their twin-like telepathy during the improvisation that ultimately led into “Franklin’s Tower” for just the second time ever since the pairing’s debut on 7/14/18. Dead & Company proved on Saturday that they can still surprise fans with unique setlists, with even more unusual placements to follow.
Out of “Franklin’s Tower”, the band connected back to the Primal Dead era with the ’60s improvisational gems “St. Stephen” > “William Tell Bridge” > “The Eleven”. With no more dates on the tour calendar, Dead & Company left nothing in the reserves for this performance, mining all the hallowed points of the Dead’s illustrious history.
A lineup change followed as Weir, Chimenti, and Mayer left the stage, leaving Kreutzmann, Hart, and Burbridge for “Drums” before a call to the bullpen brought up Jay Lane. Weir’s longtime drummer across numerous projects had served as Kreutzmann’s relief pitcher for much of the tour, but on Saturday they played side-by-side for one final rhythmic odyssey.
Weir, Chimenti, and Mayer re-entered the chat as Lane stepped off, taking the ambient soundscape of “Space” and building into a climactic jam that eventually revealed itself as Bob Dylan‘s “All Along The Watchtower”. His strained vocal chords be damned, Weir howled this cover for all his body would let him as the band took that momentum into “Morning Dew”. The final song of the final set of the final show on Dead & Company’s 2022 summer tour carried with it as much raw emotion as one would expect, and there’s no better song to close the show with as Mayer’s post-apocalyptic leads left Citi Field a desolate wasteland.
Coming back out onstage, Dead & Company still had one more surprise left with the first-ever encore of “Deal”. The titular inspiration for Kreutzmann’s stellar 2015 memoir felt like more than just coincidence as the band rang out the final notes, only to finish the ending of the second set-opening “Playing In The Band” to close the show and the tour.
Check out a collection of fan-shot videos from Dead & Company at Citi Field below.
Dead & Company – “Dear Mr. Fantasy” (Traffic) > “Hey Jude” (The Beatles) – 7/16/22
[Video: j cornell]
Dead & Company – “Jack Straw” – 7/16/22
[Video: Mark Krzos]
Dead & Company – “All Along The Watchtower” (Bob Dylan) – 7/16/22
Dead & Company – “Morning Dew” – 7/16/22
[Video: Mark Krzos]
Setlist: Dead & Company | Citi Field | New York, NY | 7/16/22
Set One: Playing in the Band > Uncle John’s Band > Dear Mr. Fantasy (Traffic) > Hey Jude Reprise (The Beatles) > Ramble On Rose, Brown-Eyed Women, Jack Straw
Set Two: Truckin’ > Wang Dang Doodle (Willie Dixon)  > Scarlet Begonias > Franklin’s Tower > St. Stephen > William Tell Bridge > The Eleven > Drums  > Space > All Along the Watchtower (Bob Dylan) > Morning Dew
Encore: Deal  > Playin’ Reprise
 LTP 6/7/17
 w/ Bill, Mickey, Oteil, and Jay Lane
 FTP as encore