Dead & Company tour continued on Wednesday night with a stop at the venue formerly known as Deer Creek that saw the sextet expertly alternate between deep, jazz-oriented improv and classic blues jams.

While the Dead & Co headline of the day had been the announcement of two last-minute shows at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, the evening belonged to the fan-favorite Noblesville, IN shed, a place that had already logged a long, storied history in Grateful Dead lore prior to the infamous gate-crashing incident on the band’s final tour. That destructive evening in 1995 had marked the end of the road for the Grateful Dead in Noblesville, but Dead & Company has returned on various occasions to mend fences.

This time around, Bob WeirMickey HartBill KreutzmannJohn MayerOteil Burbridge, and Jeff Chimenti started off a long, long, crazy night at Deer Creek with a patient “Feel Like A Stranger” that wandered down dark, dank corridors for more than fifteen minutes before moving into “They Love Each Other”, letting the light shine in while maintaining the purposeful swagger of the opening tune.

Dead & Company – “Feel Like A Stranger” [Pro-Shot] – 9/15/21

After a quick jaunt through “Me and My Uncle”, Mayer lead the way on sweet “Brown-Eyed Woman” sing-along. Next, Burbridge—who had already been an early favorite for set one MVP—took an always-welcome turn on lead vocals for the tour debut of Jerry Garcia/Robert Hunter ballad “If I Had The World To Give” before Mayer drove it home with a hair-raising solo.

Dead & Company – “Brown Eyed Women” – 9/15/21

[Video: The Zalewski Law Firm]

“Dire Wolf” was up next, offering Mayer and Chimenti more opportunities to go toe-to-toe, before the tour’s first rendition of Bob Dylan‘s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” and speeding “Big Railroad Blues” brought set one to a close.

Mayer once again took lead vocals as Dead & Company kicked off Deer Creek set two with “Sugaree”. Always a highlight tune for the singer/guitarist with Dead & Co, this joyous reading seemed to benefit from a little extra love from John.

Dead & Company – “Sugaree” [Pro-Shot] – 9/15/21

The ensuing stretch would go on to produce some of the deepest, most mystifying improv of the evening as ethereal tones and siren drones ushered in “Dark Star”, which last served as the two-night improvisational centerpiece of the Mansfield run earlier this month. Once again opting to land after the song’s first verse, the band moved into the classic run of “St. Stephen” > “William Tell Bridge” > “The Eleven”, which crested and fell with elegance before slipping into “Drums”.

“Dark Star” returned briefly—and appropriately—out of “Space” for its second verse before quickly coalescing back into blues-rock form for “Casey Jones”. A gritty, Weir-sung rendition of Reverend Gary Davis‘s “Death Don’t Have No Mercy” followed before a bouncing, set-closing rendition of Bobby “Blue” Bland‘s “Turn On Your Love Light” saw Bobby hint at the phrasing of the “Feel Like A Stranger” vocal refrain to bring the evening full-circle. Finally, Dead & Company wrapped up another memorable evening at Deer Creek with a flowing “Black Muddy River” encore.

Dead & Company – “Death Don’t Have No Mercy” (Reverend Gary Davis) – 9/15/21

[Video: The Zalewski Law Firm]

Dead & Company – “Turn On Your Love Light” (Bobby Blue Bland) – 9/15/21

[Video: Doug Heck]

Dead & Company – “Black Muddy River” – 9/15/21

[Video: Doug Heck]

Listen to a full recording of the show via Scroll down to check out a gallery of photos from the performance via photographer Matthew Rea.

Dead & Company tour continues this weekend with a two-night stand at Chicago’s Wrigley Field. For a full list of upcoming Dead & Company tour dates, head here.

Setlist: Dead & Company | Ruoff Music Center (Deer Creek) | Noblesville, IN | 9/15/21

Set One: Feel Like A Stranger, They Love Each Other > Me and My Uncle, Brown-Eyed Women, If I Had The World To Give* > Dire Wolf, A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall, Big Railroad Blues

Set Two: Sugaree, Dark Star^ > St. Stephen > William Tell Bridge > The Eleven > Drum/Space > Dark Star# > Casey Jones > Death Don’t Have No Mercy, Turn On Your Love Light

Encore: Black Muddy River

*Tour Debut

^Verse 1

#Verse 2