On Saturday night, Dead & Company made their highly awaited debut at Eugene, OR’s Autzen Stadium, the beloved college town stadium (go Ducks!) which the Grateful Dead frequented over the course of their career.

The Grateful Dead 5/3/1994 – Autzen Stadium, Eugene OR © Dave Vann 1994
Dead & Company 6/30/2018 – Autzen Stadium, Eugene OR © Dave Vann 2018

The band started strong with “Deal”, a song that has consistently shined in the Dead & Co arena. The set continued at a faster-than-usual pace with a “Me and My Uncle” quickie. During a pause after the slow-and-steady “Here Comes Sunshine” that followed, Bob Weir commented cheekily, “for all of you folks out there listening on the radio, this is called ‘dead air,'” prompting approving cheers from the crowd.

Dead & Company – “Deal” [Pro-Shot]

[Video: Nugs.tv]

Weir continued at the helm from there, leading the band through “Black Throated Wind”, his vocal tone as clear and true as it’s been all tour. Another strong Dead & Co first set go-to, “Cold Rain and Snow”, came next, John Mayer commanding lead vocals as the band nailed their harmonies and Jeff Chimenti pushed the song to a peak from behind his organ.

“So we’re gonna do another folk song,” noted Weir as he began a plucky “Peggy-O”, with Mayer adding a fittingly tender solo. The bluesy swing of “Sugaree”—another tried-and-true Mayer-led Dead & Co vehicle—came next, the stadium crowd shaking it as the band guided the extended rendition through a number of emotional peaks and valleys.

To cap set one, the band kicked into “One More Saturday Night”, the crowd cheering perhaps less for the tune itself than for the fact that it wouldn’t occupy the second set closer/encore slot, as it had on each Saturday night this tour aside from the rain-shortened Camden night 2 (though a printed setlist had the classic Bobby tune scheduled as the encore for that show, too).

After a break, Dead & Company returned for set two with big plans in mind, diving straight into the transitive nightfall of “Dark Star”. Following extended improv segments before and after the opus’ first verse, the band steered into Marty Robbins‘ “El Paso”, an apparent nod to the Grateful Dead’s famous concert in nearby Veneta, OR on 8/27/72, when they also  opened their final (third) set with a memorable “Dark Star” > “El Paso”. [That show was immortalized in concert doc Sunshine Daydreamreleased for the third-annual Grateful Dead “Meet-Up At The Movies” in 2013, in case you wanted to relive it]. As has become a habit for Dead & Company, the band moved back into “Dark Star” for verse two after their “El Paso” detour.

Dead & Company – “Dark Star” [Verse 1, Pro-Shot]

[Video: Nugs.tv]

Even with an extended “Dark Star” sandwich in the rearview, the meat of set two was still to come. “St. Stephen” was up next and saw the band cast their lines deep into uncharted waters, winding into a funky groove while steadily building sonic tension. With their minds still set on the old days, the band then moved into “William Tell Bridge” and, finally, “The Eleven”, marking just the second time Dead & Co has completed the full Grateful Dead live suite after its debut in June at Citi Field in New York.

A lengthy, intricately textured “Drums/Space” exploration followed before, at long last, the iconic opening notes of “Morning Dew” echoed through the stadium. Just the second Dead & Co rendition of the Bonnie Dobson-penned classic on the summer, this “Morning Dew” packed plenty of its noted punch, Mayer’s guitar piercing through to lend the song its familiar emotional weight.

From there, an upbeat “Turn On Your Lovelight” dance party brought the set to a close with its first appearance in a Dead & Co setlist since last summer in Boulder, CO. Finally, a heartfelt “Brokedown Palace” sing-along in the encore slot served as the perfect send-off after a fantastic set.

A pair of appearances at Shoreline Amphitheatre in the Grateful Dead’s native San Francisco Bay Area awaits the band this Monday and Tuesday, July 2nd and 3rd. For a full list of Dead & Company’s upcoming tour dates, hit the band’s website.

You can view a beautiful gallery of photos from the performance courtesy of Dave Vann below.

Setlist: Dead & Company | Autzen Stadium | Eugene, OR | 6/30/18

Deal, Me and My Uncle, Here Comes Sunshine, Black Throated Wind, Cold Rain and Snow, Peggy-O, Sugaree, One More Saturday Night

Dark Star > El Paso > Dark Star > St. Stephen > William Tell Bridge > The Eleven > Drums/Space > Morning Dew > Turn On Your Lovelight

Encore: Brokedown Palace

A full soundboard recording of the show is available via nugs.net.