On Wednesday night, Dead & Company headed to Hartford, Connecticut, performing at a mid-week stop at the XFINITY Center ahead of the band’s upcoming two-night stand New York City’s Citi Field this weekend. From the opening “Hell In A Bucket”, the band was on, offering up a show of fan-favorites and particularly fiery improvisation.

The opening “Hell In A Bucket” allowed for John Mayer to slowly build into his blistering lead solo on guitar, making for a celebratory start to the show. From there, the band landed in “Next Time You See Me”, a blues tune by Junior Parker, marking the band’s first performance of the number this tour. “Ramble On Rose” came next, followed up by Bob Dylan’s “When I Paint My Masterpiece”, a gem of Hartford’s first set and a song last performed in November of last year in Charlotte, North Carolina. “Cumberland Blues” gave Jeff Chimenti to shine, laying out a rip-roaring solo on the keys. A stand-out “Black Muddy River” came next, with Dead & Company ending out set one with an explosive “Don’t Ease Me In”.

“Hell In A Bucket”


“Next Time You See Me”

[Video: Matt Frazier]

“Cumberland Blues”

[Video: Matt Frazier]

“Don’t Ease Me In”

[Video:  Matt Frazier]

While Dead & Company offered up a lot of fan favorites during set one of the night, set two is when the band truly stepped out and shined. After a groovy set-opening “Feel Like A Stranger”, the band brought out “Viola Lee Blues”, much to the delight of the crowd. However, the band had something special prepared for the Hartford crowd, laying out the first two verses on the song before transitioning into an energized “China Cat Sunflower”. A particularly on-point transition led in “China Cat” into its beloved partner “I Know You Rider”, highlighting how much Dead & Company’s improvisational capacities have progressed over the years.

“Feel Like A Stranger”

Up next, the band laid out a tight rendition of “Man Smart, Woman Smarter”, marking the third time the group has performed the number since its debut at Bristow’s Jiffy Lube Live in June of last year (the band also performed it this fall at Madison Square Garden). From there, Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart were given license to do their thing, with a particularly captivating drum section ahead of the re-emergence of the band for “Space”. With huge response from the crowd, the band crawled out of the ambient din of “Space”, making for a triumphant arrival in the third and final verse of “Viola Lee Blues”, completing the fan-favorite song that was started earlier in the set.

“Space” > “Viola Lee Blues Reprise”

[Video: Matt Frazier]

By all accounts, the tour debut of “Looks Like Rain” in Hartford was the band’s best performance of the song to date, with other noting that it was the most powerful rendition of the song they’d heard in years. The standout song and true climax of the second set, Bob Weir’s soulful vocals and the mournful tune also laid a path for the set-closing rendition of “Not Fade Away”. With the contrast between the two songs so apparent, the crowd rejoiced with the emergence of The Crickets’ cover, singing the song’s refrain long after the band had exited the stage. After a brief break, Dead & Company returned, performing a gorgeous, moving take on the lyric “Brokedown Palace”.

“Looks Like Rain”

[Video: Jamey Klein]

“Not Fade Away”

[Video: Jamey Klein]

“Brokedown Palace”

[Video: Jamey Klein]

Setlist: Dead & Company | Xfinity Center | Hartford, CT | 6/13/2018

Set One: Hell in a Bucket, Next Time You See Me, Ramble On Rose, When I Paint My Masterpiece, Cumberland Blues, Black Muddy River, Don’t Ease Me In

Set Two: Feel Like A Stranger, Viola Lee Blues (verse 1 & 2) > China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider, Man Smart, Woman Smarter > Drums/Space > Viola Lee Blues (verse 3), Looks Like Rain > Not Fade Away

Encore: Brokedown Palace