After months of anticipation, Dead & Company‘s 2017 tour is finally upon us! Last night, Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, John Mayer, Oteil Burbridge, and Jeff Chimenti rolled into Las Vegas to kick off their 20-date summer run. The band came in hot in their first performance since 7/30/16 at Shoreline Amphitheatre, opening the show with classic cuts including “The Music Never Stopped,” “Dire Wolf,” and “Jack Straw,” each highlighted by poignantly beautiful guitar interplay by Mayer and Weir. You can watch pro-shot footage of the show’s first three songs (“The Music Never Stopped,” “Dire Wolf,” and “Jack Straw”) via nugs.tv, which the band streamed live on their Facebook page:
Set one continued the string of jukebox Dead sing-alongs, including “Loser,” “Friend of the Devil,” “Brown Eyed Women,” and “Bird Song.” Set two kicked off with a joyous “Playin’ In The Band,” which eventually bled into “Deal,” sung with sly charisma by Mayer. A classic “China Cat Sunflower” > “I Know You Rider” pairing came next, and eventually dissipated into “Drums/Space,” giving Mickey and Billy their first crack of the year at their patented percussion odysseys. Out of the “Space” arose “The Other One,” as Bobby fearlessly led the band on vocals through the remainder of the set, including “Black Peter” and the obligatory “One More Saturday Night.”
However, as we all know, yesterday wasn’t just another Saturday night. Earlier that evening, the music world received the devastating news that Gregg Allman, the leader of the iconic Allman Brothers Band and widely respected rock and roll elder statesman, had passed away. In a moving tribute to the fallen legend (and Burbridge’s former Allmans bandmate), Dead & Company delivered a delicate rendition of “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” the Bob Dylan classic performed by the Allmans, the Dead, and just about everyone else. As the band played, images of Gregg were projected behind the stage, blending with visuals of fluffy white clouds to give Allman’s an angelic aura. After the touching tribute, the band slipped back into a “Playin’ in the Band” reprise to cap an excellent tour opener.
Watch fan-shot footage of the end of the encore tribute to Gregg Allman below, courtesy of YouTube user Nala ThaBoxer:
SETLIST: Dead & Company | MGM Grand Garden Arena | Las Vegas, NV | 5/27/17
Set 1: The Music Never Stopped, Dire Wolf, Jack Straw, Loser, Friend of the Devil, Brown Eyed Women, Bird Song
Set 2: Playin’ In The Band > Deal, China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider > Drums > Space > The Other One > Black Peter, One More Saturday Night
Encore: Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door > Playin In The Band (Reprise)
The band keeps playin’ on tonight as they make their way to Phoenix AZ for a performance at Ak-Chin Pavillion. From there, the band will play a pair of two-night runs in California, at Hollywood Bowl and Shoreline Amphitheatre, respectively. For a full list of upcoming Dead & Co shows, or to purchase tickets, head to the band’s website.
Enjoy the full gallery below, courtesy of Erik Kabib
[Cover photo via Instagram user @deadandgang]