If there’s one thing that has defined the Grateful Dead legacy, it’s change. From the death of Ronald “Pigpen” McKernan through the installation of Trey Anastasio as a Jerry Garcia ringer for the Core Four’s final bow at Fare Thee Well in 2015, the 1960s psychedelic icons have been an actively mutating organism. The same could be said for Dead & Company at Cincinnati, OH’s Riverbend Music Center where founding drummer Bill Kreutzmann subbed himself out for Jay Lane for the second set of on Wednesday’s show.

After Bill the Drummer was seen using an oxygen tank during the weekend’s Boulder shows, the original Rhythm Devil posted on social media at set break last night,

Well, that was a really fun first set and I feel great, you guys. I did pull a muscle the other night in Boulder and while I’m fine, I’m going to sit out some of this next set. Hope you guys understand and don’t let the rumor mill make fools of you – I’m not giving up this drum chair anytime soon. See you later tonight.

Bill’s absence is not a new wrench in the Dead & Co machine, as the drummer missed a series of shows last year with an unspecified, non-COVID illness. Kreutzmann sat out five shows total on the band’s 2021 combined summer/fall tour, including two shows at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, two more at Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre outside Denver, and the Halloween tour closer at Los Angeles’ Hollywood Bowl.

Billy K stuck it out through the first set, however, as he took the stage alongside Bob WeirMickey HartJeff ChimentiJohn Mayer, and Oteil Burbridge to start the show with a triumphant “Let The Good Times Roll”. The 1980’s-era Grateful Dead telling of the Sam Cooke favorite carried the band into “Cold Rain and Snow” before taking southwest Ohio down to Nawlins with “Iko Iko”. Next, JonBo raised his flag atop a flowing “Ship of Fools” ahead of a cover of Johnny Cash‘s “Big River”. The serotonin-inducing central riff of “Here Comes Sunshine” then reared its head into the waning Midwestern daylight before “Cassidy” closed the set.

Dead & Company – “Let The Good Times Roll” (Sam Cooke) – 6/22/22

It was then Lane’s turn at the plate as the longtime Bob Weir collaborator stepped behind the kit alongside Mickey to open set two with “Deal”. The contiguous second set that has become a staple of Dead & Company’s 2022 summer tour was absent on Wednesday, with the band regrouping ahead of “Looks Like Rain” and a mighty “St. Stephen”. The time signature anomaly known as “The Eleven” followed ahead of a trip to the Disco Dead era with “Shakedown Street”. The eerie contemplation of towns and their lack of heart (not Hart) then led into the “Drums” and “Space” segment.

Dead & Company – “Deal” – 6/22/22

Dead & Company – “St. Stephen” – 6/22/22 – Partial

[Video: jaket7337]

Rolling out of “Space”, Bobby kept the party moving with “I Need A Miracle” before the mood turned macabre with “Death Don’t Have No Mercy”. Sensing the tangible downbeat of energy, Weir then led the band through a strong set two finisher with “Sugar Magnolia”. Taking the stage one final time, John Mayer took the group down a walk along the “Black Muddy River” to send the crowd home.

Dead & Company head to Chicago’s Wrigley Field for a two-night run this weekend on June 24th and 25th. As of press time, Bill Kruetzmann has not indicated whether or not he will be playing in the band.

Setlist: Dead & Company | Riverbend Music Center | Cincinnati, OH | 6/22/22

Set One: Let the Good Times Roll, Cold Rain and Snow, Iko Iko, Ship of Fools, Big River, Here Comes Sunshine, Cassidy

Set Two: Deal, Looks Like Rain, St. Stephen > The Eleven > Shakedown Street > Drums > Space > I Need a Miracle > Death Don’t Have No Mercy, Sugar Magnolia

Encore: Black Muddy River

Notes: Jay Lane in place of Bill Kreutzmann for second set