Dead & Company concluded their swing through the Tar Heel State on Thursday with a show in Raleigh, NC. The concert at Coastal Credit Union Park at Walnut Creek saw the Grateful Dead offshoot dish out some tour debuts as well as some classics from the Dead’s 1960s heyday.
Though the sun was shining bright overhead, Dead & Company started the show by fighting off the encroaching darkness with “New Speedway Boogie”, which opened the show for the first time in the band’s career per Phantasy Tour. Guitarist John Mayer then smoothed things out with the tender “They Love Each Other”, his loving serenade serving as a cosmic foil to Bob Weir‘s gravelly Altamont reflection which began the show. Keyboardist Jeff Chimenti started the band’s engines by lighting up his Hammond B3 organ, with his and John Mayer‘s musical telepathy on full display as they locked in together.
Dead & Company – “New Speedway Boogie” [Pro-Shot] – 6/1/23
“Mama Tried” then made its fifth-ever appearance at a Dead & Company show, a shocking statistic given the former reliability of the Merle Haggard cover in Bobby’s collection of cowboy tunes. Another tour debut immediately followed with “Easy Wind”, as Mayer channeled the late Ronald “Pigpen” McKernan for this Workingman’s Dead cut shelved by the Dead back in 1971. Akin to the “Black Peter” from Tuesday’s show in Charlotte, “Easy Wind” provided ample opportunity for Bobby to show how much he’s been practicing his slide guitar.
Following a run through “Ramble On Rose” with a jam propped up by Jeff’s ornate grand piano came the classic pairing of Traffic‘s “Dear Mr. Fantasy” and the coda of The Beatles‘ “Hey Jude” which—since its debut at last summer’s L.A. tour opener—has become a weapon of choice in the band’s arsenal. The quintessential first set singalong ramped up the energy to a breaking point, thanks in no small part to Chimenti’s incendiary organ work that recalled the late Brent Mydland.
Dead & Company capped off the first set with “Bird Song”, one of the tunes that has taken on renewed life in this current post-Jerry Garcia incarnation of Dead members. The reflective song originally written in memory of Janis Joplin, which now dually serves as a tribute to Jerry, has become one of the most reliable first set jam vehicles for Dead & Company. The roughly 15-minute telling acted as the band’s improvisational muscle flex, giving a glimpse of things to come in the second set.
Coming back with the bouncy second set opener “Sugaree”, Dead & Company threw it way back to the Primal Dead era with the classic movement of “St. Stephen” > “William Tell Bridge” > “The Eleven”. Not seen since the proper tour opener in Los Angeles, the trifecta of classic Grateful Dead psychedelia bridged the gap between the band’s early hallucinogenic-infused beginnings through over half a century of permutations all the way up to the present day. Regardless of the players onstage, taking on this trio of songs brought the whole history together.
Dead & Company – “Sugaree” [Pro-Shot] – 6/1/23
Jumping eras dramatically, Dead & Company fast-forwarded with the ’80s and ’90s favorite “Iko Iko”. Ironically, it was this New Orleans tribute that led the band into “Drums” and “Space”, rather than the interstellar improvisational journey that preceded it. “Iko Iko” marked the third and final tour debut of the evening.
Forgoing his African Space Banjo this time, bassist Oteil Burbridge instead went straight for the percussive instruments for the “Drums” breakdown. The six-armed beast of Burbridge, Mickey Hart, and Jay Lane conducted their worldwide journey through beat and time, emerging out the other side with their bandmates in tow for “Space”.
The open-ended improvisation didn’t linger long before manifesting itself as Bob Weir’s call taken up by generations of ticketless fans, “I Need A Miracle”. For the post-“Space” ballad, Weir delivered the cautionary tale of August West with “Wharf Rat” before another biographical diddy, “Casey Jones”, closed out the second set.
For the first time since Dallas on May 26th, Dead & Company actually left the stage for a proper encore break. The band’s time management on Thursday paid off, as they were able to take a leisurely stroll along the “Black Muddy River” before sending the crowd home.
Dead & Company – “Mama Tried” (Merle Haggard) – 6/1/23
[Video: The Zalewski Law Firm]
Dead & Company – “St. Stephen” > “William Tell Bridge” > “The Eleven” – 6/1/23
[Video: The Zalewski Law Firm]
Setlist: Dead & Company | Coastal Credit Union Park at Walnut Creek | Raleigh, NC | 6/1/23
Set One: New Speedway Boogie, They Love Each Other, Mama Tried (Merle Haggard), Easy Wind, Ramble On Rose, Dear Mr. Fantasy (Traffic) > Hey Jude Reprise (The Beatles) > Bird Song
Set Two: Sugaree, St. Stephen > William Tell Bridge > The Eleven > Iko Iko > Drums > Space > I Need A Miracle > Wharf Rat > Casey Jones
Encore: Black Muddy River