Last night, Dead & Company returned to the Hollywood Bowl for their second of two performances at the prestigious LA venue. Following last night’s sobering security scare, Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann, Mickey Hart, John Mayer, Oteil Burbridge, and Jeff Chimenti came back to the storied amphitheater with a vengeance, determined to get the party back on track–and unsurprisingly, they delivered in spades with easily the best show of this young summer tour.
The entire performance begs a second (or, for those not in attendance, a first) listen. Set one saw the band kick things off with In The Dark track “Hell In A Bucket,” before digging deep into the vault for a rendition of Junior Parker cover “Next Time You See Me,” a live favorite formerly led by Ron “Pigpen” McKernan during the Grateful Dead‘s early days. From there, the first set continued on a high note with an endlessly fun string of favorites: “West LA Fadeaway,” “Mississippi Half-Step,” “Red Rooster,” “Uncle John’s Band,” “New Speedway Boogie,” and “US Blues.” You can watch pro-shot video of the show’s first three songs below, via the band’s YouTube page:
By set break, it was clear that the Hollywood crowd had the makings of a special show on their hands. The band was having fun, everyone’s tone was impeccable, they were pulling out incredible tunes. But the truly impressive second set that Dead & Co threw together defied even the highest of expectations.
The excitement only grew as the band returned to the stage and eased into a funky “Estimated Prophet” which would ooze and vamp for almost 18 minutes (featuring some sly “Eleanor Rigby” teases from Chimenti) before sliding into “St Stephen.” While they may not be everyone’s bag, Mayer’s deft vocal harmonies were an undeniable highlight of the top-notch rendition, lending a fresh sound to the decades-old song. And that’s not to take away from his guitar playing in the song’s improv section, where his fiery blues licks propelled the jam in exciting directions.
As “what would be the answer to the answer, man?” rang out through the bandshell, the blissful opening notes of “Terrapin Station” rose from the depths, adding another gold star to this already incredible set list. The silky “Terrapin” led into another highly sough-after Dead classic, “Dark Star,” which would prove to be the improvisational climax of the performance. Following the first verse, the spacey vamp began to get more and more percussive, and before the audience could blink, they were deep into a mind-bending “Drums” > “Space” which saw the band welcome String Cheese Incident percussionist Jason Hann into the fray. Eventually, the “Rhythm Devil” show slowly began to take a more familiar shape, and the band returned to guide the jam back into “Dark Star” to finish the song’s 2nd verse.
After the thrilling Dark Star Space voyage, Weir once again took the reigns for a joyous “Morning Dew,” the perfect emotional exclamation mark for a memorable night at the Hollywood Bowl. The “Not Fade Away” encore left the crowd exiting the venue chanting, clapping, and filled with love–and, safe to say, some newly spawned last-minute plans to hop “on the bus” and follow Dead & Company to Mountain View for their two-night run at Shoreline Amphitheatre this weekend.
You can listen to full audio of Dead & Co’s 6/1/17 performance at Hollywood Bowl below, courtesy of taper Jeff Frank on archive.org.
SETLIST: Dead & Company | Hollywood Bowl | Hollywood, CA | 6/1/17
Set 1: Hell In A Bucket, Next Time You See Me, West LA Fadeaway, Mississippi Half-Step. Red Rooster, Uncle John’s Band, New Speedway Boogie, US Blues
Set 2: Estimated Prophet > St. Stephen > Terrapin Station > Dark Star > Drums > Space > Dark Star (second verse) > Morning Dew
Encore: Not Fade Away
[Cover photo via Steve Rose]