Dead & Company Busts Out ‘Big Boss Man’ In Bethel Woods

Drummer Bill Kreutzmann sat out the show featuring several tour debuts.

By Andy Kahn Jul 2, 2022 8:51 am PDT

Dead & Company brought their Summer Tour 2022 to Bethel Woods Center For The Arts in Bethel, New York on Friday night. The band delivered a number of tour debuts in the first set, including their first “Big Boss Man” since 2019.

Dead & Company drummer Bill Kreutzmann, who has missed parts of other shows on the tour, sat out all of Friday’s concert as Jay Lane once again filled-in. With Lane seated next to fellow drummer Mickey Hart, guitarist John Mayer led a show-opening “Deal.” Next, Oteil Burbridge introduced the familiar “Shakedown Street” bassline and the funky number developed into a lengthy jam that keyboardist Jeff Chimenti and Mayer steered into the jazz fusion realm.

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“Big Boss Man” then made its first Dead & Co. setlist since December 28, 2019. Friday’s performance was the band’s 10th time playing “Big Boss Man” and first in 48 shows. Sung by Mayer, the song written by Luther Dixon and Al Smith was first recorded by Jimmy Reed in 1960. The blues song entered the Grateful Dead’s repertoire in 1966 with Ron “Pigpen” McKernan singing lead and was shelved after its May 25, 1972 performance in London. In 1981, the Dead resurrected the song with guitarist Jerry Garcia on lead vocals, playing it sporadically through 1995.

The string of tour debuts kept rolling out as Mayer led a tender “It Must Have Been the Roses.” Guitarist Bob Weir then got to front the band on back-to-back songs, the tried and true “Me And My Uncle” and Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried.” The final tour debut came in the form of the rarity “If I Had The World To Give.” Burbridge sang the heartfelt song the Dead recorded for their 1978 album Shakedown Street and played live just three times. Weir’s mighty, multi-part “Let It Grow” brought the first set to an end.

Read on after The Skinny for the rest of the recap and more.

The Skinny

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The Setlist

The Venue

Bethel Woods Center For The Arts [See upcoming shows]

15,000

1 show
8/23/2021

The Music

8 songs

9 songs

17 songs
10 originals / 7 covers

1973

11.27 [Gap chart]

None

Big Boss Man, It Must Have Been the Roses, Me and My Uncle, Mama Tried, If I Had the World to Give

Big Boss Man LTP 12/28/2019 (48 Show Gap)

Shakedown Street 18:57

Mama Tried 4:09

Wake of the Flood - 1, Blues for Allah - 3, Shakedown Street - 2, Go To Heaven - 1, Built to Last - 1

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Coming out of set break, “Let The Good Times Roll,” a frequent show opener, started a D&C second set for just the second time. Last year, when Dead & Company played the venue near the site of the original 1969 Woodstock festival, the band started the second set by recreating the setlist the Dead played at the historic event. Among the songs the Dead played at Woodstock included “Dark Star” (and “Mama Tried”), and the psychedelic jam vehicle was driven once again on Friday night.

Leaving the depths of “Dark Star” after the first verse, the six musicians then shifted to the well-established sequence of “Help On The Way” into “Slipknot!” into “Franklin’s Tower.” The transition from “Slipknot!” into “Franklin’s” was intensely drawn out and embellished by Chimenti’s synth playing. After the joyous ending of “Franklin’s,” Lane and Hart were left on stage to enter the “Drums” universe. The pair of percussionists explored rhythmic patterns for several minutes before Hart enveloped the venue in drone from The Beam, which he played with a bow.

The non-drummer members of the band then retook the stage for “Space,” which was a restrained expression of free-form improvisation that gently invited back “Dark Star.” With all the musicians back in place, “Dark Star” fully formed with Weir delivering the second verse. Mayer then showcased his musicianship on the subsequent “Althea,” confidently laying into his solo.

Dead & Company then shifted to the Rev Gary Davis’ mournful “Death Don’t Have No Mercy.” The second set concluded with the beloved sing-along “Not Fade Away.” Friday’s encore was another Merle Haggard cover, “Sing Me Back Home,” which made its Dead & Co. debut earlier this summer and had yet to be played as an encore.

Dead & Company Summer Tour 2022 continues Saturday, July 2 at Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA. Livestreams are available via nugs.net.

Listen to Friday’s Dead & Company concert in Bethel, New York taped by Keith Litzenberger:

Watch pro-shot videos of the set openers below:

Deal

Let The Good Times Roll

Poster

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