Dead & Company Delivers Exploratory Second Set & Honors Chris Charucki In New York City
On Friday night Dead & Company brought their summer run to Flushing Meadows, Queens to kick off a two-night stand at Citi Field. After exclusively playing amphitheaters through the first nine dates of their tour, the six-piece act was playing their first stadium show, returning to the home of the New York Mets for the third year in a row.
The sextet took to the stage shortly after 7:40 p.m. opening things up with “Shakedown Street.” Last night’s nearly 15-minute take found guitarist John Mayer employing a number of funky guitar tones while keyboardist Jeff Chimenti showcased the clavinet as they stretched the song out. Mayer then fronted the band on a straight-forward take of “Alabama Getaway.” After a high-energy start to the night, things slowed down next with “Loser.” Unlike the tour’s previous version, last night’s take featured the “Sweet Susie” line as well as a stand-out piano run from Chimenti. The band dug in on the blues next as they offered up their second-ever take on Elmore James’ “It Hurts Me Too.” Bob Weir strapped on an acoustic guitar for short and punchy take on “Me & My Uncle.”
Mayer took the lead on “Sugaree” as he again got to show off his superb blues guitar playing, reeling off a string of impressive solos that built to a crescendo before they dove back into the Jerry Garcia/Robert Hunter collaboration. D&C then served up an unusually exploratory take on “The Music Never Stopped.” After returning the song’s refrain they segued straight into the tour’s second “Easy Answers” closing out their opening frame in Queens.
Dead & Company got their second set of the night going with an open-ended jazzy improv that morphed into a jam on John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme.” As the band began to toy with “The Other One” Mayer locked in on a must-hear psychedelic-tinged guitar solo, while Chimenti layered in electronica keyboard sounds. The normal thunderous drop into the tune was replaced by an acid-drenched one with Weir just delivering the song’s first verse as they segued into “Estimated Prophet.” The ode to California continued a stretch that saw the band dig in deep on their exploratory side, providing another standout moment of the stanza. Mayer continued his MVP-worthy night with what has become his signature song, “Althea.” Weir layered in slide-guitar as Mayer exuberantly lit into the tune. “Terrapin Station” got its second rendering of the summer as Mayer sang the majority before Weir jumped in to deliver the backend of the much-beloved song suite.
The stage was then turned over to Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart as the duo showcased the multitude of sounds in their percussion playground. The Rhythm Devils got some special help last night on “Drums” as bassist Oteil Burbridge grabbed a pair of drumsticks as the trio moved from drone-y jams to deep space soundscapes. The rest of the band emerged as they took things further into the cosmos for particularly lengthy and inspired “Space” segment. They eventually brought things back to Earth with the familiar bassline of “The Other One” finishing off what they started earlier in the set. The night’s lone tour debut came in the form of “Days Between” with Weir singing lead on the latter-day Grateful Dead ballad. “U.S. Blues” brought the energy back up as Weir and Mayer swapped verses on the summertime anthem to bring the set to an end.
When Dead & Company returned to the stage for their encore Bob Weir surprised a lot of fans with what he was wearing. The guitarist had donned a studded collar and was wearing a shirt that had the logo of New Jersey punk legends Misfits on it. The shirt had belonged to the band’s longtime production manager Chris Charucki who passed away earlier this year. Charucki, who was born in Brooklyn, was a longtime member of the Grateful Dead family who began working with the band in 1993. Chrarucki continued work with the members of the band after Jerry Garcia’s passing in 1995, logging time on the road with RatDog, Furthur and Dead & Company. During the band’s fiery take on “Going Down The Road Feelin’ Bad” images of Chrarucki were displayed behind the band in tribute.
Dead & Company finish up their two nights at Citi Field in New York City tonight. A webcast is available via nugs.tv.