Dead & Company Gives Flight To +20-Minute ‘Bird Song’ At Los Angeles Finale

The concert at The Kia Forum also saw Grateful Dead crew member Steve Parish add to “Drums.”

By Scott Bernstein May 22, 2023 7:47 am PDT

Dead & Company returned to The Kia Forum outside Los Angeles on Saturday for their second of two concerts at the venue that officially opened their Final Tour. The sextet delivered a long and inspired “Bird Song” within the first set and welcomed longtime Grateful Dead crew member Steve Parish during “Drums” in the second set.

After taking the stage at Jazz Fest in New Orleans and at Cornell University's Barton Hall before launching the tour proper at The Forum on Friday, Dead & Co. were in fine form on Saturday and displayed an impressive chemistry despite Jay Lane taking over for Bill Kreutzmann just before the tour. Lane’s long history performing with guitarist Bob Weir and keyboardist Jeff Chimenti in RatDog and various other projects as well as his time behind the kit over the past two years made him a seamless fit when Bill Kreutzmann pulled out from the tour.

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Weir, Chimenti, Lane, guitarist John Mayer, drummer Mickey Hart and bassist Oteil Burbridge began Saturday’s show with a rousing “Bertha.” Mayer sang the opener which gave way to Weir leading the group through “Good Lovin’.” Bobby passed the lead vocal baton back to John Mayer for a spot-on “Brown-Eyed Women.” The seamless, three-song start to the concert was followed by a gorgeous and passion-infused “Jack Straw.” The band locked in on a groove that Mayer used as a platform to launch a euphoric solo that saw Chimenti echo his leads on piano.

Oteil Burbridge stepped to the mic next for “High Time,” his only lead vocal opportunity of the weekend. Burbridge beautifully belted out Robert Hunter’s lyrics on the ballad and received a rapturous applause from the audience at the end of the Workingman’s Dead classic. John Mayer then channeled the late Ron “Pigpen” McKernan in helming “Mr. Charlie.”

Set One Preview

Bob Weir started “Bird Song” with a rhythmic section that almost sounded more like “Ramble On Rose.” The band came in behind him and it was clear the first “Bird Song” since last July was ready to soar. Weir and Mayer split vocal duties but the jam is where Dead & Co. truly took off. Burbridge and Lane connected on a change in time signature with their bandmates quickly falling in line. The six-piece went far beyond the song’s normal boundaries for a jazzy excursion which hinted at “The Other One” multiple times.

Each musician pulled their weight in exploring various spaces throughout the otherworldly “Bird Song.” Mayer and Chimenti continued to trade licks while Burbridge and the drummers were deep in the pocket. Jeff Chimenti moved between acoustic piano, electric piano and synth, adding just the right colors to the mix. Dead & Co. built towards a peak and then returned to the “Bird Song” structure before slipping into “Don’t Ease Me In” to close the first set.

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Dead & Company went with “Althea” to get Saturday’s second set underway. As usual, John Mayer made the most of his solo inserting angular riffs a plenty. However, the sextet had a surprise in store as they segued into “The Other One” while Mayer sang “The time has come to weigh those things” leaving “Althea” unfinished. Mayer showed off the bluesy side of his playing during the first improvisation that emerged out of “The Other One.” The band all of the sudden dropped out leaving John Mayer soloing over silence. He then kicked into “Lady With A Fan” to start the beloved “Terrapin Station.”

The six-piece patiently and brilliantly made their way through each section of “Terrapin Station.” Once again, Mayer and Weir swapped lead vocals on the different segments. Dead & Co. followed the anthemic final “Terrapin Station” portion by picking up “The Other One” where they had left off. Burbridge’s work was especially impressive as the band spent eight more minutes jamming on “The Other One” ahead of the evening’s “Drums”/”Space” adventure.

Set Two Preview

Lane, Hart and Burbridge pounded out hearty rhythms accompanied by Steve Parish. The Grateful Dead/Jerry Garcia roadie followed along for a few minutes before vacating the stage. Eventually, Hart was left alone to strum the Beam. Mickey also trigged samples from his huge audio collection and utilized other electronics while he was the only musician on stage. The instrumentalists returned and Hart took off as “Space” began. The freeform jam was fairly short on this night with Mayer soon lighting into “Stella Blue.” Bobby sang the Hunter/Garcia ballad and then Mayer worked over his new prototype Paul Reed Smith Silver Sky axe with passion and fury.

Saturday’s second set ended with a 25-minute trip through the celebrated trio “Help On The Way” into “Slipknot!” into “Franklin’s Tower.” John Mayer fronted both the former and latter vocally and shined during the wild jam that connected the two. The highlight of the triumvariate was a funky section featuring Chimenti on Clavinet and Mayer uncorking distorted fretboard fireworks. Burbridge anchored the jam with a riveting bassline ahead of drop into “Franklin’s Tower.”

For the encore, Dead & Company punctuated the evening and said farewell to Los Angeles with a stellar “Brokedown Palace.” Next up for the group is a show in Phoenix on Tuesday. Purchase livestreams for Phoenix and the entire final tour via

The Skinny

The Setlist

Setlist Notes
  • [1] w/ Big Steve Parish

Setlist info via Phantasy Tour.

The Venue

The Kia Forum [See upcoming shows]


5 shows
12/30/2015, 12/31/2015, 12/27/2019, 12/28/2019, 5/19/2023

The Music

8 songs

8 songs

16 songs
14 originals / 2 covers / 0 misc


2.5 [Gap chart]


Good Lovin, High Time, Mr. Charlie, Bird Song, Don't Ease Me In, Stella Blue, Brokedown Palace

Bird Song & Don’t Ease Me In LTP 07/15/2022 (8 Show Gaps)

Bird Song 26:37

Mr. Charlie 5:06

Anthem of the Sun - 1, Workingman's Dead - 1, American Beauty - 1, Wake of the Flood - 1, Blues for Allah - 3, Terrapin Station - 1, Shakedown Street - 1, Go To Heaven - 2

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Audience Recording (Taped by Fred Nicolois)

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