Shakin’ On Shakedown Street: Dead & Company’s Final Tour Kicks Off In Los Angeles

A first set appearance of “St. Stephen” was among the highlights of the concert at The Kia Forum.

By Ryan Storm May 20, 2023 11:57 am PDT

Dead & Company officially kicked off their Final Tour last night with the first of two shows at the Kia Forum in Los Angeles. The 29-date trek will span the next two months and see the group playing in sheds and stadiums across the country.

Expectations were high in the community before last night after the excellent performance on May 8 at Cornell – that night, Dead & Co. exhibited notably faster tempos than in recent years and excited fans at the prospect of a more adventurous tour.

The momentum proved to keep up last night as the band grooved into the opening “Shakedown Street.” While the overt highlight of this song was keyboardist Jeff Chimenti’s bouncy Rhodes solo, bassist Oteil Burbridge’s anchoring of the groove and staccato work during the vocal jam elevated the music to another level. Guitarist Bob Weir took the lead during the “Shakedown” outro jam with his trademark angular playing as Burbridge and Chimenti lent a distinctly jazzy feel – the latter channeling Herbie Hancock at times, as he is wont to do.

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Segueing into a “Cold Rain And Snow” fronted by guitarist John Mayer, Dead & Co. quickly used it as a springboard for the ensuing “Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo.” Mayer and Chimenti traded licks during the emotional outro before the guitarist took control and led it to a great ending peak.

A nearly 14-minute “They Love Each Other” saw Mayer and Chimenti stretching out once again with extended solos. Mayer sang the “heard your news report” fourth verse of the song – normally only a part of the 1973 “fast” arrangement of the song.

Raucous cheers from the crowd greeted the opening strains of “St. Stephen,” which immediately asserted itself as the improvisational highlight of the set and show. Falling just short of the 20-minute mark, Mayer and Chimenti led the sextet into a distinctly spacey and jazzy jam with amazing layers from each member. Drummer Jay Lane lent to the jazzier feel with light touches on cymbals and a supportive beat as Mayer weaved a melodic tapestry.

Set One Preview

Chimenti dialed in a phaser-heavy Rhodes tone to take the jam deeper as he and Mayer traded on dissonant chords and runs. The improv wound very close to a direct segue into “The Eleven,” mostly spurred on by the rhythm section and amazing rhythm guitar contributions from Weir. The band opted to save the segue for later, eventually finding their way home to “Stephen” and leading across the “William Tell Bridge.” The drop into the unique time signature of “The Eleven” caused another eruption from the crowd before the set-closing “Deal” put the cap on an expansive and fiery first set.

The second set began with a groovy “Sugaree” and saw Mayer utilize his clone of Jerry Garcia’s Wolf guitar through “New Speedway Boogie.” After easing into the frame with two groovy songs, “Eyes of the World” was tapped next and reopened the floodgates of improvisation.

Set Two Preview

As usual with renditions of this song played by Dead & Co., the star was Burbridge’s solo. While the melodic contributions from the other soloists were excellent as well, there’s something special about the way that the bass section unfolds in this band.

Reversing the traditional pairing, a funked-out “Estimated Prophet” led right into a unique “Drums” segment. Burbridge picked up his banjo bass and jammed along with Lane and Mickey Hart’s drumming, which added a unusual and melodic element to the normally percussive-only segment of the show. The rest of the band returned for a foray into “Space” that eventually bled into the opening of “The Wheel.”

The late-set mellow vibe continued with an emotional “Wharf Rat” and a romp through “Sugar Magnolia” to close the set. Mayer would front the band on a tender “Black Muddy River” encore, closing out the show in fine fashion.

With a surprise first-set jamming centerpiece and a well-flowing setlist, Dead & Company’s Final Tour is off to a very strong start – with 28 shows to go, we can hope and expect to see more new tricks up their sleeve and a continued high level of playing.

The band returns to the Kia Forum tonight. Livestreams for the entire Final Tour concerts are available for purchase, in 4K and HD, via

Photos by Steve Rose

The Skinny

The Setlist

The Venue

The Kia Forum [See upcoming shows]


4 shows
12/30/2015, 12/31/2015, 12/27/2019, 12/28/2019

The Music

8 songs

8 songs

17 songs
16 originals / 1 cover


4.43 [Gap chart]


All but Deal, Eyes Of The World, Estimated Prophet

Wharf Rat LTP 06/29/2022 (14 Show Gap)

St. Stephen 20:49

Cold Rain & Snow 7:27

The Grateful Dead - 1, Aoxomoxoa - 1, Workingman's Dead - 1, American Beauty - 1, Wake of the Flood - 2, Terrapin Station - 1, Shakedown Street - 1, In The Dark - 1

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