Dead & Company Fits 5 More Tour Debuts In Saratoga Springs Concert
After nearly three years as a band, Dead & Company has amassed a sizable repertoire. The six-piece is now eight shows into their current tour and sprinkled in five more tour debuts last night at SPAC in Saratoga Springs, New York.
Grateful Dead members Bob Weir, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann along with John Mayer, Jeff Chimenti and Oteil Burbridge took the stage at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center on Monday and after noodling around for a bit launched into “Jack Straw.” Mayer and Weir traded vocals on one of the most-played songs in the group’s catalog. Next up was the evening’s first tour debut, “Easy Wind.” The tune Ron “Pigpen” McKernan sang with the Dead is right in John Mayer’s wheelhouse both vocally and instrumentally. Mayer used a gritty tone throughout the memorable performance of “Easy Wind.”
Bobby strapped on an acoustic for a tender “Friend Of The Devil” highlighted by Chimenti’s barrelhouse rolls on piano ahead of the year’s first “Minglewood Blues.” D&C then went with “Ship Of Fools” featuring John and Oteil taking turns handling lead vocal duties. Yet another tour debut followed as Weir fronted the sextet’s second-ever rendition of “Corrina,” one of the last originals he brought to the Grateful Dead. The Bob-heavy set concluded with an adventurous romp through “Cassidy.” Dead & Company patiently worked through every section of the song and fit plenty of tension and release within the jam.
Dead & Company opened Monday’s second set with their rendition of “The Weight.” Bob Weir, John Mayer, Oteil Burbridge and Jeff Chimenti each handled a verse of The Band classic. Chimenti received a huge ovation from the crowd when he started singing. The band hinted at “The Other One” next but instead lit into “Truckin’.” Burbridge’s bouncing bass lines helped propel a strong “Truckin'” that gave way to “He’s Gone.” While “He’s Gone” and the “New Speedway Boogie” that followed were fairly straightforward, “Uncle John’s Band” was the improvisational highlight of the night. Mayer utilized a Wah-Wah pedal with impressive results while Chimenti dug in on electric piano throughout the jam. Weir chimed in with themes from “Supplication” and his mates quickly caught on.
Weir, Burbridge, Chimenti and Mayer vacated the stage after covering plenty of ground over the course of 17 minutes as “Uncle John’s” faded into the evening’s “Drums” section. Kreutzmann and Hart moved through various parts of their rig to provide wild soundscapes before the instrumentalists returned to quickly explore “Space.” Dead & Company went on to finish “Uncle John’s Band” in fine form with more jamming on “Supplication” once the entire band was back on stage. Bob Weir then led the first “Black Peter” of 2018. Weir gave a passionate vocal delivery of the Hunter/Garcia ballad before fronting Dead & Company’s final tour debut of the evening, “Good Lovin’.”
Last night’s concert came to a close with a rousing “Touch Of Grey” encore. Dead & Company’s tour continues in Hartford on Wednesday night.
Watch the songs that opened both sets thanks to nugs.tv:
Setlist (via Ratdog.org)
Set One: Jack Straw (bw, jm), Easy Wind > (jm) Friend Of The Devil* (bw, jm), New Minglewood Blues (bw), Ship Of Fools (jm, ob), Corrina (bw), Cassidy (bw)
Set Two: The Weight (bw, jm, ob, jc) Truckin’ > (bw) He’s Gone > (bw, jm) New Speedway Boogie > (bw) Uncle John’s Band > (all) Drums > Space > Uncle John’s Band (Reprise) > (all) Black Peter > (bw) Good Lovin’ (bw)
Encore: Touch Of Grey (bm, jm)
* – w/ Bob on acoustic guitar