Dead & Company Jams On ‘You Can Call Me Al’ As Fall Tour 2017 Finally Ends In Orlando

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After an emotional evening in South Florida, Dead & Company brought Fall Tour 2017 to a close on Tuesday night at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. The tour was scheduled to end in early December, when John Mayer was hospitalized and underwent an emergency appendectomy. As such, the final three shows of Fall ’17 were postponed until this past week ending with Tuesday’s performance in Orlando.

Dead & Company came charging out of the gates hard with “St. Stephen” before guitarist Bob Weir led the group on “Hell In A Bucket.” Mayer had a great night in Orlando and had his first chance on lead vocals when he channeled Pigpen on “Next Time You See Me.” Bobby and John continued trading off lead vocal duties as Weir sang “Ramble On Rose” before Mayer stepped into the spotlight for “Row Jimmy” and the back-and-forth continued with “Loose Lucy” and “Brown-Eyed Women.”

The sextet ended the first set in Orlando with “The Wheel.” The band has played around with the outro since its first tour, usually working in bits of Maurice Williams & The Zodiacs’ “Stay (Just A Little Bit Longer).” In Orlando, John Mayer had other ideas as he led his mates through a brief but memorable jam on Paul Simon’s Graceland favorite “You Can Call Me Al.” Bassist Oteil Burbridge quickly picked up on the direction Mayer was headed as did the drummers. Weir made it a mashup of sorts by continuing to sing lyrics from “The Wheel.” John sang lyrics from “You Can Call Me Al” including “If you be my bodyguard” and “I can call you Betty.”

D&C’s second set was a huge showcase for Mayer’s playing as perhaps he was trying to make it up to fans who had waited an extra 10 weeks to see the band. The guitarist accentuated the blues elements within “China Cat Sunflower” > “I Know You Rider” as he unleashed powerful solos during both songs. “Althea” was the first Dead tune that drew John Mayer into the fold, so it’s no surprise he put plenty of heart and emotion into both his vocals and solo during the Hunter/Garcia classic.

Bob Weir has been in particularly fine voice this run and showed off the strong state of his pipes during “Estimated Prophet.” Weir made every line count and altered his vocal delivery a little for certain lines of the song he wrote with John Perry Barlow 40 years prior. The lengthy pre-“Drums”/”Space” portion of night concluded with “Terrapin Station.” Keyboardist Jeff Chimenti shined on “Terrapin” thanks to one impressive fill after another. Both Bobby and John poured emotion into their vocals throughout.

“Terrapin Station” led into “Drums” with Burbridge joining Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann in banging out wild rhythms. Unlike most “Drums” excursions from the past few years, The Rhythm Devils (and Oteil) focused more on bombast then mixing in vocal samples. When Hart moved over to The Beam, the vocal samples started including a female voice that said, “the best form of government is no government at all.” When the instrumentalists returned, they embarked on a brief “Space” excursion before the whole band began “Wharf Rat.” Mayer’s best solo of the night came during the ballad. He was bouncing around stage and had crazy expressions on his face throughout. John Mayer utilized his 2009 Fender Custom Shop Jeff Beck Stratocaster, aka “Heartbreak Warfare,” for the first time with Dead & Company just for the beginning and solo of “Wharf Rat.” He switched back to his Paul Reed Smith right after the solo. The axe is known for its tremolo bar and John made great use of the effect throughout “Wharf Rat.”

Dead & Company ended their final set of the run with “Casey Jones” and then encored with “U.S. Blues.” The six-piece now has a few months off before they begin Summer Tour 2018 on May 30 in Mansfield, Massachusetts.

Watch a clip of John Mayer using his “Heartbreak Warfare” Strat for “Wharf Rat”:

Here’s a taste of the “You Can Call Me Al” jam:

Check out a few high-quality fan-shot videos captured by jfayiii:

[Brown-Eyed Women]

[U.S. Blues]

Setlist

Set One: St. Stephen, Hell In A Bucket, Next Time You See Me, Ramble On Rose, Row Jimmy, Loose Lucy, Brown-Eyed Women, The Wheel

Set Two: China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider, Althea, Estimated Prophet > Terrapin Station > Drums > Space > Wharf Rat > Casey Jones

Encore: U.S. Blues

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