Dead & Company Hit Halfway Mark Of Dead Forever Residency At Las Vegas Sphere

“Viola Lee Blues” made its Sphere debut at the band’s 15th of 30 Dead Forever residency shows in Las Vegas.

By Scott Bernstein Jun 16, 2024 9:18 am PDT

Dead & Company’s Dead Forever residency at the Las Vegas Sphere reached the halfway mark on Saturday night as in a bit of synchronicity that continued throughout the fifth weekend, the band’s 15th show of 30 at the high-tech venue matched the date of June 15th. The group comprised of Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir and drummer Mickey Hart with guitarist John Mayer, bassist Oteil Burbridge, keyboardist Jeff Chimenti and drummer Jay Lane treated fans to the 100th distinct song they’ve played at Sphere — when including “Drums” and “Space” — plenty of GD staples as well as several tunes they had only performed once prior during the run.

Bobby Weir growled out “I Need A Miracle” for just the second time at Sphere to kick off last night’s show. “Lift off” was then achieved as the scaffolding imagery that greeted attendees parted and scenes of San Francisco were displayed to herald a lengthy “Eyes Of The World.” Next came a “Dancing In The Street” sung by Weir that was accompanied by iconography from throughout the Grateful Dead’s career.

Bobby then passed the lead vocal baton to John Mayer for a cover of Tampa Red’s blues number “It Hurts Me Too,” which like “Dancin'” was only played once prior by Dead & Co. at Sphere. The back-and-forth when it came to singing continued through the end of the set as Weir captained the second “Cassidy” of the residency and Mayer fronted “Sugaree.” The former saw the technologically-advanced space’s screens take concertgoers on a trip to the pyramids in Egypt where the Dead famously played in 1978, while the latter saw huge red flowers pile up.

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While Dead & Company have been toying the familiar pairings during the residency, the band went the straight-forward route to start the final set of the weekend last night. “China Cat Sunflower” gave way to its usual partner of “I Know You Rider” to begin the frame. The “Rider” saw the band perform in front of animated images of famous venues from Grateful Dead history including the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco, Cornell University’s Barton Hall and Radio City Music Hall with Mayer and Chimenti engaged in a particularly impressive bit of interplay as graphics of the historic room in NYC were interspersed.

The history of the Grateful Dead was also the focus of the imagery shown when Dead & Company took on “Playing In The Band” next. Graphics of posters, backstage passes and other ephemera from 1965 – 1995 filled the screens while the six musicians jammed on the classic tune. A segue into “Cumberland Blues” followed before the band took on the Bob Weir and John Perry Barlow composition “Estimated Prophet.” Lane, Hart and Burbridge were then left to pound out the evening’s “Drums” excursion. Mickey Hart stuck around to man The Beam to provide an intro for a trip to “Space.”

“Space” bled into one of the final Garcia/Hunter ballads, “Days Between,” which saw action for just the second time this year. Dead & Company went on to break out the old jug band classic “Viola Lee Blues.” Psychedelic tunnel-like images were shown as the sextet played “Viola Lee Blues” for the first time since July 7, 2023. Unlike many past versions, D&C kept the song in standalone form last night. The band then ripped up “U.S. Blues” while the animated skeleton from The Grateful Dead movie rode his motorcycle across the massive screens. An unusually-placed “Dark Star” followed along with an old-timey newscast before the band said farewell with the day-appropriate “One More Saturday Night.”

Dead & Company begins the sixth weekend of the Dead Forever Sphere residency on Thursday, June 20. View the setlist, The Skinny and video from Saturday’s concert below:

The Skinny

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The Setlist

The Venue

Sphere [See upcoming shows]

18,600

14 shows
5/16/2024, 5/17/2024, 5/18/2024, 5/24/2024, 5/25/2024, 5/26/2024, 5/30/2024, 5/31/2024, 6/01/2024, 6/06/2024, 6/07/2024, 6/08/2024, 06/13/2024, 06/14/2024

The Music

6 songs

10 songs

16 songs
12 originals / 4 covers

1972

7.46 [Gap chart]

None

Viola Lee Blues

Viola Lee Blues LTP 07/07/2023 (19 Show Gap)

Eyes Of The World 18:45

U.S. Blues 6:50

The Grateful Dead - 1, Anthem of the Sun - 0, Aoxomoxoa - 1, Workingman's Dead - 1, Wake of the Flood - 1, From the Mars Hotel - 1, Terrapin Station - 2, Shakedown Street - 1,

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More Skinny

Videos

Various Clips & Photos


00:00:00
Nunupics Zomot (See 4 videos)
Dead & Company (See 433 videos)

Dancing In The Street

Sugaree


00:00:00
Nunupics Zomot (See 4 videos)
Dead & Company (See 433 videos)

Viola Lee Blues


00:00:00
Nunupics Zomot (See 4 videos)
Dead & Company (See 433 videos)
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Audience Recording (Taped by Sir Chu Sonoran Dawg)

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