Dead & Company‘s summer tour moved on to Hartford on Wednesday night for a concert at The Xfinity Theatre. The six-piece delivered a particularly consistent performance in Hartford highlighted by one of the most impressive pieces of improvisation of the run and yet five more tour debuts.
Guitarist Bob Weir led a potent “Hell In A Bucket” to open the show. Weir put extra emphasis on certain lines, while John Mayer unleashed a string of inventive riffs between verses. The return of “Next Time You See Me” came next as Mayer fronted the sextet on the Junior Parker blues classic for the first time this tour. A slow and throbbing “Ramble On Rose” and the tour debut of “When I Paint My Masterpiece” followed.
Oteil Burbridge’s bouncing bass lines were at the heart of the “Cumberland Blues” that came next, while keyboardist Jeff Chimenti built a memorable piano solo to a strong peak. Next, Mayer showed off two different sides of his musicality on the ballad “Black Muddy River” and romp through the tour debut of “Don’t Ease Me In” to end the set.
Weir, Mayer, Burbridge, Chimenti and drummers Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann served up an exploratory “Feel Like A Stranger” to get the second set underway. Jeff Chimenti’s Rhodes work helped push his mates to great heights. Out of “Stranger” came the tour’s second “Viola Lee Blues.” While Dead & Company played “Viola” straight through in Noblesville, this time around they split the tune into multiple sections. The first two verses led into the crowd-pleasing and familiar “China Cat Sunflower” > “I Know You Rider” sequence.
The show rolled on with the tour debut of “Man Smart, Woman Smarter,” which was propelled by The Rhythm Devils. Kreutzmann and Hart used the beat they laid down for “Man Smart, Woman Smarter” as the base for their “Drums” excursion. Burbridge stuck around to help the pair bang out one of the more melodic “Drums” of the tour. Hart moved over to The Beam as Oteil and Billy pounded out rumbling rhythms.
When the instrumentalists return they played around with a few riffs before Chimenti inserted an anthemic run on piano. The rest of the band, including the drummers, latched on for what turned into a stellar jam. All six members added impressive contributions to the standout post-“Space” improv that eventually gave way to the end of “Viola Lee Blues.” Weir then trotted out “Looks Like Rain” for its tour debut. Bobby belted out the classic with plenty of emotion. Last night’s second set concluded with a particularly bluesy “Not Fade Away.” Dead & Company then said farewell with the evening’s fifth and final tour debut, “Brokedown Palace.” Next up for the sextet is two nights at Citi Field in New York City. Webcasts are available via nugs.tv.
Pro-Shot Videos (via nugs.tv)
Full Show Audio (Taped by Bill Goldberg)
Setlist (via RatDog.org)
Set One: Hell In A Bucket (bw), Next Time You See Me (jm), Ramble On Rose (bw), When I Paint My Masterpiece (bw), Cumberland Blues (all), Black Muddy River (jm), Don’t Ease Me In (jm)
Set Two: Feel Like A Stranger > (bw) Viola Lee Blues > (all) China Cat Sunflower > (bw), I Know You Rider (all) Man Smart, Woman Smarter > (bw) Drums > Space > Viola Lee Blues (Reprise) > (all) Looks Like Rain > (bw) Not Fade Away (all)
Encore: Brokedown Palace (jm, bw)