When the Grateful Dead called it quits in 1995 following the death of singer/guitarist Jerry Garcia, fans were at a loss, scrambling to find the next form of the Grateful Dead to follow around the country. The remaining members of the Grateful Dead have joined together on a number of tours over the course of the last two decades, but nothing lasted longer than a few years. This latest version of the Grateful Dead, named Dead & Company, features original Grateful Dead members Bob Weir, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann, joined by former Grateful Dead keyboardist Jeff Chimenti and newcomers Oteil Burbridge (Allman Brothers Band) and Connecticut native John Mayer. After a highly successful run of shows this past summer, they decided to reconvene for a Fall tour, which included a stop Wednesday night at the XL Center in Hartford.
As the first notes of the opening song "Iko Iko" rang out through the arena, all worries of violent threats on this show vanished as the sea of people moved in unison to the song's rhythm. Connecticut's own John Mayer would make his presence known early singing lead on the slow blues of "They Love Each Other" as all would be in complete awe of Mayer's skills on the guitar. Fans were pleasantly surprised by the addition of a countrified version of the Grateful Dead classic "Friend Of The Devil." The Dead & Company closed out their first set with an enlightening version of their classic "Birdsong."
The band would kick-off the second set with an epic, 16-minute version of "Estimated Prophet," only to be outdone by their even longer epic delivery of the nearly 20-minute "Eyes Of The World." The song would not only showcase Mayer's exceptional guitar skills, but also allowed pianist Jeff Chimenti and bassist Oteil Burbrige their own moment in the spotlight with solos. Oteil would also sing lead on the mellow "China Doll," that would lead into the fan favorite "The Other Ones." After drummers, Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart performed their trippy solos "Drums" and "Space," Bob Weir would lead the band through the bluesy "Black Peter." Dead & Company would raise the energy in the arena once again, closing out their second set with "Uncle John's Band" and "U.S. Blues," as Mayer and Weir traded verses and the audience would help them out, singing the song's chorus.
The band returned after a quick break as John Mayer lead Dead & Company through a cover of Bob Dylan's "Knockin' On Heaven's Door." Throughout the night, you can see the joy on Mayer's face as his home state crowd delivered the energy that has been keeping the spirit of the Grateful Dead alive for last two decades.
Setlist: Iko Iko, Shakedown Street, They Love Each Other, Loose Lucy, Friend Of The Devil, Bridsong, Estimated Prophet, Eyes Of The World, China Doll, The Other One, Drums/Space, Black Peter, Uncle John's Band U.S. Blues
Encore: Knockin' On Heaven's Door