Dead and Company played a memorable show Saturday night (June 22) at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro. The boys from San Francisco Bay impressed this longtime fan and pleased those assembled – something that was certainly expected, and always a joy!
The latest iteration of the Grateful Dead continues to inspire and thrill. The band basically invented the “jam band” genre, without specifically intended to do so of course. They weave jazzy riffs, improvisational guitar solos and heavy bass lines, along with two percussionists for a totally unique sound.
Like a great jazz band, every member takes solos, and the egalitarian nature of the band, which goes back to its late 60’s origins in San Francisco, defines every show. There’s no leader/front man – all are equal, and all are beloved by fans.
The Grateful Dead ended their long run with the death of cultural icon Jerry Garcia in 1995, but the core of the Dead who remain is strong as always. Bob Weir up front on guitar delights; it’s like seeing an old friend. Original percussionists Micky Hart and Billy Kreutzmann continue to explore news sounds no one would have thought possible 50+ years ago when they started out.
The addition of guitar genius John Mayer a few years ago raised a few eyebrows, (as his Madonna t-shirt Saturday), but Deadheads practice a “live and let live” philosophy, and no doubt Mayer has become an integral part of the collective and a fan favorite. He fits right in!
Of course Dead fans know the setlist is never the same. Saturday was a particularly strong night and saw the band kicking things off with a dreamy version of “Eyes of the World.” Next up was a high energy take on “Deal” with Mayer leading the way on guitar and vocals.
The First set continued with crowd pleasing favorites include Weir’s “Black Throated Wind,” the Dead’s “Easy Wind” Garcia’s “Loser,” and “Bird Song,” and closed with a delicious version of “Box of Rain.” Mayer briefly forgot the lyrics, and needed a re-start, which only endeared him more to fans. We like to see the humanity in our entertainers every now and then.
The second set was centered around classic Dead tunes. They opened with “Help on the Way/Slipknot!/Franklin’s Tower” from the 1975 album Blues for Allah. A moving version of “He’s Gone,” followed, with the crowd joining loudly, “He’s Gone, nothing’s gonna bring him back.” The core of the 2nd set was “Dark Star,” a symphony of improvisation, and major crowd favorite.
The fan passion for each band member was evident and applause rose whenever keyboardist Jeff Chimenti and bassist Oteil Burbridge took a solo. And the drummers Hart and Kreutzmann got a lot of love, especially during the wistful Drums/Space sequence mid-set.
The show peaked with high energy rockers; all covers that the band has made their own over the years. The Buddy Holly classic “Not Fade Away” was strong as ever followed by the blues stand “Goin’ Down the Road Feelin’ Bad,” a great sing-along. The encore was “The Weight,” another classic and homage to the band’s origins.
WhatsUpRI photographer Rick Farrell was there and shares these pics of the show. Enjoy!