Dead & Company, the recent incarnation of the Grateful Dead, immersed a Philips Arena full of deadheads and other fans in their unique and timeless jam session for almost three hours on Tuesday night in Atlanta. With two sets that incorporated material from the entire Grateful Dead catalog and some of their better-known covers the event was quintessentially “Dead” from start to finish.
With a slight delay to the start to the proceedings caused, in part, by Bob Weir’s denied entrance into Philips by a security guard because he didn’t have the right credential and personal ID, the patient crowd was treated to an evening of the Dead’s unique and distinct blend of several musical genres.
One of the most fascinating and enjoyable aspects of the evening was the confirmation of John Mayer as an incredibly talented guitarist. Throughout his solo “pop” career Mayer has been constrained to make sure his music fit into the standard pop box. Even with the John Mayer Trio, music that emphasized the blues, he hasn’t been able to really perform freely and creatively. Dead & Company provides such an avenue for him.
Taking the role of lead guitarist for much of the evening, Mayer excelled in an environment that provided him the creative leeway to interpret some of the Grateful Dead’s most renowned tunes embracing the Grateful Dead heritage while putting his own creative spin on the music – excellent all night long! Excellent in the context of Bob Weir’s addictive rhythm guitar
Mayer and Weir split time with vocals and, at times, the sound mixing and the acoustics of Philips Arena conspired to make their voices indistinct, which was a disappointment. Such was the audience’s knowledge of the songs and such was their commitment that every song welcomed full audience participation all night long.
Highlights of the evening started early in the set with “Feel Like A Stranger” getting everyone into the mood immediately. “Bertha”, with Mayer’s vocals and soaring guitar solos, was wonderful as was Bob Weir’s “Cassidy”.
The second set started as strongly as the first with “St. Stephen” and gave the audience a treat with “Drums” and “Space” back to back before having Weir lead “I Need A Miracle”.
The encore of “Brokedown Palace” was a perfectly mellow and restrained way to end the evening providing one last opportunity for a band-led crowd singalong.
Dead & Company are providing their audience a wide-open window into the Grateful Dead catalog, remaining faithful to the spirit and essence of the music while infusing it with a renewed enthusiasm and energy brought by John Mayer. A perfect combination guaranteed to continue to draw large number of fans eager to experience one of the most iconic of American rock bands.
Feel Like a Stranger (Grateful Dead cover)
Cold Rain and Snow (Grateful Dead cover)
The Promised Land (Chuck Berry cover)
Loser (Jerry Garcia cover)
Bertha (Grateful Dead cover)
Cassidy (Bob Weir cover)
Don’t Ease Me In (Henry Thomas cover)
St. Stephen (Grateful Dead cover)
Uncle John’s Band (Grateful Dead cover)
Help on the Way (Grateful Dead cover)
Slipknot! (Grateful Dead cover)
Franklin’s Tower (Grateful Dead cover)
Drums (Grateful Dead cover)
Space (Grateful Dead cover)
I Need a Miracle (Grateful Dead cover)
Morning Dew (Bonnie Dobson cover)
Not Fade Away (The Crickets cover)
Brokedown Palace (Grateful Dead cover)