The Grateful Dead may have officially “Fared Thee Well” at Soldier Field in 2015, but the long, strange trip continued almost two years to the date when its offshoot act Dead & Company moved across town to Wrigley Field. While the former was amongst the most monumental moments in the entire history of rock n’ roll, the group comprised of veterans Bob Weir (guitar/vocals), Mickey Hart (drums) and Bill Kreutzmann (drums), plus pop star turned entirely legit bluesman John Mayer (guitar/vocals), Oteil Burbridge (bass) and Jeff Chimenti (keyboards) actually possessed more chemistry than the previous incarnation on their final tour stop this summer.
With the sun setting and Dead & Company’s swirling light show kicking in, the players returned from intermission rejuvenated and ready to tear into “Sugar Magnolia” and Martha And The Vandellas’ Motown standard “Dancing In The Streets” (whose line “we’re dancing in Chicago,” accompanied by a flash of the Cubs’ logo, could not have been more perfect).
Perhaps that’s because they had the momentum of two sold out shows in the home of the World Series champs, or even more realistically, the fact that Dead & Company have performed much more frequently than the mere five dates of that 50th anniversary line-up (which also included the core three, co-founding bassist Phil Lesh, guitarist/vocalist Trey Anastasio, piano player Bruce Hornsby and Chimenti). Regardless of the reasons, the spirit and smells of the Grateful Dead were undisputedly in the air as the fellas got loose with “Cold Rain And Snow,” “Jack Straw” and “Tennessee Jedd.”
After an easygoing edition of “Dark Star” with Mayer and Weir trading acoustic licks, the paced really picked up thanks to universally familiar favorites “Friend Of The Devil,” “Althea” and “Casey Jones.” With the sun setting and Dead & Company’s swirling light show kicking in, the players returned from intermission rejuvenated and ready to tear into “Sugar Magnolia” and Martha And The Vandellas’ Motown standard “Dancing In The Streets” (whose line “we’re dancing in Chicago,” accompanied by a flash of the Cubs’ logo, could not have been more perfect).
Bob Weir and late great leader Jerry Garcia also got some respective solo love with “Playing In The Band” and “Comes A Time” (soulfully sung by Burbridge), while the celebratory atmosphere built exponentially with “Scarlet Begonias” and “Fire On The Mountain” (as avid Deadhead and NBA great Bill Walton could be seen screaming alongside the entire stadium). The traditional but never exactly duplicated “Drums” and “Space” battles between Hart and Kreutzmann signaled the beginning of the lengthy, groovy end, which wound up clocking in at three solid hours and pointing to Dead & Company’s authentic commitment to carrying on a legacy that probably shouldn’t have said goodbye in the first place.
For additional information on Dead & Company, visit DeadAndCompany.com.
Upcoming concert highlights at Wrigley Field include Jimmy Buffett & The Coral Reefer Band with Huey Lewis & The News (Jul. 15); James Taylor with Bonnie Raitt (Jul. 17); Billy Joel (Aug. 11); Florida Georgia Line with Backstreet Boys, Nelly and Chris Lane (Aug. 12); Green Day (Aug. 24); Lady Gaga (Aug. 25) and Zac Brown Band (Aug. 26). For additional details, visit http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/chc/ballpark/ and LiveNation.com.