Dead and Deader

dead&coAny week when I see the Dead perform twice is a good week. That means last week was a good one.

The Grateful Dead (touring these days as Dead & Company) began a new tour in New York with two shows at Madison Square Garden followed by a Philly show. I went to one of the MSG shows and the Philly show.

How were they, you ask?

Let’s start with a major bias. Every show I’ve attended (starting in 1971) has been good to great, so I do not grade on a curve. But the honest truth is that the Dead on their worst days are better than Doctor Hook & the Medicine Show on their best (PS I have see Dr. Hook in the 70s—they were not terrible)

So I would say these shows were in the middle of the pack among the maybe 100 Dead concerts I’ve attended—I never counted honestly. To me Dead concerts include all configurations and Garcia/Weir bands as well. New Riders are not included (OK, there was 1 New Riders show at the “Felt Forum” that both Garcia and Weir played, so maybe that counts). But does it matter?

concertIn any event, I want to give MAJOR props to “& Company” part of the band—John Mayer (lead guitar), Oteil Burbridge (base) and Jeff Chementi (organ). The three new members joined original Dead members—Bob Weir and drummers Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann—to create Dead & Company in 2015. Actually Chementi had a head start since he had played with Weir’s band Ratdog and the Weir/Lesh band, Furthur for many years. The 3 new members mesh well, and what’s interesting is that I am no longer viewing them as the “new guys”, but rather as higher energy members which wear Dead mantle proudly as their own, and are doing a great job doing so. Truth of the matter is that Weir especially needs some energy beside him. He is 70, and Hart and Kreutzmann are even older, so 4-hour shows in city after city takes a toll. And some shows on the tour are back to back and, unlike Joel Embiid, Weir can’t take a DNP on back to back shows. Hey, I was tired just attending two shows in a week and I recently turned a youthful 65.

As it relates to the two shows I attended, my only beef was that the song selection wasn’t my favorite. If you want to see my ideal show set list, click here. The Philly show was very mellow in the first set, and I was a little disappointed, but the second set rocked.

Here are the set lists from the two shows (I have highlighted what I thought we the best songs)

NY-Madison Square Garden–Tues November 14

Set 1:

Hell in a Bucket

Cold Rain and Snow

Me and My Uncle

Brown-Eyed Women

Tennessee Jed

Bird Song

Man Smart, Woman Smarter

Set 2:

Help on the Way


Franklin’s Tower

China Doll

Estimated Prophet



A Love Supreme

Stella Blue

St. Stephen

Not Fade Away


U.S. Blues

Gotta love St. Stephen, NFA and U.S. Blues. 15 minutes of musical bliss.

The Philly show’s first set was too mellow (for me), but finished strong:

Wells Fargo Center–Thurs November 16

Set 1:

Dancing in the Street

Ramble On Rose

Row Jimmy

Friend of the Devil

Minglewood Blues

West L.A. Fadeaway

Let It Grow

Set 2:

Dark Star


Smokestack Lightning


Eyes of the World



Dear Prudence

Uncle John’s Band

Going Down the Road Feelin’ Bad


Black Muddy River

Any show which has Deal and Uncle John’s Band is a good one by definition. Their tour continues but these look like the last shows (for me) on this tour. Until we meet again.

There is nothing like a Grateful Dead concert.

More Strumings

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