The Fare Thee Well celebration came to roaring close last night at Solider Field as the core surviving members of the Grateful Dead took their final bow in Chicago along with special guests Trey Anastasio, Bruce Hornsby and Jeff Chimenti. The show started off on an emotional note as the band members assembled at the front of the stage for a bow and group hug before launching into the opening “China Cat Sunflower” which was followed by “I Know You Rider.”
The energy in the stadium was through the roof as Bob Weir took to the mic for the following “Estimated Prophet” before digging into the title track from the band’s last record, Built to Last. Weir delivered one of his many passionate vocal performances on “Samson and Delilah” before Lesh took the lead on “Mountains of the Moon.”
Anastasio had one of his finest moments of the night on the set-closing “Throwing Stones,” when he dug into an energetic solo that electrified the crowd. The 71,000 on hand (a Soldier Field record) also enjoyed echoing Weir on the “ashes to ashes all fall down” lyric, singing it back to the guitarist in unison before the band exited to close their first set.
The band’s final set was preceded by a fireworks display as the crowd cheered the band back on stage to the opening notes of “Truckin’,” the first tune the band performed on the opening night in Santa Clara. Once again, this provided a final time for the crowd to sing along to the “what a long, strange trip it’s been” lyric before the group launched into “Cassidy” which featured some of the best jamming of the night. As Anastasio and Weir took the lead on the tune, providing compelling interplay throughout, “Cassidy” proved to be one of the highlights of the night.
Anastasio took the lead on “Althea,” so impressively so that Lesh shared a moment with the guitarist after the tune, embracing him after the song. Weir and Lesh then teamed up on a “Terrapin Station” before giving way to a drums segment led by Kreutzmann and Hart.
As the night wound to a close, the group returned for an “Unbroken Chain” following a brief “Space” segment. Lesh led the vocals on the tune and both Chimenti and Hornsby took their time in the spotlight with a keys-based jam before Weir led the vocals on “Days Between.”
The focus all night was on what the band would close with, and how they would exit after five shows. The ceremony would begin with “Not Fade Away,” as the band brought the tune to a frantic peak thanks to Anastasio and Weir, who pushed each other and the rest of the band to a soaring jam. As the song concluded, each band member paid their respects to the crowd and exited one by one as the crowd continued chanting the refrain from “Not Fade Away.”
As the group returned for the first of two encores, Anastasio and Hornsby took vocals on the band’s biggest charting hit, “Touch of Grey.” As the tune proceeded, photos from the band’s history flashed on the screen while the band wrapped up the song. The group returned for one more performance, a stripped down rendition of “Attics of My Life,” with Weir (who humorously sported a “Let Trey Sing” shirt) on acoustic guitar and Anastasio teaming with Lesh to add vocals.
Portrait images of each band member flashed on the screen as the tune carried on, along with pictures of past members, including Jerry Garcia who received an extended salute from the crowd. As the song concluded, the band members took one final, emotional bow before exiting the stage, concluding their 50th anniversary celebration.
Here’s a look at the setlist as it appears in our Box Scores section:
Fare Thee Well
Fare Thee Well, Soldier Field, Chicago, IL
Set I: China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider, Estimated Prophet, Built to Last, Samson and Delilah, Mountains of the Moon > Throwing Stones
Set II: Truckin’ > Cassidy, Althea, Terrapin Station > Drums > Space > Unbroken Chain > Days Between > Not Fade Away
Enc: Touch of Grey
Enc 2: Attics of My Life