Photo by Katie Friesema
Last night Dead & Company brought their musical furnishings to Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in Beth, N.Y. as part of their Summer Tour 2022. The evening saw several tour debuts during their first set along with a bust-out of “Big Boss Man,” which hasn’t been heard live from the group since 2019.
Unfortunately, percussionist Bill Kreutzmann did not perform at all during the set and was replaced by Jay Lane–though he was able to close out their show a few days earlier at Pine Knob Music Theatre, in Clarkson Mich. on June 29, 2022
Dead & Company opened up their set with “Deal” and swiftly segued into “Shakedown Street” through the funk inclinations of bassist Oteil Burbridge. The band continued to jam having a corking good time allowing keyboardist Jeff Chimenti to pepper some jazz piano into the mix. Next, Dead & Company busted out “Big Boss Man” marking the tenth time they’ve played it live and the first time in nearly 50 shows. Mayer handled vocals on the 1960s tune penned by Luther Dixon and Al Smith and first recorded by Jimmy Reed. It’s notable that it entered the Grateful Dead’s live performances in ’66 with Ron “Pigpen” McKernan handling leads and was shelved after their Europe ’72 tour in London until they brought it back nearly a decade later in 1981.
Dead & Company continued with another tour debut, a saccharine rendition of “It Must Have Been the Roses,” also led by Mayer. After the swooning single, Bob Weir step forward and took on “Me And My Uncle” and Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried.” “If I Had The World To Give” served Dead & Company’s final tour debut of the evening and the penultimate track of the first set. The ensemble took their time before the set break and Weir’s extended “Let It Grow” brought set one to a close.
They opened their second set with “Let The Good Times Roll,” a frequent and beloved set opener. After a short pause, they started their non-stop jam of a second set, starting with the first verse of “Dark Star” which quickly morphed into their classic arrangement of “Help On The Way” into “Slipknot!” into Franklin’s Tower.” The tried-and-true pairings carried on as Lane and Micky Hart took control of the stage together on “Drums” freely exploring rhythm which came to a climax as Hart blanked the fans in attendance from The Beam after which the rest of the band rejoined in classic fashion for “Space.”
They continued by circling back to “Dark Star” in pristine and full condition before they moved into “Althea” on which Mayer shared a virtuosic solo. For the final meld of their jam, Dead & Company allowed some darkness to seep in with the melancholic “Death Don’t Have No Mercy.” However, the band allowed spirits to rise as they closed with “Not Fade Away” and the crowd sang together finding warmth and strength in their united love for the group.
After a brief break, Dead & Company returned to the stage with another Haggard cover and an appropriate final song, “Sing Me Back Home,” which unsurprisingly has been played before during 2022’s summer tour but was the first time they used it for an encore this year.
Dead & Company will play again tonight, Saturday, July 2 at Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass. Livestreams are available via nugs.net.
Set I: Deal > Shakedown Street, Big Boss Man, It Must Have Been the Roses, Me and My Uncle > Mama Tried, If I Had the World to Give, Let It Grow
Set II: Let the Good Times Roll, Dark Star > Help on the Way > Slipknot! > Franklin’s Tower > Drums > Space > Dark Star > Althea > Death Don’t Have No Mercy, Not Fade Away
Enc.: Sing Me Back Home
Jay Lane on drums in place of Bill Kreutzmann for entire show