Photo: Alive Coverage

Get in the groove and let the good times roll

We’re gonna stay here till we soothe our soul

If it takes all night long

Last night, Saturday, May 18, Dead & Company capped its first weekend of concerts as a part of its Sin City residency at the new technologically advanced venue known as the Sphere, in Las Vegas. During the event, the band continued to work through the Grateful Dead songbook, reprising classics and complimenting the delivery with fitting imagery, which took concert-goers on a visual journey from start to finish. 

A customary late-80s and early-90s concert starter for the Dead, the 21st-century off-shoot, Bobby Weir, Mickey Hart, John Mayer, Otiel Burbridge, Jeff Chimenti, and Jay Lane, reprised the Sam Cooke original, “Good Times”  as the first song of the Saturday’s stand. Like Google Maps, graphics of the Earth captured from space took over the screens, presenting a global topography that complemented the road dog anthem, “Truckin’.” The Howlin’ Wolf original and one of the earliest covers of the Grateful Dead’s archive, “Smokestack Lightning,” arrived ahead of the recognizable instrumental intro on “Sugaree,” helmed by Mayer.

After a selection from Jerry Garcia’s 1972 eponymous solo debut, the ensemble clicked into a pull From The Mars Hotel, singing, “Thank you, for a real good time,” on “Loose Lucy.” The on-screen graphics perfectly complement the ensuing number: a sunken ship featuring Dead adjacent iconographies like red roses surrounding a signature stealie on the sails and psychedelic compliments sprawling the ocean’s floor, underwater mushrooms included. To boot, they cascade through a pair of fan favorites, “Tennessee Jed” and “Casey Jones,” reprising the use of backstage passes, posters, and ticket stub imagery on the latter and taking it further with distorted coloration for an even trippier effect. 

Animated “Scarlet Begonias” rained from the ceiling to start off the second set, paired with sister tune, “Fire on the Mountain,” which got special treatment from Hart, who rapped on the original. Notably, the latter pull felt like a nod toward Mt. St. Helens’ historic May 18, 1980 eruption, an event which the original band paid tribute to during the third in a series of follow-up volcanic puffs on June 12, 1980, at Portland, Ore.’s Memorial Coliseum. A disco ball turned, producing beams of light as the band worked into “Eyes of the World,” blobs of illumination became mini-reproduced screens and eventually an animation that looked not unlike Pacman, with skulls, peace signs and other symbols dancing across the ceiling. 

Mountain imagery, similar to the Pacific Northwest’s Cascade Range, appeared on screen as the band worked into “Lady With a Fan,” which was alluded to as a setlist inclusion via the night’s poster art (see below). As the number merged into “Terrapin,” the sky dissolved, revealing a pair of circular live shots focusing on band members with a Bertha skeleton separating the pair. Fittingly, the jam vehicle merged into the second set staple “Drums” and “Space” and eventually an emotive “Stella Blue.” Hypnotic swirling, almost liquified colorations emerged as the band ran through “The Wheel.”

As if riding a motorcycle, the Sphere audience cruised through “Going Down the Road Feeling Bad” with Uncle Sam’s skeleton straddling the bike and steering the journey. More imagery of the cosmos engulfed the screens as the band landed on “Throwing Stones,” at one point unleashing a meteor shower and, at other times, a simple shot of the place we all call home. As done on nights one and two, an old news clip separated the second set from what would be the encore, a homage to the day of the week on “One More Saturday Night.” 

Scroll down to view last night’s setlist. Visit for tickets and more information on the band’s current residency.

Dead & Company 

Sphere – Las Vegas 

May 18, 2024 

Set I: Good Times, Truckin, Smokestack Lightning, Sugaree, Loose Lucy, Ship of Fools, Tennessee Jed, Casey Jones

Set II: Scarlet Begonias > Fire on the Mountain, Eyes of the World > Terrapin Station > Drums > Space > Stella Blue, The Wheel, Going Down the Road Feeling Bad, Throwing Stones

[Old News Broadcast of the Grateful Dead], One More Saturday Night