Dead & Company Entangle Citi Field For Two Nights & Prove ‘The Music’ Needs John Mayer (SHOW REVIEW)

With the soundboard from Saturday’s show Dead & Company show playing through the speakers, the magnificence of the first show at Citi Field is confirmed. Guitarist John Mayer has made no secret of the fact that he found the Dead’s music at a time where he hit rock bottom. He was a bona fide pop star with “Your Body Is A Wonderland” and “Daughters” and had gone through a string of A-list girlfriends that might even make Derek Jeter jealous. Then he got a little too fond of hearing himself talk.  He dabbled in stand up, made some really inappropriate Tweets and endured two surgeries on his vocal cords. But after steering clear of the Dead while growing up in Westport, CT (early idols being Hendrix, Stevie Ray and Buddy Guy), he started listening to them on Sirius XM, first being moved by a live version of “Althea.” Then Bob Weir paid a visit when Mayer filled in as the host of The Late Late Show and the seeds of Dead and Company were born.

Mayer may have needed the Dead, but this music also needed him. This band is the most fun interpretation of the GD since the Jimmy Herring/Joan Osborne outfit of 2003 and Saturday’s show was a perfect example.  They opened with “Shakedown Street” with Donna Jean on guest vocals for the first 75 percent of the show.  She wasn’t all that audible (even on the soundboard) but it was nice to see her back in the fold. “Shakedown” melted into a nice “Jack Straw” which segued into “Althea.”  The rest of the set: “Loose Lucy,” “Ramble on Rose,” “Sugaree,” “Passenger” and “Casey Jones” were all similarly strong. “Sugaree.” in particular  featured some really fiery jams from Mayer and the set-closing “Casey Jones” went into a double-speed finish that was reminiscent of the breakout version at RFK in 1992.

Before he got the gig, everyone knew John Mayer could play guitar.  If you saw him induct SRV into the Rock Hall or play “Respectable” with the Stones in Newark, you were already sold. But did you really think he could tear through a set-opening “Dark Star”?  It was really good. A fast “Friend Of The Devil” with Weir and Mayer dueting, was the perfect counter and led into an excellent “Scarlet Begonias->Fire On The Mountain.” The “Other One” that came out of “Space” was also a surprisingly good forum for Mayer’s talents and “Wharf Rat” was equally solid.  After “Throwing Stones” ended the set, the crowd was treated to a “Ripple->One More Saturday Night” double encore with Mayer sporting a Mets jersey.

Sunday night started like it wanted to kick Saturday’s ass. The delicate opening of “St. Stephen” suggested that the band wasn’t messing around. “The Music Never Stopped” allowed Donna to reprise her trademark vocal.“Bertha” gave way to a “Black Throated Wind” with Weir giving it everything he had and more.Things slowed down a bit with Weir’s version of “Peggy-O” and Mayer’s second crack at “Box Of Rain.”  But “Goin’ Down The Road Feeling Bad” allowed everyone to take a verse, including Oteil Burbridge, sporting a lightning bolt mohawk.

Set II started with a pre-”Truckin’” jam that sounded more like something Phil and Friends would do.  However, it eventually allowed Mayer to really stretch out and settled nicely into “He’s Gone.”” Help On The Way->Slipknot!” featured the tightest playing of the night and the subsequent “Franklin’s Tower” even paled in comparison.  The jam out of “Space” sounded a bit like “Terrapin Flyer,” but ended up being “The Days Between.”  While Bobby has turned it into a fitting tribute to Jerry since his passing, it can really slow things down, especially when it’s the first song on the other side of “Drums.” “China Cat Sunflower->I Know You Rider” and the “Samson & Delilah” encore were all good, but not quite as good as the standard they had set for themselves the night before.  That’s how good they’d been.  If you don’t believe it, listen to that Saturday “Dark Star.”

Dead & Company Setlist Citi Field, New York, NY, USA 2016, 2016 U.S. Tour

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8 Responses

  1. Nice to see Bobby and the boys still grinding it out. For those of us that first saw the Dead 40 years (or more) ago we still miss Pig and Jerry, but as Bobby sang ‘ the music never stopped’

  2. The author thinks that music is some sort of proof.

    That’s the thing with Mayer, He is an average gitar player who got better, has decent technique so he can noodle and solo smoothly over changes. He def woodshed on the Jerry stuff, but its no that hard if you are a pro player, Referencing his SRV copycat stuff is not gonna appease any people who have his un-originality, and no n unique tone, style , lack of classic hit heady material. He did well, but so did Otiel and the rest of the gang, it was a good show. He can recreate some of the Jerry vibe, but not all of it. His chromatic pullofs are not the same or the quarter not bends. Jerry innovated the style and re learned when he came out of a coma. Mimicry is great or channeling, but half the battle is innovating it as far as genius.

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