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Dead and Company // Live @ PNC Pavillion // 10.11.2021

Photos and review by: Jason Robey

CHARLOTTE, NC — The legacy of the Grateful Dead carries on into its fifth decade, as the current version of the group, Dead and Company, kicked off their fall tour in Charlotte on Monday night. The lineup of Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann, and Mickey Hart, along with John Mayer, Oteil Burbridge, and Jeff Chimenti, has been touring since 2015.

Carrying on the tradition of the Dead and their community, the experience begins hours before the band hits the stage, with traveling vendors selling art, clothing, and food in the parking lot. Monday’s lot even included a Grateful Dead tribute band. The mass of people that hang out in the lot turns every show into a complete festival. At the line to enter the venue, fans could be heard making their predictions for the evening’s setlist. Over the past six years as a group, Dead and Company have stuck with originals and covers played by the classic Grateful Dead, adding more songs to their repertoire from time to time.

When the lights went down for the first set, the band burst into a lively take on the 1954 Sam Cooke classic, “Good Times,” often referred to as “Let the Good Times Roll” in Grateful Dead circles. The song set the perfect tone for the evening, as thousands of fans danced and cheered to the upbeat tune featuring Weir, Mayer, and Chimenti each taking turns on lead vocals for a verse. The first set included two ballads, “It Must Have Been the Roses” showcased soulful vocals from John Mayer, while Bob Weir took the mic for a spellbinding performance of “Looks Like Rain.” The set closed with an inspired jam section of “Bird Song,” hinting at what was coming after the intermission.

The group returned with an energetic run through “Scarlet Begonias,” accented by kaleidoscopic images on the trio of LED screens surrounding the stage and a vibrant light show. Dead and Company have been experimenting with twists on typical setlist structure, song pairings, and transitions in recent shows, keeping long-time fans on their toes. Since the late 1970s, “Scarlet Begonias” has moved seamlessly into “Fire On the Mountain” whenever played, tonight they threw a curveball at fans by sandwiching “Uncle John’s Band” in between.

One undeniable highlight of the show was the mesmerizing performance of “Terrapin Station,” with its dramatic build-up section and awe-inspiring instrumental ending. This led to a decades-old staple of every show by any version of the Grateful Dead known as “Drums/Space,” which has evolved in recent years into almost a mini-rave, with Oteil Burbridge joining the percussion duo of Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart. The set ended with a trio of songs from the 1971 album Workingman’s Dead. The bluesy “Black Peter” was a vehicle for truly exquisite guitar work from Mayer.

As “Casey Jones” wound the set down with only two minutes before the 11:00 curfew, the band put down their instruments and checked their watches, and decided to forego the standard practice of leaving the stage for an encore. Instead, Weir and Mayer picked up acoustic guitars and the band went out on a beautiful note with the emotional “Ripple.” Catch Dead and Company on tour across the country through the fall.

Jason Robey
Jason has a deep relationship with music, as a performing musician, avid concert-goer and professional audio engineer. He has a passion for the local Phoenix music scene, as well as indie music from all over. He also enjoys writing, photography and anything that can make him laugh. Instagram: yitbos69 Twitter