Sunday, July 8, 2018

Dead And Company at Dodgers Stadium, 7-7-18 Concert Review

Dead And Company performing "Ramble On Rose"
This past week, record temperatures were noted all over the world. I was in Santa Clarita, where the temperature hit 114 degrees on Friday. It felt like the planet was dying. According to the weather folks, it was supposed to cool off to 100 degrees or so in Los Angeles for Saturday’s Dead And Company concert at Dodgers Stadium. I had seen the Grateful Dead on some pretty hot days – Foxboro in the summer of ’89, Raleigh in the summer of ’90. But, as my friend Jon Rosenberg pointed out, we were a lot younger then. Shit didn’t bother us like it does now. And my car’s air conditioning wasn’t cooperating, forcing hot air into my car, regardless of how I adjusted the dial. Fortunately, Jon offered to drive to the concert, mainly because he was worried we might actually die in my oven-on-wheels on the short ride there.

Shockingly, there was no traffic on the way in, and we parked in Lot 1, where Shakedown Street was. It cost us $35 to park. That’s insane. What exactly does the facility fee on our tickets pay for then? We pondered that for a few moments, then headed into the venue. Our seats were on the floor. That is, in the outfield. I was able to walk over to third base and stand there for a bit, which I admit was kind of a thrill for me. In addition to being a big Grateful Dead fan, I am a big baseball fan (go Red Sox!). Standing there, seeing the field from that new perspective, I felt that it wasn’t all that far to home plate. Give me just the slightest of leads, and I will steal home. No problem.

The tickets indicated the show would start at 7 p.m., but a little after 7, the place was still slowly filling up. Very slowly. The line at the security checkpoint wasn’t all that long when we went through, but it moved incredibly slowly. I asked one of the guys there, “How long will it take to get everyone in?”  He said: “We should get everyone in by eight. What time does the show start?” “Seven,” I told him. “Oh,” he said. The temperature on the floor was significantly cooler than I’d expected, and cooler even than up by the concession stands. My friend Jon and I had kind of braced ourselves for horrible conditions, and so we were pleasantly surprised.

At 7:31 p.m., the band came out, and kicked off the first set with “Playing In The Band.” And they got right into it, no sort of introductory jam. Of course, the song turned into a jam, and it was good. Nothing spectacular, but the night was just beginning. That led straight into “Bertha.” I still can’t get used to John Mayer’s voice, but this song is always a fun choice. It seemed to pick up some energy as it went, and the jam was totally enjoyable. However, they ended it oddly, fading out on the repeated “Anymore” at the end rather than getting louder. An interesting choice, but not nearly as good a choice as a strong ending. “Jack Straw” followed, though for a moment I thought it was going to be “Looks Like Rain.” So did the guy next to me. “Sun so hot.” No kidding. And John Mayer definitely stressed that line. But you know, a light breeze came through right after that, and I was feeling pretty good. “Jack Straw” had a great ending. Things were really coming together now. There was a hardly a pause before the band went into “Big Railroad Blues,” and this song rocked. That was followed by “Peggy-O,” and it struck me how damn good Bob Weir’s voice sounded.

But things really started popping for me on “Ramble On Rose,” which featured some phenomenal work by Jeff Chimenti on keys. The “leader of the band” line didn’t get as big a cheer as it did in the Jerry days, but still got a reaction. This was the first real highlight of the show, and for a moment it seemed like things were going to be derailed right there. Bob said something was fucked up, that there was some difficulty with the power on stage, so they were going to take a break. But before they could leave the stage, someone told him it would take just a few seconds to repair. So Bob took the time to tell that duck joke he’s so fond of. Mickey Hart shook his head at him when Bob began it. Bob has told this joke a few times, but still sort of messed up the punchline. John Mayer then joked that he was going to take that time to perform “Your Body Is A Wonderland.” The guy to my right explained to me that that is a real song. I’d never heard it. Fortunately, things were fixed – at least enough that they could continue with the set – and the band played “Cumberland Blues.” This was an absolutely fantastic rendition, with Jeff really rocking on the keys. This song had a ton of energy. The band was really cooking now. They then chose to close the first set with “Deal,” not one of my favorite Dead songs. This was a fairly mellow “Deal,” though it did pick up some energy toward the end. But then, like “Bertha,” they ended the song very quietly instead of with energy. Strange. Bob said they were going to take a break and test some equipment. The first set ended at 8:48 p.m.

During the set break, a message was on the screen at the back of stage letting us know we could “Relive The Show Free” by scanning our tickets online. Cool! I definitely want to hear that “Ramble On Rose” and that “Cumberland Blues” again.

At 9:26 p.m., the house lights suddenly went out and the band came back for the second set. They kicked it off with “Sugar Magnolia,” a good start. They followed that with “Scarlet Begonias,” a song which is always a lot of fun and gets folks smiling. They repeated the phrase “look at it right” a few times. Bob switched guitars during the jam. There was some really nice jamming, by the way. And the transition to “Fire On The Mountain” was smooth. Oteil Burbridge sang lead on this one, which was nice. I like Oteil’s voice, and I wish that he would take lead vocal duties more often (and that John would take them perhaps a little less frequently). Bob switched guitars again after “Fire On The Mountain,” and the band went into “Althea.” Wow, John really loves this song. Didn’t they just play it at Shoreline, only two shows ago? Well, it’s okay, as I love that song too. And this was a really good version. They jammed on it, and that jam had a lot of energy and some very cool work on bass. “Althea” led directly to “Eyes Of The World,” one of my favorites. And this too was a good version. At one point the song began to slow down, as if it were coming to a close, and I wondered if they’d forgotten the final verse. Or perhaps I had forgotten that they’d already done it; sometimes that happens. But no, the song kicked into gear again. Bob sang, “Sometimes the song that we sing are just songs of our own” rather than “Sometimes the songs that we hear are just songs of our own.”

An unusual and cool jam led to “Drums,” which had a fun electronic dance pulse. “Space” meandered a bit, as it sometimes will. And the guessing began as to what the band would choose for the post-“Space” slot. Jon said, “Maybe ‘I Need A Miracle.’” I told him, “No, they played that last night.” Then I asked him, “Are they doing ‘The Wheel’ at all?” But soon the band eased from “Space” into “Stella Blue.” This was a nice rendition. It led directly into “Sunshine Daydream,” which surprised me. I expected at least one more song before the end of the second set. But no, there were only one and a half songs after “Space.” The second set ended at 10:49 p.m. But the band made it up to us in the encore, playing two songs, neither of which was “One More Saturday Night.” How about that for a pleasant surprise? Instead of the song I fully expected to hear, it being Saturday and all, the band delivered a sweet “Brokedown Palace” and followed that with a fun “Not Fade Away.” And it wasn’t a short “Not Fade Away.” The band jammed on it, as you’d hope they would. They certainly sent us out into the warm night with smiles on our faces. The show ended at 11:07 p.m.

Set List

Set I
  1. Playing In The Band >
  2. Bertha
  3. Jack Straw
  4. Big Railroad Blues
  5. Peggy-O
  6. Ramble On Rose
  7. Cumberland Blues
  8. Deal
Set II
  1. Sugar Magnolia >
  2. Scarlet Begonias >
  3. Fire On The Mountain
  4. Althea >
  5. Eyes Of The World >
  6. Drums >
  7. Space >
  8. Stella Blue >
  9. Sunshine Daydream
  1. Brokedown Palace
  2. Not Fade Away
Here are a few photos:

Before the show. Check out the Dead baseball card on screen.

Dodgers Stadium is located at 1000 Vin Scully Dr. in Los Angeles, California.

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