Sunday, June 12, 2022

Dead And Company at Dodgers Stadium, 6-11-22 Concert Review

Dead And Company performing "Good Times"
Dead And Company started the summer tour last night at Dodgers Stadium, and spirits were high before the show. The last show the band played was also here in Los Angeles. That show was on Halloween, and of course we had all expected to hear a “Werewolves Of London” encore that night. But due to what I assume was a time restriction, the band remained on stage at the end of the second set then and played “Brokedown Palace.” So I got to thinking that maybe, just maybe, the band would start the Dodgers Stadium show by finishing the last show. Could a “Werewolves Of London” opener be in the cards, I wondered. My friend Jon thought it was unlikely, and I agreed, though of course these guys have a history of surprising audiences. So I figured, being it was the first show of the tour, they would start with either “Cold Rain And Snow” or Sam Cooke’s “Good Times.” But I made a point of telling the folks in front of me my “Werewolves” idea, just in case.

At 7:15 p.m., much sooner than we’d expected, a cheer went up in front of us. We stood up (our seats were on the floor – Section A2, Row 27, Seats 3 and 4), and sure enough the band was on stage. The show was scheduled to start at 7, but we figured the band wouldn’t come out until at least 7:30 because security was taking its sweet time getting people through the gates, and at 7:15 p.m., the place was not even a quarter full. Seriously. We got in line just before 5:30, when the doors were supposed to open, and it took us quite a while to get through. First of all, the doors didn’t open on time, though we think that was due to the fact that the soundcheck wasn’t yet complete. We could hear the guitar from outside. But then, rather than just letting folks walk through the metal detectors, these guys were asking to look through every purse and every pocket, peeking under every hat. One security guy even took a close look at both of my water bottles to make sure they hadn’t been tampered with in any way. And I thought, shit, if they invest this much time with each person, and perform their work with this kind of scrutiny, some people will still be in line when the band starts the second set.

Well, they did not surprise us with the first set opener, choosing Sam Cooke’s “Good Times” (often referred to as “Let The Good Times Roll”), and jamming on it a bit at the start. John Mayer was wearing a pink and black California Dead shirt, the same shirt the woman in front of us had on (one of the people with whom I shared my “Werewolves Of London” hypothesis). Bob Weir really delivered on the line, “Time doesn’t mean that much to me.” Oh yes, he had us convinced, and certainly in our state, time meant very little. The guys followed “Good Times” with “Playing In The Band.” Yeah, these early moments in the set had the feeling of a party, to be sure. And I wondered if the guys would stretch out on “Playing” so early in the show, or if they would keep that party vibe going. But why not go for it? After all, time doesn’t mean much anyway. That was made clear. The jam moved at an easy pace. They didn’t seem in a rush to get to the outer reaches of space, but were confident they’d make it anyway, easing past satellites, casting glances their way as they did, everything floating. Propulsion wasn’t necessary, because either way, we were there, and now communication began in earnest, particularly the guitars, which had something going with whatever beings populated those realms. The jam suddenly settled, sooner than expected, and actually the song was over at that moment, incomplete, making us wonder if they’d return to it at the end of the set.

“Feel Like A Stranger” followed, with Bob singing, “You know it’s gonna get stranger, so let’s get on with the show.” That line always gets a cheer. It’s what we were there for, after all. This song became a funky experiment with a steady groove. Green spongy asteroids slowly approached us on the screen behind the band. “It’s going to be a long, long, crazy, crazy night.” We hoped so. And it was so good to see Bill Kreutzmann again. He was absent from the Halloween show due to health issues, but seemed to be totally back in form last night. At one point in the jam, they dipped into “My Favorite Things” from The Sound Of Music, which came as a surprise, while orange flower popcorn moved in a slow spiral dance toward desired oblivion, rising to paradise, or perhaps just to another floor of some oddly angelic tenement. It was uncertain. They followed that with “China Doll,” with Oteil Burbridge on lead vocals. It was an odd, unexpected place for this song. Things were moving so slowly at that point that it was like a strange haze had descended over the proceedings. And why was that cop copter circling overhead? There was some good, kind of bluesy guitar work from John Mayer, and my friend determined it was time for another edible. Sure thing. Everything and everyone seemed to come together when Oteil sang, “Take up your china doll.” And around that time I spotted myself and my friend Leelen when were fifteen years old. How had we gotten there?

Everyone in the crowd seemed happy the moment “Brown-Eyed Women” started. This song has that thing, you know, making it capable, and nearly certain, of doing that, even if it’s not Jerry Garcia up there singing. Who is this John Mayer youngster anyway? Jeff Chimenti was rocking it on the keys. Yes, this song brought the entire audience together. It led straight into “Jack Straw,” which eased in, and for the first moment or two I wasn’t certain which song it was. Then something about its vibe shook my memory, tickled the past. “You’re moving much too slow,” Bob sang, and indeed the song did feel a bit slow. The “silver” line felt a bit buried rather than punctuated, as it often is. And it looked like the sun was then completely down. It was a bit difficult to determine from within the park, with the pitcher’s mound so close. And who is this Shannon person anyway? John Mayer and Bob Weir briefly discussed something, and then the band launched into “Casey Jones.” This was the first time I’d seen any configuration of Grateful Dead members play this song, so it was a thrill for me that they chose this song to close the first set. Plus, it was a good version. The beer and the water I’d been drinking demanded to be let out, so as the song was ending, I danced my way over to the loo. The first set ended at 8:23 p.m.

Set break, and time for another edible. A little calculation led me to think I might not feel it until “Drums,” but that was fine. The plan was to find Shakedown Street after the show anyway, not to get on the road right away. We had been told the general direction it was in before the show, but it looked like a long walk and it was still kind of hot, so we’d decided to make that particular journey at night. People around us were guessing “Touch Of Grey” for the second set opener. I guessed “Shakedown Street,” but I didn’t have any strong feelings about it. At 9:07, the lights went out and a cheer went up. The band started the second set with “Althea.” No one around me had guessed that as the opener, but Jon and I did talk about it in the car on the way in. I figured John Mayer wasn’t going to let pass the first opportunity to play this song in nearly eight months. Smoke swirled on the screen as the guy in front of me asked for a lighter, and just then John delivered the song’s Hamlet reference, a moment in the song that always makes me happy. Wow, have eight months really passed since the last show? Time is flying. And you can be sure that John delivered some great work on guitar here. He was clearly ready for this, eager for this.

As the band began “Scarlet Begonias,” the audience became excited. This song is a crowd favorite. And here we got shown the light, though not in the strangest of places. Things were moving now, with bright streaks darting through walls and hills, and the ground rising up to the sky, lifting everyone. The groove slid deftly between planets, the worlds shifting slightly to give it the space it needed, and that was when things started getting interesting, the band journeying into less familiar territory. And, rather than “Fire On The Mountain,” as probably everyone was expecting, they went into “China Cat Sunflower.” Another surprise, and an interesting choice, taking things in a different direction. There were some gloriously sharp edges to the guitar work. And of course then we weren’t sure what to expect. Would they return to form and go into “I Know You Rider,” or would they go back and do “Fire On The Mountain”? The uncertainty was part of the fun. Like I said, it’s great that these guys can still surprise us after all these years. The groove felt like it could lead down many different avenues, and at one point it seemed to pick up in pace, but then we saw we were still firmly in “China Cat” territory. And it led to “I Know You Rider.” We all felt the optimism of the sun going to shine in our back doors someday. And Bob really tore into the “headlight” lines. There was a great fiery energy to this song. There were moments when I forgot where I was, but the band never seemed to lose track, so everything was fine. The song had a big finish. And, yes, they then played “Fire On The Mountain,” the lights turning red. There was a playful moment when Oteil almost came in a bit soon on the vocals. Ashes flew up from the tongue, or were swallowed. This was kind of a sweet, fairly gentle rendition.

“Drums” began in an electronic landscape, with a beat that rose as from a cauldron, the sound bubbling to the surface, or maybe through an intricate set of pipes, every inch of them a musical instrument. Bang the pipes, communicate with the gods. It was a beat to keep us moving, to keep the lava flowing, taking place in a nightclub in the South American mountains, with lesser deities manning the door and bar. There were moments of humor on the stage, and then things got weird, a hot sun rising over a green world, large and close, the flowers reaching to be absorbed. Mickey Hart was ready to drive the entire thing into deep space himself. There was a machine within, its mechanical heartbeat spitting letters, code. And when the other musicians returned to the stage, there wasn’t much they needed to do, seeing as how far Mickey took them out. Now it was actually up to them to get us all home again, and gently, painlessly, with of course a few stops along the way. And what emerged from “Space” certainly was a surprise. I don’t think the Grateful Dead played “Dear Mr. Fantasy” at all after the death of Brent Mydland, and I can’t recall Dead And Company tackling this one before, but the band played it last night. No, it didn’t have quite the same power, the same juice as when Brent was with the band, but it was great to hear. And they did go into the “Hey Jude” finale, as the Dead used to do with Brent. However, it was a “Hey Jude” jam. It looked like Bob was going to sing at one point, and certainly many in the audience were singing, but the band kept it a jam. “Stella Blue” followed, and this was a touching rendition of one of my personal favorite songs. The band wrapped up the second set with “One More Saturday Night.” It was, after all, a Saturday. Though once again I was reminded of a shirt that I had started to design in late 1994. The front of the shirt was to have a close-up drawing of Jerry’s face, with an index finger over his lips, urging us to be quiet. The back was going to say “Don’t tell Bob it’s Saturday.” The set ended at 10:52 p.m., and it was only several seconds before the band came back out on stage for the encore. And the encore was “Werewolves Of London.” Hurrah! It was so good to finally hear this one. I had thought maybe they’d open the show with it, but instead they closed it with this fun Warren Zevon cover. As soon as they recognized the song, the folks in front of me turned around to share that moment with me. Bob seemed to get confused about the lyrics toward the end, but no matter, it was a great ending to a fantastic night of music. The concert ended at 11:04 p.m.

Set List

Set I

  1. Good Times
  2. Playing In The Band
  3. Feel Like A Stranger
  4. China Doll
  5. Brown-Eyed Women >
  6. Jack Straw
  7. Casey Jones

Set II

  1. Althea >
  2. Scarlet Begonias >
  3. China Cat Sunflower >
  4. I Know You Rider
  5. Fire On The Mountain >
  6. Drums >
  7. Space >
  8. Dear Mr. Fantasy >
  9. Hey Jude
  10. Stella Blue
  11. One More Saturday Night


  1. Werewolves Of London

 Here are a few photos from the show:


before the show

"Playing In The Band"

"Scarlet Begonias"

By the way, we never did find Shakedown Street after the show. We walked in the direction we had been told, and several others were going the same way, but either it was even farther than we went, or it had been quickly dismantled. So my new car is still without Grateful Dead stickers. Next time.

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