Dead & Company Plays The Blues In New Jersey For Sing-Along Sunday Show [Audio/Videos]
Last night, Dead & Company headed to Camden, NJ’s BB&T Pavilion following their well-received performance at New York’s Citi Field on Saturday night. The show opened with “Feel Like A Stranger,” which took on an angelic tone behind Jeff Chimenti‘s funky synth work, setting a focused standard for the set to come…so let’s get on with the show. Chimenti continued to shine with an impressive piano solo on the “Brown Eyed Women” that followed, but the song’s focal point was, without a doubt, John Mayer. The beloved Garcia/Hunter sing-along has proven to be a perfect vessel for Mayer’s distinctive, note-perfect vocals. The way this version sounds, it wouldn’t seem out of place among the guitarist’s own solo work (particularly on, say, 2006’s Continuum). The Dead purists out there may take that notion as sacrilege, but the clearly audible explosion of excitement from the crowd after the song speaks for itself. He doesn’t try to be Jerry. He sings it as John, and it flat-out works.Mayer and Bob Weir continued to trade off lead vocal duties throughout the opening set. First, Weir led the congregation through “Ramble On Rose.” Next, Mayer headed up a honky-tonk “They Love Each Other.” The blues dominated most of the show’s next segment, with Bobby leading Willie Dixon‘s “Little Red Rooster” and Johnny singing Jimmy Reed‘s “Big Boss Man” (and taking the opportunity to show off his well-acknowledged blues guitar chops, to boot) before the two traded verses on the Grateful Dead‘s own “Cumberland Blues.” Finally, “Casey Jones” wrapped the first frame, starting at a faster-than-usual pace and gradually picking up steam from there, to the delight of everyone lamenting Dead & Co’s well-documented tempo deficiencies.Set two started with just Bobby and the drums, as the band transported the NJ crowd to the Bayou with “Iko Iko.” Following the New Orleans anthem, the band kept the blues theme going with “Deal,” one of the shows most memorable highlights. Led by Mayer and propelled by fantastic work from all four pieces of the band’s full “rhythm section,” the tune built to multiple thrilling moments of glorious release before dissipating into an Oteil Burbridge-accented vocal outro and, eventually, into a thoroughly welcome “Help” > “Slip” > “Franklin’s.”Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart took center stage next for their nightly drum-led journey into the great unknown, which eventually rolled into a slowly-turning “Wheel.” When the band segued from there into “Stella Blue,” it was difficult not to feel like the two songs would have played better in the opposite order, but the fan-favorite Garcia ballad was a welcome addition to the set all the same. From there, a short-but-sweet “Sugar Magnolia” rounded out set two, and a heartfelt “Brokedown Palace” sent the audience home singing sweet songs. All said, Dead & Co’s Camden show was an entertaining run through some of the Dead’s most endearing sing-alongs and classic live blues material. Even if it was perhaps slightly less invigorated than their impressive New York performance the night before, the band played impressively as a unit, and had the New Jersey crowd gratefully singing, moving, and rocking their souls all night long.You can listen to a particularly fantastic recording of Dead & Company’s 6/25/17 show at Camden’s BB&T Center from taper Keith Litzenberger (via archive.org user cabinet music):You can also watch pro-shot video of “Feel Like A Stranger” and “Iko Iko” below, via the band’s YouTube page:“Feel Like A Stranger”“Iko Iko”Setlist: Dead & Company | BB&T Center | Camden, New Jersey | 6/26/17Set One: Feel Like A Stranger, Brown Eyed Women, Ramble On Rose, They Love Each Other, Red Rooster, Big Boss Man, Cumberland Blues, Casey JonesSet Two: Iko Iko, Deal, Help On The Way > Slipknot! > Franklin’s Tower > Drums/Space > The Wheel > Stella Blue > Sugar MagnoliaEncore: Brokedown PalaceDead & Company summer tour wraps up this week with a show on Wednesday, 6/28 at Blossom Music Center in Ohio before a tour-closing two-night run at Wrigley Field, home of the MLB’s Chicago Cubs, this weekend. For tickets and info, head to the band’s website.