Photos via Dead & Company on Facebook
Summertime. Open-air concerts. Rock n Roll. Most specifically: the Grateful Dead.
When ~35,000 people congregate together to sing folk songs designed to help you make sense of this world, all existential confusion ceases. When those people cheer for Jeff Chimenti’s raging organ solo, or John Mayer’s slow-building guitar peaks, you can transcend in the sound of their roar. It’s like the Mets won the pennant, every 15 minutes. At Citi Field, even if it were just for moments, we were together, as one, with the drama in the world locked outside the gates of the baseball stadium.
While online trolls bicker about tempo and Garcia’s void, anyone at Citi Field would probably tell you that Friday night was amongst the most special nights of the year. The band was hot, minimizing the warts and firing on all cylinders during their first two-night run of their third annual summer tour. It wouldn’t be at all a stretch to say that this band is playing the best they’ve ever played.
Friday night kicked off with “Shakedown Street”, and drew exclusively from the Dead’s most classic content. “Alabama Getaway” kept the energy up before “Loser” knocked it out of the park. “It Hurts Me Too,” with John Mayer on vocals, is quite different from the way Pigpen sang it 50+ years ago, but damn if the bluesman doesn’t do it justice with his own, revamped rendition. Bobby sounds as excited as ever to shout the lyrics to his cowboy opus “Me & My Uncle”, and when the entire place is shakin’ to “Sugaree”, still in the first set here, it was obvious that we were in for a landmark D&C show.
Second set settled into a more exploratory approach, kicking things off with “A Love Supreme”, a nod to John Coltrane and NYC’s historical jazz scene. That segued into “The Other One”, which wasted little time morphing into a psychedelic “Estimated Prophet”. Things got weird in the best possible way. From there, John Mayer dropped into “Althea”, and there aren’t words I can use to really describe how good the guy is on that song. Taking full responsibility with both vocals and lead guitar, Mayer shines so brightly that it’s hard to imagine anyone doubting him at any moment. He took us for a ride with that one…
“Terrapin Station” made its way into the incredible second set as well, inspiration washing over the entire Citi Field audience. Few things are as beautiful as a huge baseball stadium singing those words, but “The Other One” emerging from “Drums / Space” is certainly one of them. “Days Between” and “US Blues” wrapped things up before Bob Weir came out in a Misfits robe to honor recently-past Dead roadie Chris Charuki during a “Going Down The Road Feeling Bad” encore. It sealed the deal: this show is what we in the jam band scene refer to as a HEATER. H-E-A-T-E-R!