Dead and Company Fenway Park Boston, MA June 18 2017  

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Some photos by Eric Simon, some photos by Stevo Rood.

So my daughter who is just 12 years old has seen a ton of shows.  Her first Strangecreek she was ten days old and that summer she was at five festivals.  So she is way beyond her years in terms of going to shows and fests in general (Wormtown, Nelson Ledges Gratefulfest, Jerry Jam, Ziontific, Strangecreek, Old 78 Farm Fall festival, Camp Creek and more.)  But going to a single band full on huge concert, is a very rare treat for her- she did Ed Sheeran once; and this was her first true Dead show with one of the ‘official’ bands.  She was very excited and it was a perfect maneuver to do for Father’s Day.

We drove in from western MA and parked at Alewife and took the trains into downtown Boston.  We made friends with other passengers and talked about shows the whole time and my daughter got to see the family of fans vibe that surrounds this culture.  We cruised around Fenway handing out handbills for the Max Creek boat cruise and waited for the gates to open.  We were among the first inside, got easy access to bathrooms and vending, found our seats and were chilling.

First set opened and of course once you hear the opening chords and beat of Samson and Delilah you remember- Hey!  It’s Sunday, of course!  And it became quickly true that “You Never Miss a Sunday Show!!”  Samson gave way to Brown Eyed Women with Mayer on vocals and he crushed both the vocals and the extended guitar solo.

Anybody who bitches about John Mayer in this role is doing so from how it looks on paper.  He is doing an amazing job- crushing it as a rock star would. 


Chimenti’ follows Mayer’s guitar solo with a beautiful keys solo that felt more piano driven than keys, and showcased why he is the go to man on the ivories.  His smiling face appeared on the screen frequently.

Johnny Cash’s Big River was proficient middle of set one material, and I got a little worried when Candyman followed as I find it can be dragging and bring a show down- but it didn’t. The opening strains of Let It Grow was a surprise for only the fifth song of the first set.  It was great, and didn’t extend as long as it could have.  I looked at the clock and it was only 43 minutes into the show so I was nervous that they were playing it short.  

But Mayer and Weir grabbed acoustic guitars and a very measured and beautiful Friend of the Devil came up next.  It was a standard version and good, but I can honestly say I’ve heard that song enough in 30 years of listening to this music.

The big surprise came next though.

Check out the photo gallery here. 


Weir and Mayer held onto their acoustic guitars and spilled into a casual acoustic jam.  And the more it coalesced the more I was scratching my head as an acoustic version of Dark Star inexplicably unfolded before our eyes.  An acoustic Dark Star?  Did they ever do that?  It was beautiful and completely bewildering, I never was able to shake that WTF feeling I had during the whole course of the song. And not to be outdone by themselves, they kept the acoustic vibe going with Ripple to close the set.  Nobody in the world who likes the Grateful Dead and their music could complain about such a complete, thorough, and well played set.  The band is in fine form.  Holy smokes.  A very lengthy set break had us all talking and cruising around the stadium and meeting friends. From the video channel of Josh Moscov Set two opened with a jam that hinted at the already played Dark Star but quickly became the Truckin that seemed super logical to open the set.  Oteil and Mayer were both very animated and spirited physically as the seconde set progressed, with jumping and mugging and just general physical energy which is nice to see happening for them on stage.  

Directly out of  Truckin came the opening riffs of Fire on the Mountain sans the typical Scarlet Begonias in that position.  But the real surprise came next when Oteil sang the vocals.  His voice was as sweet and on point as you would expect and he may be claiming the title of best singer with the Dead ever from Mayer with his strength and emotive ability.  I am really intrigued to see where that goes! As Fire was spiraling downward into full band performance without song structure, we all speculated where it was going.  

When the distinctive riffs of St Stephen commenced you could tell that the epic portion of the show was not yet over.  The band crushed one of the most definitive songs of their catalog despite being played rarely.  I had seen Furthur do it, and it feels like Dead and Company have been doing it too, and it really was a classic version of the song.  They faded into Drums which was also very up and both psychedelic and rocking- with amazing visuals popping from the stage.

Space was relatively brief as the instrumentalists came back on stage.  At times the jam felt like it was going through the Eleven possibly, and there was a Days Between tease somewhere in there.  I felt a reference to The Other One but ultimately you could tell that the band was heading into the second half of Dark Star.  Completing the song electric after it had started acoustic was super cool. Jeff Chimenti got a two minute solo keys performance opportunity and that was the first time I had really seen that before from Dead and Company or Furthur.  I’m sure it’s been done but it seemed to herald what I had been feeling before, that more and more power and responsibility and recognition is being passed to the younger members of the band.  

The solo ranged from honky tonk to NOLA vibe and it was beautiful.

From the video channel of Austin Curtis

The Days Between did happen right then, tapping into some of the melancholy reminiscing that everyone does at Dead shows these days, a tip of the hat to the past and our fearless departed leader.  But they brought it all the way back up with a high energy Not Fade Away to close the set.  At times the communication between them was a tad bit weird during NFA, but it seemed classic Dead in that way, not awkward but aw, shucks.

The Brokedown Palace encore was great for me and my daughter as I used to sing that to her for bed time ten years ago.  A perfect end to a perfect Father’s Day.  It was super nice that throughout the day fathers were fist bumping each other and wishing each other a happy Father’s Day.  I declared it “Take your daughter to the park for a Dead show” day and it was perfectly realized.  I suspect she’ll wanna come again next time.

Set list and audio recording by Keith Antaya.

Set 1 01.Samson and Delilah 02.Brown-Eyed Women 03.Big River 04.Candyman 05.Let It Grow 06.Friend of the Devil*> 07.Dark Star Pt I*> 08.Ripple*  

Set 2 01.Truckin’> 02.Fire on the Mountain> 03.St. Stephen> 04.Drums>Space> 05.Dark Star Pt II> 06.Days Between> 07.Not Fade Away

08. Encore:  Brokedown Palace      

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