Dead & Company Rekindle Spirit of Performances Past at Cornell University’s Barton Hall

May 9, 2023
Dead & Company Rekindle Spirit of Performances Past at Cornell University’s Barton Hall

Photo Credit: Casey Martin

Last night, 46 years after the Grateful Dead’s esteemed stand at Barton Hall on the Cornell University campus in Ithaca, N.Y., the group’s original members, Bobby Weir and Mickey Hart, along with their Dead & Company counterparts John Mayer, Oteil Burbridge, Jeff Chimenti and Jay Lane, returned to the fabled location for a night of music that served as a charitable endeavor benefiting MusiCares and the Cornell 2030 Project.

During the double frame gig, the sextet reached into the ether of past performances, thoughtfully nodding to the original 1977 setlist with distinct picks from the era and the Grateful Dead’s fabled college stand. Much like the initial concert at Barton Hall, Monday night commenced with Weir taking the lead on “Minglewood Blues,” a distinct and formulated decision to start the show as it did in the late-seventies. 

Dead & Company integrated “Althea” into the setlist to follow the first song of the night. Mayer took on the lyrics of the Go to Heaven favorite, which subsequently appeared on the Grateful Dead’s setlist when they returned to Barton Hall in 1980. Next, the group delivered a rousing rendition of “Estimated Prophet,” which pulled instrumental elements from The Wailers’ “Get Up, Stand Up,” prior to a free-flowing “Eyes of the World,” which took time to marinate as its players each stretched and morphed the Wake of the Flood tune to new heights. 

Fan favorite “Jack Straw” saw Weir and Mayer toss lyrics back and forth before an ensuing take on “Bertha” caused a stir of excitement. The classic number ran into “Cassidy,” another nod toward the Grateful Dead’s 1980 performance. Before concluding their first set, Dead & Company landed on the Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter-penned “Deal.” Mayer took on the lyrics while the band provided instrumental layers to the ‘80s favorite.

Set break lapsed and saw Dead & Company stride back to the stage for the second half of their Barton Hall stand. Pairs were a theme during the ensuing performance, as the group coupled “Chinacat Sunflower” with its sister tune, “I Know You Rider,” and proceeded with “Help on the Way” into “Slipknot!” The aforementioned number merged into “Franklin’s Tower.” 

A special display of “Drums” and “Space” saw Hart institute the use of bird songs from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The decision to integrate the natural sounds into the rhythmic display was something Hart referenced during his set-break interview on Sirius XM’s Grateful Dead station. The trend will continue throughout the band’s summer tour, with different natural elements inspiring the percussionist’s approach during the second set staple. 

From the depths of “Space,” the band grasped onto reality with the emergence of a cosmic jam that inevitably produced the first notes of “Scarlet Begonias” before a full-on launch into the From the Mars Hotel favorite. A brief tap into “West L.A. Fadeaway” arrived before a complete delivery of “Fire on the Mountain,” which came before a stirring “Morning Dew,” a fan favorite from the original 1977 performance.

The night’s final moments saw Mayer cut into the perfected “Lady with a Fan” lyrics before Weir took on its “Terrapin Station” pair. The emotions of the occasion were captured during the instrumental pick-up, infused with nostalgia for performances past and the ensemble’s coveted upstate New York history. After the group’s one-off concert in Ithaca, N.Y., they will take some time away from the stage before picking up their Final Tour dates on Friday, May 19 at The Kia Forum in Los Angeles. View the band’s summer schedule here

Photographer Casey Martin was on the ground and shared some select shots from last night’s performance. Scroll down to view.

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Dead & Company 

Barton Hall, Cornell University – Ithaca, N.Y. 

May 8, 2023 

Set I: Minglewood Blues, Althea, Estimated Prophet, Eyes of the World, Jack Straw, Bertha > Cassidy > Deal 

Set II: Chinacat Sunflower > I Know You Rider, Help on the Way > Slipknot! > Franklin’s Tower > Drums > Space > Scarlet Begonias > West L.A. Fadeaway Tease > Fire on the Mountain, Morning Dew, Terrapin Station