Long Strange Trip: Dead & Company Conclude Final Tour in San Francisco
Photo Credit: Hana Gustafson
On Sunday night in San Francisco, Dead & Company performed the last concert of their final tour at Oracle Park. During the evening, bassist Oteil Burbridge paid tribute to Jerry Garcia, having applied the guitarist’s recognizable handprint to the side of his profile in white paint. On the opposite coast, New York City recognized the band’s achievements, lighting up the Empire State Building with a psychedelic tie-dye effect to mark the historic end of Dead & Company’s final tour.
The first set commenced with a John Mayer-led “Bertha,” accentuated by Jeff Chimenti’s keys and Bobby Weir’s soft assistance on vocals. The initial song of the night merged into The Rascals’ original “Good Lovin’,” complete with a driving backbeat courtesy of Mickey Hart and Jay Lane. To complement the chorus, Weir added “too easy,” driving his admiration for the night and the people during the cover. A soulful “Loser” ran into an Burbridge-sung “High Time.” In fitting fashion, the band nodded toward the day of the week with the biblically infused traditional, “Samson and Delilah.” The aforementioned number saw a solo from Chimenti, who glided his fingers across the keys as many had before him, nonetheless making the moment his own.
With the night’s energy reaching new heights, the band decided to turn it up even further by adding “Althea.” From the first notes, it was clear Mayer had hit his stride, closing his eyes and letting the music guide him as the band moved through the tune. While it seemed like the first set was coming to a natural close, Dead & Company landed on a pairing of Traffic’s “Dear Mr. Fantasy” with The Beatles’ “Hey Jude” coda, a perfect combination for the stadium atmosphere, as the sold-out crowd sung back the favored late-‘60s lyrics, which faded into the final song of the frame, a soaring rendition of “Bird Song.” Its lyrics: “Don’t cry now, don’t you cry,” felt especially fitting given the dynamic nature of the night.
After the set break, the band returned to their places on stage and cut into pulsating sister tunes, “Help on the Way” > “Slipknot!” Snappy guitar electrified the mid-section of the jam, which paired well with Hart’s calculated beats. Those who were not already on their feet, rose with recognition of the initial notes of “Franklin’s Tower.” “Estimated Prophet” emerged next and served as a locational ode to California–where the Grateful Dead got their historic start. “Eyes of the World” got special attention, with big keys, a bass solo, and Hart’s build into “Drums,” which saw Burbridge assist on the banjo bass and Hart excel on balafon. “Space” was all about the Beam, propelled by Meyer Sound, and inspired by the longtime drummer’s experiences with Ram Rod, Tom Paddocks and more. Images of Hart’s drumming career appeared on oversized screens, often morphing into distorted versions of hypnotic renderings.
At the end of “Space,” the first lights became visible in the sky, and drones created recognizable imagery associated with the Grateful Dead. Subsequently, the band started to work back into their grove, and beams of color ignited the night sky. Understanding the touching nature of the final show, Weir led the group through a stunning “Days Between.” The cool, emotional number was dropped into “Cumberland Blues.” Burbridge was visibly excited, dancing with his instrument as they migrated through the coal-tinged number. To the pleasure of the crowd, they added “Sugar Magnolia” before walking off stage.
After a momentary absence, the band was back for their encore, which kicked off with “Truckin’,” before they got deep during their send-off, a moving display of “Brokedown Palace,” perfectly picked given the water-side location and feel of the night. Then, for their absolutely last song of the final tour, Dead & Company reprised The Cricket’s “Not Fade Away,” evoking a clap response from the audience, who continued the chant even after the band had brought up their crew, and Hart addressed the crowd: “You’re only as good as your crew.” He then turned the flattery toward those in attendance, adding, “Without you, there would be none of us.”
Watch clips from last night’s show below. Replay the concert via nugs.net, visit this link.
Dead & Company
Oracle Park – San Francisco
July 16, 2023
Set I: Bertha > Good Lovin’ > Loser, High Time, Samson and Delilah, Althea, Dear Mr. Fantasy > Hey Jude > Bird Song
Set II: Help on the Way > Slipknot! > Franklin’s Tower, Estimated Prophet > Eyes of the World > Drums > Space > Days Between > Cumberland Blues > Sugar Magnolia
Enc.: Truckin’ > Brokedown Palace > Not Fade Away