Grateful Dead’s Second ‘Fare Thee Well’ Show Offers Broader Mix: Photos, Video, Set List
The Grateful Dead immediately found a familiar groove on their second night of Fare Thee Well reunion shows at Santa Clara, Calif., opening with a fierce and funky take on "Feel Like a Stranger." Throughout, they seemed much more relaxed than the night before, especially guest star Trey Anastasio.
That led the Grateful Dead much farther afield. While the first of these reunion concerts, held June 27, offered a focused excursion of the pre-1971 repertoire (replete with the classic Live Dead-era triptych of "Dark Star," "St. Stephen" and "The Eleven"), their Sunday night performance (June 28) explored a broader mix of songs from throughout the Grateful Dead's long history.
Familiar Jerry Garcia/Robert Hunter classics such as "Brown Eyed Women," "Row Jimmy," "Loser" and "Black Peter" filled the first set. Bruce Hornsby took lead vocals on "Women" and the moody "Loser." His delicate and fluid piano adds so much to this line-up, serving as the perfect foil for Jeff Chimenti's Hammond organ licks and fills and meshing seamlessly with the rest of the band.
Bob Weir put the slide to good use on a stomping "Minglewood Blues," punctuated by some great roadhouse playing by Chimenti. He also got in a fantastic solo during a bouncy take on "Alabama Getaway," where Anastasio took the lead vocal. On Saturday, it seemed as if Trey was being very methodical and focused, so it was fun to see him cut loose on night two. He never tried to mimic the vintage Garcia sound, nor did he sound like his usual work with Phish. His playing is fluid and energetic and, as Phil Lesh and Weir both said, "he was the right man for the job."
"Black Peter" was a somber choice in an otherwise cheery set, but Chimenti's bluesy organ and a roaring Weir on the final refrain lifted the song from a weary paean to a defiant dirge. The Grateful Dead closed out Sunday night's initial set with a fiery update of "Hell in a Bucket," featuring inspired guitar interplay between Anastasio and Weir.
The Grateful Dead's second set opened with Lesh taking lead vocals on "Half Step Mississippi Uptown Toodeloo," which I'm sure was off everyone's radar for a second-set opener prediction. Anastasio's solo before the "Across the Rio Grande ..." coda was just beautiful. The tune soon devolved into a shimmering jam that seemed to recall the previous night's "Dark Star," but instead the familiar notes of "Wharf Rat" ascended from the chaos. Soon, 70,000 people had joined in a goose pimple-inducing chorus of "I'll get up and fly away." After that, "Wharf Rat" gave way to another truly spacy jam that featured some ferocious shredding by Anastasio. The jam went deep, calling up all manner of sonic furies, until finally the Grateful Dead transitioned into the joyful and buoyant "Eyes of the World." That gave way to a bittersweet rendition of "He's Gone," as more than a few folks in the crowd dabbed at tears while swaying to the music.
Saturday night's "Drums" sequence was a personal highlight for me, as Mickey Hart banged on "The Beam" with a metal pipe while controlling the sounds through a device that looked like a Theremin, sending waves of sub bass through everyone in at Levi's Stadium. A day later, Bill Kreutzmann and Hart brought in Nigerian percussionist Sikiru Adepoju, a longtime friend who played an African talking drum. Kreutzmann and Hart performed on their giant war drums, while the talking drum provided a hypnotic pulse.
As the rest of Grateful Dead returned to the stage, there was a very brief "Space" segment, before the band tried to land Deadhead anthem "I Need a Miracle." The transition wasn't as smooth as others that evening, but the intro was soon sorted out. "Death Don't Have No Mercy" brought us back into bluesville, with Chimenti's organ and Anastasio rolling off some tasty licks. It felt like a sort of "bonus track" from the night before, considering its history as a late '60s concert staple.
After a raucous "Sugar Magnolia" closed the show, Lesh thanked the audience for another incredible night. Weir then asked for a moment of silence for "those who can't be with us." I don't think anyone in Santa Clara was surprised by the Grateful Dead's encore selection. The poignant "Brokedown Palace" was the perfect farewell. After all seven musicians took their final bow, Hart implored us to "take this great feeling you have right now, take it home and do something with it."
The Fare Thee Well concerts continue July 3-5 at Soldier Field in Chicago, the site of the Grateful Dead's final show with the late Garcia on July 9, 1995. Click right here to find out more about how to watch or listen.
Grateful Dead Setlist, June 28, 2015
"Feel Like a Stranger"
"New Minglewood Blues"
"Hell in a Bucket"
"Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodleloo"
"Eyes of the World"
"Drums / Space"
"I Need a Miracle"
"Death Don't Have No Mercy"
Encore: "Brokedown Palace"