The Grateful Dead at Levi’s Stadium (Santa Clara, CA – June 28, 2015)
I watched the second Concert of The Grateful Dead via webcast – a series of five shows to celebrate the 50th year since the Grateful Dead was formed in 1965. There was a bit of a controversy around what guitarist was going to be taking Garcia’s spot. Recently, John Kadlicek from tribute group called Dark Star Orchestra, had been playing with a mixture of The Dead and other musicians in a group called Furthur. He could play guitar and sing just like Garcia. However, for this big experience, the remaining original four Dead members – Weir, Lesh, Hart, and Kreutzman – decided to go with Bruce Hornsby on piano, Jeff Chiemento, on keyboards and Trey Anastasia (Phish) on guitar.
Anastasio had played with Phil Lesh and friends for a while, when Phil would get many sets of musicians together to play. This was their second official concert together, though. The webcast was done very well, and this group sounded great. They played two sets that lasted approximately two hours each, with an hour break in the middle. They had not originally planned on playing the Santa Clara shows, but this is where they got started as a band called The Warlocks 50 years ago. It was a real moving ending tonight, with both band members and crowd becoming tearful at the end.
The first nine-song set was very slow moving but with members playing well. Once in a while Lesh gave Anastasio a reminder or gesture of some kind.
Some standouts were opener “Feels like a Stranger,” sung by Weir. Hornsby sang a great version of “Brown Eyed Women”. Weir sang a great version of “Loose Lucy,” with a bit of a different guitar background melody by Anastasio. My favorite song of the set was one I had not heard in a while – “Row Jimmy,” sung by Weir, with some excellent guitar by Anastasio. Anastasio, meanwhile did a superb job of playing and singing “Alabama Get Away.”
The band finished set one with “Hell in a Bucket,” where Anastasio played a very creative lead which finally put a big smile on Lesh’s face.
After the break, they started the second set with “Mississippi Uptown,” sung by Lesh and Anastasio. Then they moved into a slow jam, which gave way to Weir singing “Wharf Rat.” Then came the segue into a delightful “Eyes of the World,” with Anastasio delivering some smooth, jazzy guitar licks. They broke into a quick turn on “He’s Gone,” which was well-done, but with some laughter because of people forgetting which verse was theirs. Anastasio sounded great singing and playing this song. But, soon after that it was time for the drums with Kreutzmann, Hart, and another young man who was playing a tom-tom-type drum. They unleashed an excellent version of “Sugar Magnolia,” which got the crowd going.
Overall, I thought they sounded great, though they kept it pretty mellow, ending with “Fare Ye Well” for an encore.