The energy at MGM Grand Garden Arena May 27 was palpable, as tie-dye-outfitted fans of Dead & Company danced their way into the concert while a light aroma of weed filled the air. The group—consisting of Grateful Dead members Bob Weir, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzman alongside John Mayer, Oteil Burbridge and Jeff Chimenti—got right to Grateful Dead’s biggest hits, and in true jam-band fashion, the entire show felt like one long song. Up and down, left and right, high and low, the band seemingly played without any pauses for the three and a half hours.
Bill Kreutzmann graced the audience with a perfectly balanced drum performance that kept the band and the crowd from spinning out of control—it was nice to see that this show wasn’t about John Mayer, a star musician in his own right. More so, it was about the fans and the band being one, which The Grateful Dead always managed to incarnate (or so I’ve heard from many fans).
The band’s encore performance began with a rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” and as they reached the first chorus, a picture of Gregg Allman (who had died earlier that day) appeared behind the band—and the crowd lost it, the entire arena erupting with empathetic applause. The music then peeled open like a jam-band banana, with the crew reprising a cover of “Playing in the Band” before putting down their instruments, approaching the front of the stage and taking a bow.
Photos by Ron Koch