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Dead & Company Go Big On Blues To Round Out Father’s Day Weekend Run At Las Vegas’ Sphere [Video]

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2024 Artist Mihali Square N
2024 Artist Mihali Square N

Dead & Company capped off a phenomenal Father’s Day Weekend at Sphere in Las Vegas with a performance that dads, grads, Deadheads, and everyone in between could enjoy. After a heavy-hitting Thursday night show and a mellow, melodic Friday edition, the sensational sextet of Bob Weir, John Mayer, Mickey Hart, Oteil Burbridge, Jeff Chimenti, and Jay Lane returned to the world’s wildest planetarium for three-and-a-half hours of music that was heavier on the blues than its weekend predecessors.

The night began with Bob in the vocal lead on “I Need a Miracle”, as the crowd settled into the milieu of the make-believe rocket hangar all around them. The doors then parted to reveal the Dead’s old hangout in Haight Ashbury. Bob continued to hold down the mic, while John and Jeff engaged in their nightly musical mind meld, during “Eyes of the World”. Meanwhile, the eyes of every audience member gazed upon views of the world above San Francisco en route to a view of a vibrant cosmos.

Once in deep space, Dead & Company made sure everyone in the building was “Dancing in the Streets”, wherever their minds might’ve been at the time. The sky above transformed into spiraling, rainbow-flecked vortices of dancing bears, terrapins, skulls, peace signs, and winged eyeballs in flight. From there, the band slowed the tempo a bit. John, ever the blues maestro of his time, went deep into his bag of guitar tricks on Tampa Red’s “It Hurts Me Too”. All the while, the dome filled with flowers for a “screensaver” featuring an animated skeleton adorned with a crown of roses.

Bob retook the vocal lead on “Cassidy”, which served as the perfect soundtrack for the journey through a golden tunnel that ended at the pyramids of Giza in Egypt—a nod to the band’s legendary 1978 performances beneath the watchful eyes of the Great Sphinx. A shower of scarlet begonias then befell that Egyptian landscape to the sweet sounds of “Sugaree”. John gently shepherded the audience into setbreak by way of both his own vocal prowess and his consistently electric chemistry with Jeff on keys.

Thirty minutes later, the band returned to the stage, surrounded by a tapestry of colorful, thunderbolted skulls. That visually arresting sight gave way to an expanding, multi-colored plume of paint in water, as Bob serenaded his way through “China Cat Sunflower”. He and John then split lead duties on “I Know You Rider”, as the whole artifice transported from San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom to Cornell University’s Barton Hall before once again whiplashing between the Fillmore West and Radio City Music Hall.

Bob remained rambunctious on vocals for a twirl-worthy version of “Playing in the Band”. The gentlemen jammed along to the backdrop of a room with walls comprised of posters, patches, and stickers from Dead shows over the years. At one point, those walls flickered into neon, and further still into holograms that extended well beyond the bounds of comprehension.

John shouldered the load as lead during “Cumberland Blues”, but rather than diving into the depths of the Cumberland mines, the Sphere’s symphony of LEDs brought the Dead’s famed “Wall of Sound” back to life in riveting detail. That track also offered perhaps Oteil’s most brilliant bass jam of the weekend—including a scintilla of Mayer-esque simpatico with Chimenti’s keys.

After that bass-led leg of the evening, Bob sang the praises of California’s burning shore as John hit the swampy notes on “Estimated Prophet”. All of that came as accompaniment to a rainbow portal of skulls that dropped the crowd into a purple lake beneath a sky full of auroras, some of which took the shapes of bears and terrapins. That trip begat the nightly voyage into “Drums” and “Space”, the former seeing Mickey, Jay, and Oteil bang along within concentric circles of every drum imaginable, before descending into a cavalcade of careening kaleidoscopes. During the latter, the visuals drifted off into an ethereal, multi-colored starscape whose shifts in shape and scope Mickey masterminded in real-time with both his barrage strings and a separate set of keypads.

Bobby emerged as the calming shepherd from the cacophony, bringing the packed house down to (something like) Earth with a beautifully rendered “Days Between”. A relatively simple display of the band in black and white on screen more than sufficed as Jeff tickled the ivories with his typical aplomb. The John-Jeff connection once again took control during “Viola Lee Blues”, even as the venue slipped into a spiraling tunnel that terminated inside a lava lamp.

Dead & Company — “Viola Lee Blues” — 6/15/24

[Video: Grateful Lux]

On a night full of the blues, it was only right for Bob and John to tag-team their way through “U.S. Blues”. Better still, the band trotted out the screensaver of Uncle Sam’s zombie rising from the grave and hopping onto a motorcycle to ride through a psychedelic landscape. The nightly path back to Haight Ashbury came with Bob serving up vocals and John wailing away on guitar to a surprisingly late-in-the-set “Dark Star”. For the now-customary concluding photo montage, Bob kept the mic as Dead & Company sent revelers onto the Las Vegas Strip for “One More Saturday Night”.

But before wandering off into a Dead-less week before the band’s upcoming 4th of July run (and wondering what the bounds of live music production are anymore), consider a few takeaways from a weekend at the Sphere:

  1. Never miss a Thursday show. If this trilogy was any indication, the weekend opener can be an absolute treat, replete with a killer setlist—and, of course, visuals beyond belief.
  2. Don’t walk away, get a refreshment, or even go to the bathroom during “Drums” and “Space”. If anything, strap in for a truly multi-dimensional experience of sight and sound, complete with in-seat haptics that will have you tingling with every drum beat and string tug.
  3. Get to the Sphere. Whether for the Dead or the Eagles or whoever might follow. Madison Square Garden’s latest manifestation of mind-melting imagination is nothing short of a marvel of artistic engineering that will challenge every aspect of what live music can (and should) be.

Fans hoping to get in on the action with Dead & Company at Sphere can find tons of face-value tickets for the entire run via CashorTrade. By choosing CashorTrade over other sites you are supporting real fans, not brokers trying to offload inventory. Unlike other platforms, you may even stumble upon a miracle. Browse what’s available on the site here.

Looking for your next musical adventure? Missing Twiddle? Come see Mihali at the second annual Golden Road Festival, a three-day, all-inclusive, immersive, and intimate boutique experience this November. Mihali is going to bring his multi-instrumental talents to the breathtaking foothills of the Sierras with a creative set like no other. Be one of the lucky 200 guests, where everyone gets the full VIP treatment. Grab your package by June 30th to take advantage of the interest-free installment plan. Learn more and find tickets here.—

Setlist: Dead & Company | Sphere | Las Vegas, NV | 6/15/24

Set One: I Need a Miracle, Eyes of the World, Dancing in the Street (Martha Reeves and the Vandellas) > It Hurts Me Too (Tampa Red), Cassidy, Sugaree
Set Two: China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider (Traditional) Playing in the Band > Cumberland Blues, Estimated Prophet > Drums > Space > Days Between, Viola Lee Blues (Cannon’s Jug Stompers) > U.S. Blues > Dark Star, One More Saturday Night

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Source: L4LM.com