LIVE: Dead & Company @ Times Union Center, 10/29/15

“The only thing there is to say
Every silver lining’s got a touch of grey
I will get by, I will get by
I will get by, I will survive…”

Yes, for one night last week, Albany was the center of the jam-band universe as Dead & Company launched their maiden tour at the Times Union Center, before heading down to NYC for their big two-night Halloween weekend stand at Madison Square Graden.

Carrying on the Grateful Dead spirit and vast song catalog, Dead core members Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann and Bob Weir teamed up with keyboardist Jeff Chimenti, bassist Oteil Burbridge and guitarslinger John Mayer for the sprawling two-set show that touched on most facets of the band’s rich musical history.

Of course, blues and pop hitmaker Mayer was the big X-Factor, but in fact, he slipped into the classic Dead sound with aplomb on guitar, and from his first lead vocal on “Cold Rain and Snow” to the encore of “Touch of Gray,” in which he shared the lead vocal chores with Weir, it was clear that he had done his homework.

The tempo during the first set seemed a bit sluggish overall, but the energy picked up in the second half, particularly with “Help on the Way>Slipknot>Franklin’s Tower.”

Certainly there are those who are second-guessing Mayer’s selection to fill the guitar chair – just as there were with Trey Anastasio at this summer’s GD50 shows – but in Albany, it sounded as though the Grateful Dead’s legacy is still in good hands…

AUDIO: Recorded by Bill Goldberg

Playing in the Band
Cold Rain and Snow (voc. John Mayer)
Tennessee Jed
Feel Like a Stranger
He’s Gone (voc. John Mayer)
Bird Song (voc. John Mayer)
The Music Never Stopped
Lost Sailor
Saint of Circumstance
Help on the Way
Franklin’s Tower (voc. John Mayer)
The Other One
Stella Blue
Not Fade Away
Touch of Grey (voc. Bob Weir & John Mayer)

Pete Mason’s review at NYS Music
Bryan Lasky’s review & photographs at JamBase
James Shahen’s review at The Times Union
Brian Mergentime’s review at Billboard
Rich Gastwirt’s review and photographs at Grateful Web
Andrew Francke’s review and photographs at Glide Magazine
David Singer’s review at The Daily Gazette: “Dead & Company, the latest version of the ever-shrinking Grateful Dead, began its tour at the Times Union Center Thursday night with a quintessential mid-‘80s set-list. The surprisingly great show delivered numerous weighty moments, which ascended through the night to peak in the heart of the second set with ‘Help on the Way-Slipknot-Franklin’s Tower’ and culminating with a fantastic ‘Stella Blue’ led by Bob Weir. John Mayer, the wild card on lead guitar, made his Dead debut Thursday. He laid all the doubters to rest during the spacey opener ‘Playing in the Band.’ This slow version — the entire first set of songs were slow and sluggish but cool — left plenty of room for Mayer to get comfortable. He started in quickly, fiddling gently inside the band’s groove before stepping out of their circle and cranking up his own raw, bluesy tones. The full house gave him a hearty welcome and the night was off and running.”

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