Dead and Company returned to Citi Field with an 18-song performance of two sets in yet another rite of passage to summer. Starting off slowly and finding the groove on “Shakedown Street” and “Alabama Getaway”, they quickly got the crowd pleasers out of the way. By the time they took on “The Music Never Stopped” and the set closer “Easy Answers”, they were a well-oiled, rockin’ machine firing on all cylinders.
Grateful Dead members — Bob Weir, drummers Billy Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart, and bassist Oteil Burbridge — laid down the earthly beats and solid rhythms from the Deads cannon that keyboardist keyboardist Jeff Chimenti colored and guitarist John Mayer dosed with some delicate thunder out of his PRS guitars.
Singer-songwriter/guitarist Mayer bridged the generational divide of the Grateful Deads ‘60s era psychedelia and his own stylistically clean take on the blues. Taking on Garcia’s riffage he breathed life into the fat mans spacey notes and melodic noodlings into a dynamic edge that was uniquely his, yet still Jerry’s. Chimenti’s tasty twinkling’s on the keys filled in the gaps as the guitars and drums fused into one. It was, however, Mayer’s fretboard work — under the tutelage of Weir — that really set this band on fire
He delicately fingerpicked his way through the quiet moments, then let it rip, pickin’ hand over the louder numbers catching the wave of the bands dynamic, that push and pull of time and space that defined the best of the Grateful Dead.
The second set started out with a jazzy and rambling interpretation of Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme”, then caught fire on the jungle beats of “The Other One”, the downright funky “Estimated Prophet”, and “Althea” that Mayer sang. “Terrapin Station” started off slowly then built into cosmic showdown and back to the “A Love Supreme” theme during the space jam then onto the drums solo. Kreutzmann, Hart and bassist Oteil played their polyrhythm’s off the cavernous stadiums echo chamber of concrete and steel that ended with the bone shaking boogie-thon and return of “The Other One”.
“U.S. Blues” and “Goin’ Down the Road Feelin’ Bad” ended the night as Mayer, Orel and Weir all took a verse, as the drummers laid down their Bo Diddley beat for the crowd’s long shuffle to the parking lots, LIRR and the city bound 7 trains, proving once again, “What a long strange trip it’s been!”