Dead & Company
PNC Music Pavilion
June 10, 2016
Halfway through "Eyes of the World," to kick off the band's second set, Dead & Company hit its stride. Every member of the group — Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann, Mickey Hart, John Mayer, Oteil Burbridge, Jeff Chimenti — was finding his groove in the pocket and allowing the song to take flight in every dimension for more than 20 minutes.
Consider the first set a warmup for the group consisting of three members of the Grateful Dead — Weir, Hart and Kreutzmann — alongside pop-rocker John Mayer, bassist Burbridge of the Allman Brothers and keyboardist Chimenti, who has played with various related lineups in the post-Grateful Dead world.
From the opening notes of "The Music Never Stopped" through "The Promised Land," Dead & Company rarely strayed from the safe pathways for the one-hour first set. They found a bit of legroom during "Cassidy," but it was at times disjointed and far too meandering to be cohesive. Perhaps they were saving up to savior later.
The band hit it out of the park with "Eyes" only to cruise into "Deal" and a stellar "Estimated Prophet." It was a one-two-three punch that was as invigorating as it was exhausting. Each extended tune gave Mayer plenty of time to shine and Mayer did his best to serve the songs without overshadowing them.
That was the concern going in for many Dead fans. How would the pop-leaning Mayer fit in with jam's greatest connoisseurs? The answer is — just fine. Mayer's vocals did the part of storyteller while his guitar work balanced the spirit of Jerry Garcia with the right hints of modern flare.
By the time the second set ended, the crowd was ready for an encore, but the night's curfew put that to a stop. The band returned to the stage just before 11 p.m. only to tell the crowd, "We've run out of time."
Having seen the Dead in various formats over the last 26 years — including The Grateful Dead, The Dead, The Other Ones, Furthur, Ratdog, Phil Lesh & Friends — I can say this iteration will do just fine with fans and newcomers alike.
It'll never be the same, but it's similiar. And that's good enough to keep the spirit going.
The Music Never Stopped
Cold Rain and Snow
Friend of the Devil
They Love Each Other
The Promised Land
Eyes of the World
Feel Like a Stranger
Turn On Your Love Light