Two Years After Their First Shows, Dead & Co Will Return To The Garden A Band Evolved [Videos]

first_imgThis Sunday, November 12th, Dead & Company will begin their 2017 Fall Tour with their first of two shows at the storied midtown Manhattan oasis that is Madison Square Garden. Coming off an overwhelmingly well-received summer stadium tour, excitement is high for the latter-day Dead incarnation’s return to the World’s Most Famous Arena, where they played 2 of their first 3 (and 3 of their first 6) shows as a unit in 2015. When Dead & Company hits The Garden’s stage on Sunday, they’ll do so as one of the most successful touring acts in the world. However, when the band announced their first shows at MSG in 2015, they were met with decidedly more skepticism than excitement.Bob Weir And John Mayer Talk Dead & Co’s Beginnings And The Legacy Of The Dead In New InterviewFrom the moment the Dead & Company lineup was announced, the virtue of the project was debated by fans at excruciating length. One common gripe was how closely this new band followed summer 2015’s Fare Thee Well, a 5-show limited engagement billed, at least implicitly, as the end of the Dead’s story. Hundreds of thousands of people planned trips to catch the “final” Dead shows in Santa Clara and Chicago, which featured all four surviving original band members (Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Bill Kreutzmann, and Mickey Hart) as well as keyboardist Jeff Chimenti, pianist Bruce Hornsby and, finally, Phish frontman Trey Anastasio filling the vacant Jerry Garcia “role”. Many fans who shelled out big bucks to bid the band farewell felt as though the announcement of Dead & Company just one month later cheapened the finality and significance of the Fare The Well experience.Other fans were unhappy that Phil Lesh had been removed from the equation–although few were upset about the choice of former Allman Brothers Band bassist Oteil Burbridge as a replacement. But the main source of Deadhead outcry about Dead & Co centered around the new band’s choice of guitarist–a position previously filled by highly respected musicians like Warren Haynes, Jimmy Herring, John Kadlecik, Steve Kimock and, most recently, Anastasio, in other post-Jerry incarnations of the Dead…Dead & Company would feature…wait…John Mayer? Am I reading this right? That cocky pop-bro “Your Body Is A Wonderland” kid? The choice simply did not compute for many fans. Trey–the leader of his own religiously-followed band–had famously put himself through Grateful Dead “boot camp” to get ready for his 5-show run with the band at Fare The Well. Did Mayer even know who the Grateful Dead were? They’re not on pop radio, last time we checked…At the time, Deadheads’ knowledge about Mayer was largely confined to his bubblegum pop hits and his famously shitty attitude. How do you go from Trey Anastasio to John fuckin’ Mayer? How could the band let this uninitiated, outsider, mainstream asshole try to fill Jerry’s enormous shoes?Remembering John Mayer’s Trip Down The Grateful Dead Rabbit Hole [Videos]But despite reservations from many diehard fans, Mayer was serious about his new gig, and about the music that it aimed to celebrate. In an early Billboard interview, Mayer explained that he was late getting on the bus (he didn’t discover the band until a Pandora station played him “Althea” 2012), but instantly fell head over heels in love with the music and mythology of the band–a feeling virtually every Dead fan can understand. In the same piece, Weir claimed that Mayer was actually the driving force behind the band’s creation, explaining that the younger guitarist’s enthusiasm “was the cherry on the sundae that made this project look like a good idea.”The skepticism about Mayer began to dissipate as soon as the band began playing shows. Throughout their first few performances, reports started to surface about Mayer’s technical proficiency, colorfully passionate vocals, and Jerry-inspired riffing; about how he had clearly studied the material; about how visibly appreciative he was to be sharing the stage with these legendary musicians.Bob Weir & John Mayer Wish Each Other Happy Birthday In Adorable Instagram PostsThe third of three 2015 Dead & Company MSG shows took place two years ago today, and served as a sort of coming out party for the newly formed group: Thanks to a sponsorship from American Express, all of the seats for the show were distributed free of charge via lottery or, for those who happened to be walking by, via AmEx promo workers literally passing out stacks of tickets on 7th Avenue around showtime. Live video of the show was also streamed via the AmEx YouTube channel, giving the masses their first real taste of the new lineup, and their first solid evidence about its merit after months of heated debate. And while the show was far from perfect, it served as a sort of widespread “eureka” moment for Deadheads everywhere: Dead & Company was actually pretty good!You can watch full pro-shot footage Dead & Company’s 11/7/15 free show at Madison Square Garden (their 6th show as a band) below via YouTube user GratefuLSD:With multiple tours and scores of shows now under their belts, Dead & Company has vastly matured as a unit from that first run of dates. Their performances this past summer received consistently glowing reviews. They have delved ever-further into the Dead’s live catalogue, begun to settle oranically into their roles within the band. The group’s new blood has breathed palpable new life into the Dead’s classic compositions, and feels as though they’re only just starting to really hit their stride.Dead & Co Surprises Fans With Free Webcast Of Beautiful Blossom Show [Full Show Pro-Shot]In the time since those first MSG shows, Mayer has largely won over the reluctant Deadhead base. These days, the Trey comparisons tend to swing the other direction, with even the biggest Phish fans admitting that, “OK, Mayer may actually be a better fit (but Trey only prepared for 5 shows, and Mayer has been in this band for years now, so it’s apples-to-oranges, you know?)”, etc. Over the course of his tenure with Dead & Co, Mayer’s growth as an artist and as a person has been clearly apparent, and his genuine humility and gratitude toward his “dream job” and all that it entails has endeared him to the Dead’s famously stubborn fans. For now, it seems the group has no intention of slowing down. Mickey even recently hinted at potential plans for the group to hit the studio to record some new music together.John Mayer Uses Full Page In Billboard Magazine To Express His Gratitude To The Grateful DeadWatch full pro-shot footage of Dead & Company’s show at Blossom Music Centre on 6/28/17 to see how far they have come as a unit in their two years together:Dead & Company Kicks Off Final Run Of Summer Tour At Wrigley Field [Photos/Videos]In November, 2015, Dead & Company rolled into MSG with a chip on their shoulders, seeming like a poorly thought-out cash-grab playing to hopeful yet skeptical fans. Today, two years later, they’re one of our favorite bands on the road, and we’re genuinely excited to follow their latest tour.Thank you…for a real good time.For a full list of upcoming Dead & Company Fall 2017 tour dates, head to the band’s website.[Cover photo courtesy of Phierce Photo by Keith G., Instagram: @phiercephoto]last_img

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