After their triumphant final concerts at Soldier Field over the summer, three original members of the Grateful Dead have teamed up with John Mayer for a late autumn tour. Last Saturday they performed for over three hours before a capacity crowd at the Nationwide Center in Columbus - putting out good vibes for everyone involved.
Saturday night was my first experience with The Dead. While I've come to respect their music and especially enjoyed their two epochal albums from the early 70s, American Beauty and Workingman's Dead, I never got the live experience.
Grateful Dead concerts consist of extended jam sessions spanning a wide array of genres ranging from jazz, blues, country, and many more.
With Bob Weir and John Mayer on guitars and lead vocals, the night opened with Weir briefly acknowledging the tragic events that took place in Paris.
The show began with a rollicking version of "Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo." The first set emphasized the blues, including a cover of the Willie Dixon classic, "Little Red Rooster."
Seated way at the top of the venue I got a panorama of the crowd jubilantly grooving to the music. The spirit of the 60s made its presence known. I write that with no irony, the notion that music can bring community and transcendence was evident throughout.
After an intermission, the second set featured extended jams with "China Cut Sunflower" and "Eyes of the World." The most poignant moment for myself was a beautiful version of "Black Peter" from Workingman's Dead.
After an exuberant cover of "Good Lovin" by The Young Rascals, the band capped the evening with "Touch of Grey", a surprise hit for The Grateful Dead back in the 80s.
I found the concert exhilarating, relentless, uplifting. A truly unique experience. All the musicians were clearly having fun and playing in perfect harmony. Mayer's excellent guitar playing skills and Weir's passionate vocals made for a great combination.
These shows are a must see for any devotee of rock and roll or for anyone looking for an introduction to discover what it's all about.