Dead & Company | November 5, 2019 | Nassau Coliseum | Uniondale, NY – Concert Review & Photo Gallery

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Review by Robert Provencher & Miranda Gatewood
Photos by Billy The Count

It’s been a while since I’ve seen the Grateful Dead in any form at Nassau Coliseum. I have seen one or more of their embodiments play there and a hundred or so other places since the 70s. The Coliseum was recently renovated and the venue was new and clean. And now, the circus has come to town for two nights.

For the first show, two buddies and I headed in early to avoid the delays and see some old friends, watching the tide come in and go out. The parking lot scene was a friendly atmosphere as usual. There were people smiling, just happy to be there. A few folks outside had tickets for sale, so if you wanted to, you could get in. Even the police seemed friendly. Well, how ’bout that?

Once inside, the place filled quickly. There was electricity in the air. You could feel it building up. The band hit the stage with “Jack Straw” to open the set. The crowd lit up with that tune and the high energy just carried on through the first set. “Deal,” “Peggy-O,” “Brown Eyed Women,” “Looks Like Rain,” “Easy Wind,” “Cumberland Blues,” and “Casey Jones” rounded it out.

Bob Weir and John Mayer were in fine guitar form and everyone in the room was picking up on that. The magic was happening. Every now and then, the music has a way of taking off and being even greater than the sum of its parts. Every member of the band was firing on all cylinders at high RPM. The interaction between each player seemed to get the crowd even more worked up and they just flowed with it. The music played the band.

I give Weir a ton of credit for picking John Mayer to play with this outfit. Mayer ain’t Jerry Garcia and I don’t think he’s trying to be. He makes the music his own, a feat that would be inhumanly possible without the passion he brings to it. His energy and enthusiasm infuses new life into the band and sends the music into new, uncharted territory. Mayer’s vocals on “Easy Wind” were refreshing and different. His go-to guitar was the Paul Reed Smith but he would occasionally break out the Travis Bean to add a different yet familiar sound.

Weir may be one of the best rhythm guitarists alive. Subtle things he constantly adds make the music what it is. His vocals are still powerful, and his delivery is always unique. From the moment he takes the stage, you know you’re in for something special. “Cumberland Blues” with Weir out front, in my opinion, was the highlight of the first set.

The second set opened with “Here Comes Sunshine” and the strong energy continued. Two chestnuts from the late 60s, “St. Stephen” segued easily into “The Eleven.” Bassist Oteil Burbridge took the vocals on “Comes A Time,” making it all his own. Drummers Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart, the notorious Rhythm Devils, playing side by side, sounded spot-on the whole night. With Burbridge, they provided a solid magic carpet the band rode on throughout the evening.

Keyboardist Jeff Chimenti is adept at blending diverse elements to create a solid sound. With Chimenti at one end of the stage and Burbridge at the other, I did a double-take and had an Allman Brothers Band flashback. Chimenti and Mayer were trading solos in various songs throughout the night and it set the place on fire.

“Going Down The Road Feeling Bad” aka “GDTRFB” was different than I’ve ever heard it before. Weir and Mayer’s fine guitar work built a great version of this tune, making it another favorite of mine. “GDTRFB” spilled into “Drums/Space” with Burbridge joining the drummers on percussion. Coming out of “Space,” the band went into “The Other One,” followed by “Stella Blue” with strong, confident vocals from Weir. The band ended the main set with “Not Fade Away” and encored with “U.S. Blues” before calling it a night.

Their world-class light show and sound production was state of the art for 2019. Dead & Company continue the tradition of providing the best concert experience possible for their audience. Tonight was a high-energy show from start to finish, one of the best ever in all the years I’ve seen them. It was an incredible selection of numbers executed by six of the best musicians in the business. To paraphrase a line from “Jack Straw,” you could say “they used to play for silver, now they play for life…”


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