By Matt Brookman
Looks Like Rain in Cincinnati
June 13th – The latest stop on Dead & Company’s Final Tour took us to Cincinnati’s Riverbend Music Center. Set alongside the Ohio River, Riverbend has been a frequent haunt of tour’s past, and was the location of a special Grateful Dead show in ’85 that featured a sought-after “Cryptical Envelopment,” a song which was broken out that year after a 13-year hiatus.
Tuesday’s show was one of the more intimate venues we’ll see this tour, and the rainy start helped set the vibe, and setlist, for the electrifying night to come. The band opened with “Music Never Stopped” taking note of their location “There’s mosquitoes on the river.” Music would then lead to the first breakout of the night “Next Time You See Me”. The Junior Brown cover was brought back out by Dead & Company in 2016 and John always gives it a proper workout. This version would be no different and was one of the high points of the first set.
“Me & My Uncle” and “Row Jimmy” followed, leading to “Dear Mr. Fantasy>Hey Jude” which would let John let loose as well as some powerful organ playing from Jeff Chimenti. The combo which was broken out by Dead & Company last summer has become a welcome return addition to the Dead & Company setlist. Another ode to their location along the river would follow with Bobby leading the band through “Cassidy”. “Iko Iko” would close the set on a high energy note leading to what was to come in the second set.
The band opened the second set with a beautiful and jammed out “Here Come Sunshine”. This would set the tone for a set filled with high energy jams. “Viola Lee Blues” would follow and delivered some of the biggest jams of the night. They took Viola Lee to a funky place including a smoking “Cissy Strut Jam” with Jeff driving the organ part and Jay and Oteil locking down the rhythm. After such a high energy start to the set it felt like an appropriate time for a ballad to cool off the Cincinnati faithful.
We got our second tour debut of the evening with Bobby taking lead vocals for a powerful version of “Looks Like Rain”. In past Grateful Dead days “Looks Like Rain” would often find itself played after a “China>Rider”, but tonight it would go in reverse. “China Cat Sunflower” followed “Looks Like Rain” leading into a hot “I Know You Rider”. The drumming duo then lead the band into an ethereal segment before taking “Drums” to a driving place.
“Space” would follow, leading into a stellar “The Wheel” “Wharf Rat” couplet. Bobby has continued to make this Garcia/Hunter ballad his own with Mayer playing soaring leads. We were then treated to a roaring “Casey Jones” to close out the set.
The encore was “Touch of Grey” as a final farewell to this Cincinnati crowd.
Rare song of the night: “Next Time You See Me.” The Junior Parker song which was played around 70 times during the Pigpen era was resurrected by Dead & Company in 2016, This was the first performance on the Farewell Tour and hopefully not the last.
Other must listen to moments: “Here Comes Sunshine”, “Viola Lee Blues”, “Looks Like Rain” “China Cat Sunflower>I Know You Rider”
Next stop is Philadelphia where those Philly Filly’s sure know what to do.
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