By Matt Brookman
They Were Dancin’ In New York City
June 21st – Next stop on the Final Tour was New York and Citi Field. NY shows have always had a special electric energy. NY has always felt like a second home for the Grateful Dead and the various incarnations of the band have always shined in the New York area playing some of the bands most legendary shows. Citi Field has been the site of some classic Dead & Company shows and tonight would set the tone for a two night right in the home of the New York Mets. For those who were away, It was also a very special night as it was the Summer Solstice. Summer time was now officially here although the weather felt like spring.
The forecast was calling for possible rain and the wind was howling through the stadium. The band took to the stage and came out of the gate with an appropriate NY opener “Shakedown Street”. Some legendary “Shakedown’s” have been played in NY over the years, see 9/18/87 MSG. Another well jammed “Shakedown” set the tone for a high energy and well played first set. The band went right into a powerful “Bertha” which was the first of the weather themed first set songs. Thankfully we didn’t run into a rain storm, but we felt the thunder of Mickey and Jay’s driving drums. John and Jay took the jams to huge highs and the NY crowd was along for the ride. Next to follow was “Ramble On Rose” which as usual saw a strong reaction from the NY crowd, “Just like New York city, just like Jericho”.
“It Hurts Me Too” followed, the Tampa Red cover was a Pigpen staple from 1966 to 1972. John has truly made this song his own and tonight’s version was an absolute standout. A nod to the Summer Solstice would follow with the Martha and The Vandellas cover “Dancing In The Streets”. Summer was here and the time was right to be Dancing In The Streets. Another nod to the NY faithful as they were definitely dancing in New York city. A funked out “Dancing” would lead us into the thunderous “Althea”. Similar to tonight’s “Bertha”, this “Althea” truly soared. The band closed the set with “Let It Grow”. An ode to the Summer Solstice as the seasons were changing. This was a big set ender as the band took the jams to new places. A perfect ending to an incredibly played first set.
Before the start of the second set John would take to social media notifying the fans that he threw his back out and might be sitting during the set. The second set started off with a hot “China Cat Sunflower>I Know You Rider” continuing the fine form of the first set. A seated John Mayer didn’t hinder him from playing scorching leads and driving the NY crowd into a frenzy. The NY crowd was then treated to an incredibly powerful and stretched out version of “St. Stephen”. The jams built and built finally hinting towards “The Eleven”. “The Eleven” didn’t come but they instead segued into “Uncle John’s Band”. “Uncle John’s Band” took us into “Drums” where we were treated to a special guest drummer Joe Russo who added to the powerful segment joining Mickey and Jay. The drums have been a standout all tour and this one was no different. Kudos to the bands production as the visuals have truly complimented this segment each night of the tour.
The drummers left the stage after Mickey lead the crowd in a call and response for a thunderous finish. Jeff, John, Bobby and Oteil would return to the stage for “Space” teasing us with notes of “The Eleven”. The drummers returned and we were finally treated to a massive version of “The Eleven”. After really heating the crowd up the band slowed things down with a very powerful “Stella Blue”. Bobby has really embraced this song and it was a perfect fit as the wind really starting to howl. The set finally closed with a very high energy version of “US Blues” with the crowd all singing along in unison. Summer was officially here!
As the curfew approached the band decided to cool down the NY crowd after a rocking “US Blues” with an incredibly soulful rendition of “Black Muddy River”. No official encore as the band left the stage.
Rare song of the night: “Dancing In The Streets.” The Martha and The Vandellas cover played for the second time of this tour, but has always been a rare treat for this band. A standard for the band from the 1960’s through the 1970’s, becoming a rare treat in the 80’s. It was last played by the Grateful Dead in the NY Metropolitan area at Brendan Byrne Arena in East Rutherford, NJ on April 6, 1987.
Other must listen to moments: “Bertha”, “It Hurts Me Too”, “Let It Grow” “St. Stephen” “The Eleven” “Stella Blue” and “US Blues”.
Back at it again tonight for night 2 at Citi Fields. It Feels like a Stranger
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