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By Rhys Lett

Dead and Company, Playing in The Sand, Night 3, January 20, 2019 Review

Night 3. The last show of the weekend. Dead and Company have played this weekend in mid tour form. So this has been a thoroughly enjoyable time on the couch in Melbourne, Australia witnessing a weekend of good vibes and great playing. As close to the real thing as I’ll manage. For a recap of the night 1 and night 2 click the links. It has already been worth the price of the webcasts. Excited to see what surprises night 3 might hold.

Playing in the Sand – Dead and Company – Night 3, Set 1

Commencing in the bright daylight with Sugar Magnolia. Sweet licks by Mayer. Has an encore feel rather than opener. Really cool band interactions and accents to end the song. Crowd in complete party mode. 

Bertha as the second tune. I would have flipped and had this as the opener for the party of the last day. Maybe didn’t want Mayer opening show two nights in a row. Mickey percussion groove is busy and working nicely. Cool chord inversion from Bob happening. That camera angle on Oteil’s side still blurred!! Chimenti pushing the dynamic in verse two with some exciting Hammond swells. Mayer great blend of tasty licks with some outside scale notes. Consequently uses Garcia style decoration of the melody during the solo. Even prior to his time joining the Dead company Mayer was excellent at creating a phrase, sticking with it and moulding the lick out fully. He gets the chance to with this solo tonight. Powerful accents again by the band. Warming into this show nicely. Mickey is awake tonight. Sweet harmonies by Oteil in particular.

Pushing through the songs this set moving onto Good Lovin’. Bob’s guitar tone is so good and he takes an opening lead break. Voice fairly ragged to start tonight though. Oteil illustrating the band harmony section with sweet bass chords.

Brown Eyed Women up next. Super solo from Mayer getting the best licks of night one and two merging tonight. Bill needs something improved in his mix as his roadie rushes off to fix. Hasn’t inhibited his playing to this point, rock solid as ever. Chimenti adds some barrelhouse runs to his solo and conversation starts with Mayer. Excellent interpretation of the lyrics from Mayer. A change from the first years where you could see him relying on reading the lyrics. 

Loser from the first solo Garcia album up next. Dead and Company feel songs of this groove and tempo so very well. Unlike the pulled back tempo that affected Sugar Magnolia earlier, this maintains feel. Bob good vocally here. Touch of Big Log style tone when Mayer adds the delay pedal. Big, bold clean tone from the semi hollow PRS. My PRS doesn’t have those notes it seems. Kreutzmann with some one handed drumming as he chugs a Gatorade. Best song of night 3 so far.

Sugaree makes it a Garcia double shot. Nice playing in the intro from Kreutzmann with ghost notes on snare and hi hat work.  Mayer singing. Crowd in unison with him in the chorus. Night 3 is firing up. Quick pedal adjustment by Mayer before solo. I would think adding a longer time in his delay sound from what follows. There is one lick I am certainly stealing for the weekend gigs he played often this weekend. Every subsequent solo building from the last. Bob with some sensational rhythm work on last verse.

US Blues with Bob on vocals. Using slide on his pinky. I have to use on ring finger. Must be the pinky push-ups he must do. Raucous chorus lifts this from the plodding boogie Dead and Company can fall into at times. Once again Bob’s tone is sweet. Live slide playing can get harsh. This is rounded and studio quality. Mickey with some excellent runs that cross the chord changes. Tight reading.

Reprise of the Sugar Magnolia outro frames the set. Bob reconsiders his vocal entry just letting the tune sink in a bit harder. His vocals improved on as the set goes on. Chimenti leads the slow blues fade out to end set 1. 

Dead and Company – Playing in the Sand – Night 3, Set 2

Scarlet Begonias opens set two. All energy and funk drained from it at this speed and groove. Few too many Dead and Company songs sit in this tempo range and on opening this could have been any one of those songs. Bob voice still good for start of second set. Mayer out in a sweater for second set with a hot opening to his solo. Oteil would be better handling the high harmony in the breakdown, Mayer’s falsetto too overpowering to make harmony blend.

Chimenti and Mayer playing off each other as they move towards a good old expected Fire. Mickey continues to have a great night with some tidy Agogo work. Melodic work from Oteil. Diminished runs from Chimenti raises this great jam (finally some darker playing this weekend).

Oteil vocal again for Fire on the Mountain. Excellent to hear him get an uptempo vocal. Really enjoy the Dead and Company version of this tune. Nice mutron laced solo from Mayer. Unfortunately the webcast experiencing lots of interference during the song and had dropped out completely for a time. Who’s buying me plane tickets to get me over to a show!! Excellent signals through the band to get back to the verse.

Dark Star! Chimenti all over this. Excellent use of his array of keyboards at his disposal. Creating with microtonal sweeps of synth filters. Bob laying riffs under the guitar and piano chaos. Mayer breaks the vibe of where he was headed with one of those stock SRV runs I griped about in show two. ‘Til then he was right there with Chimenti. Kreutzmann using his toms and hi hats to paint across the landscape. Following the verse, the jam stays too rooted to home base harmonically and rhythmically. What was teased in the intro never eventuates. The drummers following Chimenti’s build wonderfully but is stepped all over by Mayer being too busy and not listening. 

Althea to follow. Another of the grooves that Dead and Co do well. Marvellous slide touches by Bob under Mayer’s sweet soloing. His playing style is made for this tune. Cool to see Mayer head to Chimenti with the “c’mon man your time to shine” smile to pass off a solo to him. Jeff calls him back in to trade fours after one round. He should have stretched. Excellent playing from both. Winding out to a swinging jam that reprises Dark Star.

The title song of the weekend Playing in the Band next. Quite astounding how comfortably they naturally hold the signature changes. Know those birds well on the PRS fretboard so know he is jamming at the 15th fret. They slide down towards Drums and Space

Taking us out of the darkness The Other One opens gently. Nice harmony lines by Mayer on the riff. Jeff loving the vibrato chorus pedal sound on his keys tonight dropped it a lot. Cool Miles Davis like run by Mayer as the intro jam ramps up. Kreutzmann working the space over. This is the best Dead and Company intro for this song have seen. Bob sounding great. Chimenti keeps its sci-fi through the mid song jam as Mayer stays in the jazz mood. Oteil works scale runs. Most out there jam of the weekend.

Standing on the Moon begins to wind the weekend gently down. Nice Garth Hudson style playing from Chimenti to support Bob’s verses. Great slide tone from Bob. Excellent version.

Just as the set seems to be at a close they launch into Casey Jones. Crowd sing along to the opening lines. Good time party version. Ragged vocal outro is as much celebration as it is relief. It’s a super effort to play six sets of music without repetition. Also to play to such a high consistent standard. In short, a tremendous weekend of performances spanning the full extent of the Dead and Company repertoire.

Dead and Company – Playing in the Sand – Night 3, Encore

The seventies sounding major seventh chords of Eyes of the World opens the encore. This may have been better placed in the set. Great mid song build with Oteil starring. Playing excellent groove lines then drops the octave. Certainly his tune tonight as he takes a ripping solo spot. Should have been more Oteil solos of this over the weekend than saved for the encore of night 3. Band enjoyed that one.

Werewolves of London to close night 3 and the weekend. Bob back on slide. Mayer nice use of the vocal melody to illustrate his solo. Straight ahead version of the song to close out night 3 and the weekend.

Night 3 show MVP was Oteil Burbridge. The quiet achiever in Dead and Company. His playing isn’t as lead line driven as Phil’s playing. Subsequently it can get lost that he is the most consistent member of the group, never playing a note wrong. Mickey really had a great night as well.

Dead and Company are keeping the spirit of the Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia strong heading into 2019. Most importantly, new generations can enjoy the music and discover a completely unique band with a deep history. Consequently I received a history lesson and musical education over the last week. It clearly influenced my playing at recent gigs. For this I am grateful. Summer (or for us Aussies winter) couch tour, here I come.

I hope you have enjoy my summaries of the weekend of shows. Please follow our Facebook page to keep in touch. I’ll be back for the summer run of shows.