Philly’s love for Dead & Company will not fade away - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart

Philadelphia has always been a special stop for the Grateful Dead and other eras of the band’s legacy. In recent years, Dead & Company at Citizens Bank Park has provided exceptional chapters, between the 2021’s single set rainbow show, and last year’s epic set closing with “Franklin’s Tower” and a “Brokedown Palace” / “Casey Jones” encore. Fans were lined up on Pattison Ave as early as noon (probably even earlier) just waiting for the parking to open at 2 to set up home base and enjoy the good company of likeminded strangers, neighbors, and friends.

In addition to great shows, the Philadelphia stop is home to one of the biggest and most active Shakedown Streets on the tour. T-shirt vendors, jewelry makers, craftspeople, and food tents line up in rows among the N lot to sell their wares to the thousands of deadheads and curious minds looking for personal treasures. Vendors that have been to every show on the tour agree that Philadelphia was the best setup yet and are looking forward to the next shows at Saratoga and Citi Field.

Dead & Co. | photo by Dylan Eddinger for WXPN

The stadium was packed with colorful fans sporting their best tie dye cheering the band onto the stage promptly at 7:15 pm under golden hour light of the setting sun. The guitars tuned in, and Bob Weir took lead vocals opening the set with “Women Are Smarter,” then dropping right into fan favorite “Shakedown Street.” Everyone on the stage fed off the sold-out crowd’s energy. John Mayer expressed top-tier stank face while exploring guitar licks, while bassist Oteil Burbridge laid down swinging grooves while decorated in face paint.

Drummers Mickey Hart and Jay Lane drove the rhythm, exchanging smirks with each other and the audience. After just two songs, Dead & Co. fans who had not tuned in to any of the shows this tour could tell that is band is at the top of their game. The tempo was faster than previous tours, debunking the “Dead and Slow” myths of the past, and the group sounded better than ever on the farewell tour.

Rolling on with the first set, Mayer took vocals on “Cold Rain & Snow” and was then joined by Weir for a beautiful “Jack Straw.” Keyboardist Jeff Chimenti shone onstage with an epic solo during the bridge of “Brown Eyed Women” while locked with Mayer, leaning over the keyboard. Following that heat, the band slowed it down for a surprising first set “Dark Star” into the cowboy ballad “El Paso” for the first time on the tour. The band wrapped up the first set in synchwith the sunset with a rocking “Don’t Ease Me In.”

Dead & Co. | photo by Dylan Eddinger for WXPN

The second set came hot out the gate with Oteil taking signing “Fire On the Mountain” to the ballpark burning red from the stage lights. It was the perfect track to bring the audience back up to speed after a 40-minute set break. Mayer and Oteil played tag bouncing up and down the frets during the groovy jam while climbing to the peak of the jam. After the great opener, it was time to spend a little time on the mountain as Weir took charge with “New Speedway Boogie.”

The peak of the evening began when the band dropped right into “Eyes of the World” out of “Estimated Profit.” “Eyes of the World” has always been a fan favorite track and is being dubbed as one of the most-chased songs of the tour for some folks, with good reason. Each band member’s musicianship is expressed in perfect coordination for a truly face-melting experience. Once again, Chimenti delivered an incredible six-minute or more solo while dialed in with Mayer, exchanging laughs and head nods throughout the arrangement.  Everyone in the pit shined their love for the band by cheering, dancing, and singing along to the beautiful lyrics by Robert Hunter. Philadelphia’s “Eyes” may go down as one of the hottest on the tour, and it was a launch into orbit before turning it to Mickey, Jay Lane, and Oteil for “Drums/Space.”

Dead & Co. | photo by Dylan Eddinger for WXPN

The rest of the band returned to the stage for some of the space jam tuning and brought back the rest of “Dark Star” that was left unfinished in the first set. With the “Dark Star” complete, the crowd began to hop along to the guitar tunes of the “Cumberland Blues” where Mayer got his turn trading vocal verses with Weir for the first time in the second set. The group slowed it down with the deep cut “Standing on The Moon” where Weir sang his heart out on stage to fans sobbing fans, accompanied by Mayer going in on an epic solo at the peak of the song.

As the 11:00pm curfew was fast approaching, the stadium began to shake and echo with the crowd singing and clapping to “Not Fade Away.” Nearly every seat in the Bank was still filled with people enjoying the ride. After finishing the final song of the second set, the band walked off stage and the audience continued to clap along to the beat while shouting “No our love will not fade away” to welcome them back to the stage for the final encore performance of the evening. Weir and Mayer picked up their acoustic guitars and strummed the opening notes to “Ripple” which prompted cheers from everyone in the stadium. Down in the pit, many folks share the love holding hands, putting their arms around one another, slowly swaying and singing along to the lyrics with joy. Everyone came together as one on the final verse ”If I knew the way I would take you home, La da da da La da da da da” bringing a perfect end to Dead & Company’s legacy in Philadelphia.

Dead and Company continue their final tour up the East Coast to New York and Boston before heading out west for the final leg. They will conclude their tour with three nights at Oracle Park in San Francisco, and all shows will be available to stream via

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