By Isaac Feiner
Dead & Company rolled its second leg of the 2017 tour into Philips Arena, completing their two-performance year in Atlanta after performing at Lakewood Amphitheater in June. One thing is for sure, the music of the Dead has not been this alive for nearly 25 years.
The band opened with the long jam intro “Truckin’,” bringing to light a first set for the ages. A beautiful “Dire Wolf” pleased the entire crowd, with John Mayer taking his first lead vocals of the night. After this, the set seemed to have a rolling-the-dice theme, as they played “Loser” followed by a “Cassidy” into “Birdsong” that hushed the early-arriving Atlanta crowd, before erupting into a “Deal” that had one of the greatest jams I have ever seen, completing the first set; one where you just felt lucky to have experienced it.
Speaking with other audience members at intermission reflected empirically that Mayer was playing the best anyone had ever heard him in his time with the band.
The second set opened with a true crowd favorite “Help on the Way” to “Slipknot” to “Franklin’s Tower.” The fast pace was slowed down by a “Viola Lee Blues” as the band transitioned to “Drums” and a Mickey Hart classically trippy “Space.” The shockingly strong-voiced Bob Weir led a strong “Throwin’ Stones,” and the band finished up the second set with one of the most rocking U.S. Blues that could possibly be played in the winter months; it felt like summer in Philips Arena.
The encore “Brokedown Palace” broke the audience into a touching, emotional finish to such an incredible set. By far, this was the best I have heard Dead & Company since the beginning in 2015, and it is touching to see how many generations can now enjoy this timeless music.