Dead & Company Dusts Off ‘Big River’ & ‘Johnny B. Goode’ In St. Louis

Dead & Company played the St. Louis area for the first time in nearly six years on Monday. The setlist for the sextet’s concert at the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in Maryland Heights, Missouri featured a pair of geographically appropriate tour debuts in “Big River” and “Johnny B. Goode.”

Guitarists Bob Weir and John Mayer, keyboardist Jeff Chimenti, bassist Oteil Burbridge and drummers Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann kicked off last night’s show with a rousing “Iko Iko.” Mayer then led the group through “Cold Rain And Snow” before sharing vocal duties with Burbridge on a gorgeous “Ship Of Fools.” The evening’s first tour debut followed as Johnny Cash’s “Big River” was played at the venue on the banks of the mighty Mississippi River.

From there, John Mayer filled the blues standard “It Hurts Me Too” with one potent bluesy lick after another. Next, Weir growled the lyrics to “Black Throated Wind” and teamed with Mayer to sing a nicely extended “Jack Straw.” Then, “U.S. Blues” closed the first set.

Dead & Company paired “Bertha” and “Good Lovin’” to get last night’s second set underway. Oteil then had another turn in the spotlight to belt out “China Doll.” The Hunter/Garcia ballad featured a dreamy guitar solo from John Mayer before Burbridge sang the end of the song. Monday’s improvisational highlight followed in the form of a 30-minute “Shakedown Street”/”Terrapin Station” sequence. John put an envelope filter effect to good use throughout the former while Oteil propelled the groove with a funky bass line and Jeff worked over his Clavinet and Fender Rhodes. “Terrapin Station” emerged out of the “Shakedown” jam and as usual Mayer sang the “Lady With A Fan” section and Weir was on lead vocals for the main section starting with the “Inspiration” lyric.

The powerful “Terrapin Station” gave way to “Drums.” Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart provided concertgoers with a wild rhythmic excursion as they made good use of nearly every part of their rig. Oteil emerged to augment the pair as they pounded out pulsating beats. Eventually, Hart moved over to the Beam and strummed droning chords to lay the groundwork for “Space.” The instrumentalists returned and delivered an adventurous improv. Kreutzmann and Hart came back for a particularly cool jam that bled into an emotion-laden “Wharf Rat.”

Dead & Company followed the stellar “Wharf Rat” with a romp through “Sugar Magnolia.” While the band didn’t actually leave the stage for the “encore” due to time constraints, they capped the show with their first version of St. Louis-native Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” since July 11, 2018. Next up for the group is a show on Wednesday night in Noblesville, Indiana. Livestreams are available via Livedead.co.

Setlist (via Dead & Company Instagram)

Set One: Iko Iko, Cold Rain & Snow, Ship Of Fools, Big River, It Hurts Me Too, Black Throated Wind, Jack Straw, U.S. Blues

Set Two: Bertha > Good Lovin’, China Doll, Shakedown Street > Lady With A Fan > Terrapin Station > Drums/Space > Wharf Rat > Sugar Magnolia

Encore: Johnny B. Goode