The hallowed halls of Barton Hall, Cornell University, once again echoed with the timeless tunes of the Grateful Dead, as the original band members Bobby Weir and Mickey Hart, along with their Dead & Company comrades John Mayer, Oteil Burbridge, Jeff Chimenti and Jay Lane, graced the stage. The occasion was a charitable endeavor supporting MusiCares and the Cornell 30 Project, but the night was also a commemoration of the Grateful Dead’s illustrious performance at the same venue 46 years prior.
The thoughtful setlist was a nod to the 1977 and 1980 shows, with the night kicking off in the same manner as the late seventies concert. Weir took the reins on “Minglewood Blues,” setting the tone for a nostalgic yet refreshingly inventive evening. The band then smoothly transitioned into “Althea,” with Mayer masterfully leading the vocals on the Go to Heaven favorite, a song that had been on the roster when the Grateful Dead returned to Barton Hall in 1980.
The dynamism of Dead & Company was evident as they performed an enthralling version of “Estimated Prophet,” that drew inspiration from The Wailers’ “Get Up, Stand Up.” The first set was a roller coaster ride of fan favorites like “Jack Straw,” “Bertha,” and “Cassidy,” culminating in a high-energy performance of “Deal” led by Mayer’s poignant vocals.
The band returned after the break with an electrifying second set, pairing up songs like “China Cat Sunflower” with “I Know You Rider,” and “Help on the Way” with “Slipknot!” Hart’s set-break interview on Sirius XM’s Grateful Dead station hinted at the use of bird songs from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology during “Drums” and “Space,” adding an element of natural harmony to the evening.
From the cosmic void of “Space,” “Scarlet Begonias” emerged, leading into a brief teaser of “West L.A. Fadeaway” before the full delivery of “Fire on the Mountain.” The band’s rendition of “Morning Dew,” a fan favorite from the original 1977 performance, was nothing short of mesmerizing.
The evening concluded with Mayer and Weir alternating lyrics on “Terrapin Station,” a moment imbued with a deep sense of nostalgia and reverence for the band’s upstate New York history.
Eyes of the World,
China Cat Sunflower >
I Know You Rider,
Help on the Way >
Franklin’s Tower >
Scarlet Begonias >
West L.A. Fadeaway Tease >
Fire on the Mountain,
Dead & Company’s return to Barton Hall was a trip down memory lane, a perfect blend of past and present, and a testament to the timeless appeal of the Grateful Dead’s music.
Thanks to JT/NY for the recording!