Reviewing The Grateful Dead’s ‘Fare Thee Well’

The surviving members of The Grateful Dead launched the band’s Fare Thee Well shows with two weekend concerts in Santa Clara, Calif.  As you can guess, opinions abound.  More after the jump.

Photo: Jay Blakesberg/Invision for the Grateful Dead/AP Images
Trey Anastasio, from left, Phil Lesh, Bob Weir perform at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.

One of the year’s top concert highlights has to be The Grateful Dead’s series of gigs celebrating the band’s 50th anniversary.  Originally set for July 3-5 at Chicago’s Soldiers Field, two more dates were added – June 27-28 – at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.  Along with Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh and Bob Weir, the concerts feature Phish’s Trey Anastasio filling in for the late, great Jerry Garcia plus Grateful Dead/Further keyboardist Jeff Chimenti, and Bruce Hornsby, who has played more than 100 shows with The Dead, on piano.  Collectively, the five concerts may be the last performances under the “Grateful Dead” banner.

So how did those weekend shows go?  Here are a few reviews to help you paint that mental picture.

The Los Angeles Times / Randall Roberts – “So expertly imagined as to suggest not just a reunion but a continuation, this was the Dead ideal, communal, filled with a generosity of spirit that united stage and seats.”

Photo: Tony Avelar/AP Images for FTD
Fans were greeted with over 50,000 beautiful red roses and a special commemorative tag from FTD and Madison House Presents.

Relix – “As the atmospheric jam dissolved into ‘The Other One,’ Weir handled lead vocals with vigor and Anastasio once again shined on the jam, playing inspired lead guitar much like he did on the closing ‘Morning Dew,’ which brought the set to an anthemic and passionate close.”

SFGate / San Francisco Chronicle / Joel Selvin – “In his inevitable shorts and Birkenstocks, bushy-bearded Bob Weir acted the dotty tribal elder, prancing around aimlessly, but stoking the chugging sound on guitar and turning in some nice notes on vocals.”

Photo: Jay Blakesberg/Invision for the Grateful Dead/AP Images
The Grateful Dead ‘Fare Thee Well’ concert at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.

Glide Magazine / Brennan Lagasse – “Last night was far from ‘perfect,’ but waves of brilliance were felt, and when the band came together in unison, there was an undeniable magic”

San Jose Mercury News / Michael Mayer – “There was no shortage of adulation from the crowd, which featured even a wider range of ages than usual. What could have been more an exercise in nostalgia and closure than a milestone musical achievement was lifted on this night by a stellar setlist, if not sure-fire playing.”