Dead & Company wrapped up the final show of their 2019 Summer Tour this past Saturday at CU Boulder’s iconic Folsom Field. A venue frequented by the Grateful Dead throughout the 1970s, the Grateful Dead first touched down at the University of Colorado Boulder in the spring of 1969, and while the Dead wrapped up their final performance at Folsom in June of 1980, the spirit of the band has lived on throughout the city.
Flash forward nearly 40 years, Dead & Company has made Boulder their blissful Summer Tour close home, and the city has embraced the band with open arms. For two days each summer, Boulder turns into the land of blissful deadheads, with fans around the country gathering to celebrate one of the world’s most iconic bands.
Following a rainy one-set performance on Friday night, Weir, Mayer, Hart, Kreutzmann, Chimenti, and Burbridge took the stage to blue skies and smiling faces as they opened with a winding jam, eventually landing into a roaring 20-minute rendition of “Scarlet > Fire” with vocals lead by Oteil Burbridge on Fire. Fan favorite “Brown Eyed Women” came next, a tune that never officially found a home on a studio record, but is widely recognized from Europe ’72. Chimenti spread his wings and took the song high into the sky with some tremendous keyboard work, before diving back down to earth with a sorrowful “Loser” followed by “They Love Each Other.”
The back end of the set I featured some bluesy, soulful tunes the likes of “Bird Song” and “New Speedway Boogie” before wrapping up the set with the cover “Don’t Ease Me In.” The band left the stage to a roar from the appreciate crowd, knowing full well that while that set was more than satisfactory, the best was just beyond the horizon.
The iconic “Playing In The Band” debuted the second set, sending Boulder into a head-spun frenzy of hooting and hollering. The song first emerged, albeit in a different form than what most fans are familiar with, on the self-titled 1971 live album Grateful Dead. It has stayed a major staple in all of the Dead’s various forms and represents the true American Beauty that is the Dead. Burbridge laid the tracks into “Estimated Prophet,” a no doubt slower tempo version, but still dodging tune that slowly turned into a psychedelic jubilee of sound. Wasting no time, however, the band picked up the energy with a booming “Franklin’s Tower” with expanded jams and skillful play from all members.
Bobby took front stage for “Eyes of the World,” as the crowd sang along on a delightful night in Boulder, Colorado. It was a beautiful moment in time, one that perfectly captured the essence of the weekend, one that showed the incredible history and dedication from the band, the fans, and the music itself. Hold on to your head; however, next up came a very rhythmic “Drums > Space” equip with Kreutzmann and Hart laying down layers of ambient fills and toms which reverberated throughout the arena. After waking from the madness, Dead & Company closed out set two with “Althea,” “Days Between,” and a “Not Fade Away” reprise, leaving Boulder to bask in the glory of what they had just witnessed.
To add a touch of sugar to an already unforgettable weekend, Dead & Company treated Colorado to a three-song encore featuring Bob Weir delivering a beautiful acoustic “Ripple,” a tear-jerking “Brokedown Palace,” and finishing off the encore with another beloved “Playing in the Band.” It was the perfect end to another great Summer Tour from Dead & Company, and with the band showing no signs of slowing down, fans can now look forward to four epic nights in Cancun, Mexico – tickets to Playing in the Sand are now available for early 2020.