Under a sky lit by a "Buck" Supermoon and the shimmer of dancing drones, Dead and Company wrapped up their final tour performance at Folsom Field in Boulder. A beloved stop on their summer tours since 2016, Boulder, a Deadhead haven for almost six decades, witnessed an unforgettable show.
As the band gears up for their last five performances, ending in a grand finale at Oracle Park, San Francisco, the Boulder performance was a love letter, both from the band to the city and from the devoted Colorado Deadheads to their cherished musical icons.
Within the scenic embrace of Folsom Field, one of the country's most picturesque football stadiums, a perfect backdrop of the majestic Flatirons set the stage for the unfolding musical spectacle. The event's singularity was marked by a third night added to their final tour in Boulder and San Francisco, underscoring the band's deep connection with these locations.
As anticipation soared, the venue buzzed with an eclectic mix of fans. From infants rhythmically swaying in their parents' arms to septuagenarians boogying down with uninhibited joy, the crowd spanned all ages, a testament to the timeless appeal of the Grateful Dead.
The evening kicked off with the foot-tapping beats of Bertha, led by John Mayer's exuberant vocals. The show rolled along, accompanied by collective singalongs to New Speedway Boogie, Cold Rain, and Snow. Jack Straw, an emblematic Weir/Hunter creation, was a beautiful counterpoint to the band's perceived slow tempo, while Althea, a Mayer favorite, was taken to dizzying new heights.
Weather concerns briefly interrupted Playing in the Band, but the unyielding crowd remained glued to their seats. In a deja vu moment reminiscent of 2019, the band, upon returning, continued right where they left off. The musical journey meandered through beloved classics such as Uncle John's Band, Help On The Way, Slipknot, and Franklin's Tower, with the crowd riding along in euphoria.
As the evening unfolded, the audience was treated to an emotionally-charged rendition of He’s Gone, a poignant homage to the departed Grateful Dead members. However, it was during the classic Drums and Space section that an unexpected spectacle unfolded.
Replacing the traditional 4th of July fireworks, a stunning drone display lit up the night sky. Emergent from behind the stage, hundreds of twinkling blue lights swirled into formation, transforming into some of the most iconic Grateful Dead imagery. From the iconic Steal Your Face logo to a Dancing Bear pirouetting above the stage, the drones painted a celestial canvas that left the audience awestruck. Even the staunchest skeptics couldn't resist the ethereal charm of this innovative presentation.
Following the cosmic journey of "Space," Dead and Company regrounded us all with an emotive rendition of the Hunter/Garcia classic, "Standing On The Moon." As Bob Weir's raw, tender vocals cut through the cooling Boulder night, it seemed as though the song was specially written for this moment, under the light of the Buck Moon. Every word, every strum, was a call echoing into the lunar expanse, seemingly suspending the crowd between the celestial and terrestrial.
Weir, the ever-resonant raconteur, stood at the epicenter of this celestial connection. His weathered voice, laden with years of shared stories and the weight of this poignant farewell, breathed life into the lyrics, carving them into the heart of each listener. His eyes, reflecting the glow of the Buck Moon, were both a testament to the band's longevity and a mirror to the crowd's shared nostalgia.
There was a heartrending synchronicity between the beauty of the full moon—coincidentally a 'Buck' Moon—hovering above, and the hauntingly beautiful verses of "Standing On The Moon." It was an uncanny alignment that tugged at the heartstrings of every Deadhead present, their emotions intertwined with the strains of Garcia's soulful melody. The potent combination left a profound impact, underscoring the bittersweet nature of this finale—a tribute to past, present, and future under the vast, unchanging expanse of the moonlit sky. As the song concluded, a solemn hush fell over Folsom Field, the poignant echoes of Weir's voice serving as a heartfelt testament to the end of an era.
The concert reached a fevered crescendo when Dave Matthews leaped onto the stage, his dynamic rendition of Bob Dylan's All Along The Watchtower turning the voltage up to electrifying heights (sprinkled with a dash of Zeppelin for good measure). His magnetic presence persisted into the subsequent performance of Not Fade Away, a Buddy Holly standard, culminating in a thunderous chorus of 40,000 voices, united in echoing the band's undying devotion to their music.
The encore pulled at the heartstrings, with a soul-stirring rendition of Bob Dylan's Knockin' On Heaven’s Door. The powerful lyrics stirred a collective introspection, touching upon the universal truth of mortality. As a final shared melody, The Band’s The Weight resounded through Folsom Field. A communal singalong under the Buck Moon, it was the perfect closing act to a night destined to be carved into the bedrock of Dead and Company's rich history.
As the audience dispersed under the full Supermoon, they took with them the indelible memory of a mesmerizing drone ballet, the enchantment of a dreamy night sky, and the lasting magic of the Grateful Dead's music. The love, indeed, will never fade away.