“The parking lot scene was fuego,” said Alex Cannell, an eighteen year old who attended Dead and Company’s opening concert. This has seldom been heard since the passing of Jerry Garcia, but the new reincarnation of Grateful Dead, Dead and Company, with John Mayer as its frontman has fans singing praises, and gobbling up tickets.
After the remaining band members Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, and Bill Kreutzmann teamed up with Phish frontman Trey Anastasio this summer to perform the Fare Thee Well Tour, band members decided to have yet another tour. This new version of the Dead has guitarist John Mayer and is without Phil Lesh, instead performing with Grammy-winning bassist Oteil Burbridge.
The Dead and Company are selling out arenas as they close out the Grateful Dead’s 50th anniversary performing 22 shows, the tour ends December 31 in Los Angeles. While Jerry Garcia is certainly irreplaceable, John Mayer has proven to be formidable in his new role.
Fans and critics alike have noticed this new reincarnation of the Dead appears to more well rehearsed, something not usually associated with Grateful Dead and its subsequent spinoffs.
Mayer was introduced to the Grateful Dead rather late in 2011, but now the band is the only music on his iPhone. In preparation for the tour he’s been, “going pretty deep. I’ve been going for a while and it has been such a joy to go back to playing guitar for 4 to 5 hours a day. It’s been 15 years since the last time I sat in the room and just tried to get better at playing. It’s what I’ve called Grateful Dead University,” Mayer said to Billboard.
The Dead & Co. are certainly not a replication of the original band, having different transitions between songs. “It’s my belief that the guitarists who chose to interpret Garcia’s influence, rather than mimicking him, have had the greatest success. Based on what’s happened on the Dead & Co. tour so far, Mayer fits firmly within that first group,” wrote Jeff Miers for the Buffalo News.
The Daily Caller publisher Neil Patel caught the November 6 Dead & Company show at the Verizon Center and thought, “they are better off without Phil. He used to be my favorite, but the post-Jerry sings too much Phil was ruining the band.”
Phil Lesh hadn’t been planning to do the fall tour, having only signed on for the Fare Thee Well shows, he told The New York Times, “It was just understood. They were all ready before we even started rehearsals, talking about going out themselves. I’m just not into touring, and those guys are.”
According to information provided by Stubhub, Lesh has been missing out on a big pay day. The Dead and Company were StubHub’s 8th highest selling band/artist in October and are currently the second highest selling band/artist in November, behind only The Weeknd.
The average ticket price for a Dead and Company show on StubHub is around $108. Dead & Company sold out their November 5 concert at the Wells Fargo Center, earning an estimated $2,106,000.
The Fare Thee Well tour made the band over $50 million from just five shows.