Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Celebrating 50 Years of The Grateful Dead

The Grateful Dead at Soldier Field - Fare Thee Well Tour
This past July marked arguably one of the most epic spectacles in the history of live rock n’ roll.  Over the Fourth of July weekend The Grateful Dead reunited for the last three of five shows to mark their 50th anniversary in what they said are the final shows that they will be playing as a complete group on a short tour they called Fare Thee Well.  They chose Soldier Field in Chicago in Chicacgo, Illinois as the venue for these magnanimous performances because it is the last location that The Grateful Dead played with late front man Jerry Garcia before his untimely passing.   The group brought on Trey Anastasio of Phish fame as a Jerry replacement, as well as keys players Bruce Hornsby and Jeff Chimenti.  Despite the pressure of having such large shoes to fill, Trey did a great job singing lead vocals on many songs as well as switching off lead guitar with Bob Weir.  With around 70,000 people attending each night, these shows were truly for the record books.  They could not have chosen a better location.  The warm summer nights and beautiful scenery including the surrounding skyscrapers looming in the background provided the perfect aesthetic for a phenomenal  musical experience.


The Grateful Dead at Soldier Field Fare Thee Well
The Grateful Dead at Soldier Field - Fare Thee Well Tour
On Friday, July 3 fans witnessed classic songs such as “Fire on the Mountain”,” Jack Straw, ”Scarlet Begonias”, “Playing in the Band” and “Ripple” as an encore.  Saturday, the Fourth of July had an equally as impressive set list with a gigantic fireworks display to close out the show.  They played many hits including “Shakedown Street”, “Me and My Uncle”, “Friend of the Devil”, “Deal”, “Stella Blue” and of course encored with “U.S. Blues”.  The final show on July 5 had what could be called one of the greatest set lists performed by The Dead including numerous timeless classics such as “Althea”, “China Cat Sunflower”, “Estimated Prophet,” “Terrapin Station”, and “Not Fade Away”.  The show closed with a “Touch of Grey” and
Mickey Hart and Bill Kruetzmann during Drums/Space
Mickey Hart and Bill Kruetzmann during Drums/Space
“Attics of My Life” encore. 

The Grateful Dead at Soldier Field - Fare Thee Well Tour

During “Not Fade Away” a slideshow of photos from the bands history played on the Jumbotron screens, invoking an emotional response for the thousands of Deadheads watching and hundreds of thousands of fans watching the simulcast from home.  Each night they played their improvisational signature “Drums” into “Space”, which was a highly psychedelic journey each time.


Chicago Aerial Photo at Night July 5, 2015



Grateful Dead fans flood the streets after the show
Grateful Dead fans flood the streets after the show
Each night once the shows let out, all 70,000 people plus the thousands of others who were not lucky enough to make it inside flooded the streets of Chicago to head to the dozens of after parties at numerous venues around the city.  As if the Soldier Field shows weren’t enough, fans were able to catch a variety of different bands late night from the likes of Moe., Darkstar Orchestra, Rebirth Brass Band, Leftover Salmon, Particle, Railroad Earth, Matisyahu, and many more.  There were also collaborations and jams with numerous other musicians including the ‘Dead on the Water’ which was an afterparty on a yacht with musicians Leo Nocentelli, Bernie Worrell, Oteil Burbridge, and Allen Aucoin.


The Grateful Dead at Soldier Field Fare Thee Well
The Grateful Dead at Soldier Field - Fare Thee Well Tour



Of the countless fans across the country who tried to get tickets to Fare Thee Well, the majority were unable to get tickets to this event.  Tickets were in such high demand that they were being scalped for thousands of dollars before the shows.    Those who were fortunate enough to make it will remember this weekend of sheer love and magic for the rest of their lives.  Every aspect of the shows went off without a hitch, from the visuals, stage production, and music to the infrastructure and safety of the fans.  Between the music, the vibes, the fans, and the city of Chicago, Fare Thee Well was one of the greatest runs that any band has put together.
Phil Lesh and Bob Weir performing during Fare Thee Well
Phil Lesh and Bob Weir performing during Fare Thee Well

Fireworks during Fare Thee Well on July 4, 2015
The Grateful Dead at Soldier Field - Fare Thee Well Tour
The Grateful Dead at Soldier Field - Fare Thee Well Tour

The Grateful Dead at Soldier Field - Fare Thee Well Tour
The Jumbotron during Fare Thee Well at Soldier Field
The Grateful Dead at Soldier Field - Fare Thee Well Tour
 
The Grateful Dead at Soldier Field - Fare Thee Well Tour

The Grateful Dead at Soldier Field Fare Thee Well
The Grateful Dead at Soldier Field - Fare Thee Well Tour


Check out the full gallery at Performance Impressions photography archives:

The Grateful Dead at Soldier Field Fare Thee Well Tour

4 comments:

jef926 said...

This not the Grateful Dead. they played their last show in 1995.

Mike hopson said...

Sorry you didnt make it to the shows. What a blast

Butchie said...

Great article!! Esp love the overhead shots!!

Out Rebound said...

This place was very comfortable. Restrooms were decent. Coming here with my friends was an amazing experience. This is my favorite event space NYC now, because of its excellent food, perfect lighting, vibrant atmosphere and great ventilation.

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