The Grateful Dead - "Fare Thee Well" - Night One

Chicago, IL - 3 July 2015

by Rockin' Randi Starrett

Set One - Box of Rain, Jack Straw, Bertha, Passenger, The Wheel>Crazy Fingers>The Music Never Stopped

Set Two - Mason's Children, Scarlet Begonias, Fire on the Mountain, Drums, Space, New Potato Caboose, Playing in the Band, Let it Grow, Help on the Way, Slip Knot, Franklin's Tower

Encore - Ripple

The first night of The Grateful Dead's three night Fare Thee Well run in Chicago summed up in two words: "Ripple encore." The end. Seriously, if you were there, you felt the collective shiver as the crowd erupted when those first notes were heard. If you weren't, I hope at least you were watching one of the many streams (several options, Google "stream Grateful Dead Fare Thee Well shows"). Using only one word: supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! From the opening notes of "Box of Rain" (if you called that one, raise your hand, all none of you can have my seat tonight) through "Jack Straw" before "Bertha" went into "Passenger", all approximately 70,000 fans in Soldier Field were enraptured. Musically the band was tight and seamless. The soundcheck shows in Santa Clara last weekend did the trick (even Shapiro was quoted calling the two added pre-shows to this final Fare The Well tour by that moniker.) The music never stopped, at least for set one until the original four, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart, joined by Trey Anastasio, Bruce Hornsby, and Jeff Chimenti, instinctively jammed through "The Wheel" into "Crazy Fingers" into that afore mentioned song. If set one joyously seemed to blow by (where did the time go) set two really opened up the jams.

After the loss of band leader and lead guitarist Jerry Garcia. almost twenty years ago, the other original members have played in various configurations. Much debate ensued when it was announced that Phish's front man was chosen to fill the empty Birkenstocks. Naysayers should now be permanently silenced.

Although some seats may have had better sightlines, every seat inside the stadium was a great seat. The demand is greater than tickets available and fans are seeking miracles.

I just know, in my heart of hearts, Jerry was one of the angels sitting on the gorgeous waning gibbous moon that majestically rose over the stadium, with one of his biggest fans, photographer George Weiss right by his side. Thank you for assuring us, from the first notes of this first of the final shows, that love will see us through. You are deeply missed. And Phil, that was me you waved back at while your silver transport van was stopped across from the Field Museum on your way leaving the show. Thank you security for letting me step up to the window. And thank you Phil and the whole band. You said y'all never imagined the response you would get for these shows. We all know it's not just the shows, it's the best Fourth of July family reunion ever. But next time we all need to wear nametags affixed with pictures of what we looked like 20 plus years ago (you too Shapiro, we want to applaud the youngster who had this vision. )

And three more words: two more nights!