Yes! Live music is here again. This marks my first concert since Patti Smith at the Fillmore in March of 2020.
Earlier this week I was having breakfast with my wife, and she was reading the newspaper and asked me, “Did you know that Bob Weir is playing this weekend in Berkeley? Says tickets are $75.” I said I wasn’t aware and asked if she wanted to go with me, and she said yes, so I promptly went online and ordered two tickets to pick up at will call. Being a long-time Grateful Dead fan, it seemed appropriate that this would be my first post-pandemic concert. And I was particularly excited to go to the Greek Theatre. This is one of those legendary concert venues, so that just made the event all the more special.
When I ordered the tickets, I was notified about Covid restrictions. All concert attendees must present either proof of vaccination or a recent negative Covid test. I had been procrastinating getting my official “Covid Passport” through the State of California, even though I am vaccinated. So I got that, and had a picture of my vaccine card on my phone, just in case.
Berkeley is a good hour’s drive for us, so we left early, since it was a general admission show, we had to deal with will call, and we wanted to grab some dinner before the concert. We got there and there were lines of Deadheads extending from both the north and south gates, two hours before show time. I wasn’t really worried, though. We went and got the tickets easily enough, then walked about a half a mile to a Mexican restaurant called Celia’s. The service was quick and the food was good. My wife and I both had combo fajitas.
After dinner, we went and got in line. Gates were open at this time, and entry was seamless. We did have to show our vaccine record, but that was easy and in no time, we were in the Greek. I have to say, just the stage itself was impressive.
The show started at just a few minutes past 7:00, and they opened with “Not Fade Away,” a Crickets’ cover which was a standard Dead song but I had never seen it played as an opener. The band sounded really good, and we particularly liked the horn and string ensemble that was supporting them.
About halfway through the first set, Bobby announced that a guest would be joining them for a song, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott. For those of you who are not familiar, Ramblin’ Jack is an American country/folk icon. At 89, it is amazing that he was able to join the band on stage. They performed a cool version of “Mule Skinner Blues,” which I really enjoyed.
While the rest of the first set was solid, I have the say that the second set was amazing. It was like Bobby was playing to the fans, connected on a spiritual level, and each song seemed to have some poignant meaning. The lights were amazing, and we were on our feet dancing almost the entire show.
If I had to pick a high point, I would have to go with “Standing on the Moon.” I love that song, and they did it so beautifully, I felt truly moved.
The show concluded with “Ripple” as an encore, segueing into a reprise of “Not Fade Away,” bringing the musical experience full circle.
Again, I cannot emphasize enough how much I have missed going to live music performances. I’m glad they are back.
Here is the full setlist from the show. Stay safe, and rock on!
- Not Fade Away >
- She Says
- Friend of the Devil
- Black-Throated Wind
- Tennessee Jed
- Mule Skinner Blues (with Ramblin’ Jack Elliott)
- Weather Report Suite >
- Let It Grow
Set 2 :
- You Win Again >
- Scarlet Begonias >
- Playing in the Band (with ‘So What’ by Miles Davis snippet) >
- Uncle John’s Band >
- Playing in the Band (reprise) >
- Estimated Prophet >
- The Other One (with ‘So What’ by Miles Davis snippet)
- Standing on the Moon
- One More Saturday Night
- Ripple >
- Not Fade Away (reprise)