Grateful Dead Bows Out In Chicago With “Fare Thee Well” Performances

 bassist Phil LeshGrateful Dead Bows Out In Chicago With “Fare Thee Well” Performances

Phil Lesh thanks fans, encourages them to think about organ donation

By David Sands
July 6, 2015

The Grateful Dead’s devotees have probably never been as grateful as they were this past weekend, when tens of thousands trekked out to the Windy City to bid a last adieu to the band they love.

Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears, served as the fan’s meeting ground, as the legendary jam band reunited for a triplet of shows billed as their final concerts ever. The performances served as both a celebration of the group’s 50th anniversary and a commemoration of their last show with singer and lead guitarist Jerry Garcia, who died in 1995.

The Grateful Dead, formed in San Francisco in the mid 1960s, is famous for its legendary fan base and an improvisation-heavy sound that blends country, jazz, folk, blues and psychedelic rock.

As with the other two “Fare Thee Well” shows, held the previous weekend in Santa Clara, Calif., the Chicago performances brought together the surviving core of the band–bassist Phil Lesh, rhythm guitarist Bob Weir and percussionists Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann–for one last hurrah on stage. Their presence was complemented by Phish’s Trey Anastasio, who covered vocals and lead guitar, RatDog’s Jeff Chimenti on keyboards and Bruce Hornsby on piano.

The Chicago concerts drew enormous crowds to Soldier Field, a record-breaking 71,000 people on Sunday and similar numbers the two previous days, according to the Associated Press.

In addition to this, many fans who weren’t able to attend still managed to catch performances online and via live viewing parties at various venues around the country.

“I never could have imagined in my wildest dreams what a long strange trip this would be,” Lesh told concert-goers that weekend in a remark cited by CNN. “God bless Terrapin Nation!”

Sunday’s finale launched with the song “China Cat Sunflower,” kicking off more than three hours of the group’s distinctive jams. (See set list, below) Singing alternated throughout the night between Lesh, Weir and Anastasio, a fact that was humorously illustrated by Weir, who returned to the stage at one point wearing a “Let Trey Sing” t-shirt.

“Mountains of the Moon,” a song they haven’t played live in concert since 1960, was offered as a special treat for fans during the first set.

The band rang in the second set with “Truckin’,” one of their most popular songs and wound it down with a cover of Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away.”

The musicians didn’t do a whole lot of talking during the show, but Lesh did take a moment to thank fans and testify to the significance of organ donation; a liver transplant helped save the beloved bassist’s life in 1998.

The Dead wrapped up the evening with two encores, first “Touch of Grey” and then a rendition of “Attics of My Life,” sung by Lesh.

Afterwards, Hart concluded the evening with some warm words for fans.

“This feeling you have here. Take it home and do something good with this,” he said. “I leave you with this: Be kind.”

Set One:
“China Cat Sunflower”
“I Know You Rider”
“Estimated Prophet”
“Built to Last”
“Samson & Delilah”
“Mountains of the Moon”
“Throwing Stones”

Set Two:
“Truckin’”
“Cassidy”
“Althea”
“Terrapin Station”
“Drums”
“Space”
“Unbroken Chain”
“Days Between”
“Not Fade Away”

Encore: “Touch of Grey”
Encore 2: “Attics of My Life”

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1 Comment


  • There’s no way that Mountains of the Moon was last played live in 1960. The Grateful Dead didn’t exist in 1960 and the song wasn’t written until 1968.
    Attics Of My Life was sung by all the singers. Anyone who knows this song knows that the harmonies are a key feature.
    Not to nitpick, but it’s nice when these kinds of articles are written by someone who knows something about the band and songs being discussed and actually watched, or at least listened to, the show being reviewed.

    Reply

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