Dead and Company played at the Darien Lake Performing Arts Center in Darien Lake, New York, on Wednesday night, and midway through the second set they honored Charlie Watts by performing the 1965 Rolling Stones classic “The Last Time.”
This was the first time Dead and Company played the tune, but the Grateful Dead did it 69 times between 1990 and 1995. The only other Rolling Stones song in the Grateful’s Dead live repertoire was “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” although they did play the “Little Red Rooster” B-side “Off the Hook” at a 1965 show when they were still billed as the Warlocks. Dead and Company hadn’t covered a single Stones song until this point.
The rest of the Dead and Company gig at Darien Lake was devoted to standards like “Friend of the Devil,” “New Speedway Boogie,” “Playing in the Band,” and “Uncle Johns’s Band.” They wrapped up the night with a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.” The tour resumes Friday night in Saratoga Springs, New York, and finishes in late October with a three-night stand at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.
Their performance of “The Last Time” is a small portion of the outpouring of love for Watts that has emerged since the shocking news of his death came earlier this week. “Charlie Watts wept at Keith Moon’s funeral,” Pete Townshend wrote in a tribute. “I wish I was capable of such tears today. Instead, I just want to say goodbye. Not a rock drummer, a jazz drummer really, and that’s why the Stones swung like the Basie band!! Such a lovely man. God bless his wife and daughter, and I’ll bet the horses will miss him too.”
The Stones haven’t played a single show without Watts since he joined the band in January 1963. But they’re starting an American tour on September 26th in St. Louis with longtime band associate Steve Jordan behind the kit. It’s sure to be a very emotional night.