After two warm-up shows in the Bay Area, the Dead — with Trey Anastasio filling in for the late Jerry Garcia — kicked off their Soldier Field stand with a tremendous set comprising classics (“Box of Rain,” “Jack Straw,” “Bertha”) and curveballs (“Mason’s Children,” “New Potato Caboose”).
Night two, however, found the Dead traversing their thinner Eighties and Nineties catalog and, per Rolling Stone‘s Will Hermes, the chemistry of night one was notably absent. Everything fell into place, though, for the Dead’s final show, with highlights like “Truckin,'” “Estimated Prophet,” “Built to Last” and closer “Attics of My Life” creating a sense of bittersweet culmination.
“As good as the music was, much of the night’s magic was in the connections,” Hermes wrote of the final show. “Meeting fellow fans, finding out where they travelled from, a bit of what their lives are like, how long ago they saw their first Dead show; or showering ushers and security staff with grins, salutations and high-fives, like a bunch of tipsy, T-shirted Jehovah’s Witnesses working a neighborhood.”
While the three gigs are now available to stream online, they will also be collected and released in a number of audio-visual formats, including a massive 12-CD, seven-DVD or Blu-ray box set, Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Years of the Grateful Dead on November 20th. On September 18th, the Grateful Dead will also release their largest set of shows ever: Thirty Trips Around the Sun, a 50th anniversary collection comprising 80 CDs with 30 complete, previously unissued live recordings, one from each year of the Dead’s touring life.