It was a long, strange trip for thousands of fans at PNC Music Pavilion on Friday night.
For four hours, this sea of Dead Heads at the pavilion time-traveled back to the 1970s, save for the phone screens capturing the moment.
But for many fans it probably went by way too fast.
The majority of concertgoers were on their feet for both sets — quite a feat for a show that lasted from 7 to 11 p.m. Fans wore tie-dye of every color, often from head-to-toe, and donned skull shirts from various concerts over the decades as original Grateful Dead members Bob Weir, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann joined singer/guitarist John Mayer, Allman Brothers bassist Oteil Burbridge and keyboardist Jeff Chimentia to jam the night away.
The show started with “Truckin’,” a hit from 1970 album “American Beauty.” Like it did throughout the night, the band played several minutes of groovy music before launching into the lyrics, embarking on a journey of guitar riffs and freestyle jams in front of a background of a swirling kaleidoscope of colors, roses and skulls.
Weir and Mayer harmonized and alternated on lead vocals. While it was a different Mayer than the star known for hits like “Daughters” and “Gravity,” his smooth, bluesy-rock style blended with the band’s in songs like “They Love Each Other.”
The first half ended with Weir and Mayer harmonizing on “Casey Jones,” drawing huge cheers from the crowd. During Burbridge’s bass solo, he swayed his whole body side-to-side, leaning into the music with a contagious energy.
Mayer launched back into the second set with “Deal,” as puffs of smoke rose from the crowd. But the second half culminated with “Dark Star,” a psychedelic jam session that the band has been known to perform for well over 20 minutes; Weir sang the song’s few lyrics, and Mayer and Chimenti gave each other cues as the screen behind the band frequently switched to images of fans twirling their bodies to the music.
It was perhaps fitting that the band ended on “Touch of Grey,” after a loud, short encore brought them back onstage. Though Weir, and many members of the audience, may have had more than a few grey hairs on their heads, his message was clear: The band’s legacy will survive.
Dead & Company’s setlist
2. “Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodleoo”
3. “They Love Each Other”
4. “Brown-Eyed Women”
5. “To Lay Me Down”
6. “Mr. Charlie”
8. “Casey Jones”
10. “Dark Star”
11. “Estimated Prophet”
12. “Eyes of the World”
14. “Wharf Rat”
15. “Sugar Magnolia”
16. “Touch of Grey” (encore)