It’s a good time to be a Grateful Dead fan. The stigma of being a Deadhead has faded over the years, and the surviving members’ current projects are more visible than ever, hitting the road frequently since 2015’s 50th-anniversary shows.
This late-career renaissance has given us three summers of Dead & Company (with John Mayer, of all people, filling in for the late Jerry Garcia), a Bob Weir solo record and tour, Phil Lesh’s Terrapin Family Band with his son Grahame, and now the Bobby & Phil duo, the latest alumni endeavor, which wrapped up a tour Sunday at the Chicago Theatre. Two founding Grateful Dead members, singer and rhythm guitarist Weir and singer and bassist Lesh, took on the band’s catalog with delicate, acoustic simplicity.
Going to Dead-adjacent shows in 2018 can feel weird—you can be pretty sure you’ll see lots of normal-looking old white dudes smoking dirt weed and getting way too faded for their own good. At the Bobby & Phil date on Sunday, songs sometimes meandered and nearly fell apart (a nearly mandatory part of the Dead aesthetic), but when the two players clicked into place, they could make magic. Dead cuts such as “Cumberland Blues,” “Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo,” and “Alabama Getaway” sounded beautiful stripped down to their bare essentials—and the show was extra special because nobody’s yet sure if or when Weir and Lesh will share the stage again.
Last night’s tour-closing show was documented by veteran concert photographer Bobby Talamine, and his pictures can help you experience the good energy for yourself.