Grateful Dead Launch 50 Year Anniversary 'Fare Thee Well' Tour

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It's hard to imagine a Grateful Dead concert featuring goers driving mini-vans, sedans, and luxury vehicles, but so it goes for the Grateful Dead's 'Fare Thee Well' tour. The five concert event celebrates the 50 year anniversary of the band. The first concert of the tour kicked off in Santa Clara, where the band got its start. The tour is significant beyond the anniversary, as it was the first time the core of the Grateful Dead group had performed as The Grateful Dead since 1995; the year Jerry Garcia passed away.

The 'Fare The Well' tour will feature one more show in Santa Clara, before moving to Chicago. At Soldier Field, they'll host three shows July 3, 4, and 5th. Soldier Field is significant in the history of the Grateful Dead as it was the venue of their last live performance with Jerry Garcia. There were questions leading into the concert, most notably how Garcia's replacement would do? Those duties fell mostly to Trey Anastasio of Phish fame. The entire set ran for three and a half hours, which is a standard for a long-running Dead show.

Reactions to the Garcia-less concert were mixed, with most people simply happy to see the core four of the group together again - Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Mickey Hart, and Bill Kreutzmann. Shirley Halperin of Billboard.com noted that it took a bit for everyone to get in sync, "So set one of Fare Thee Well took some getting used to, not just for the audience, but even for Anastasio, Weir and Lesh to settle in.", however, they recovered, "But settle they did, finding a groove not long after opening the night with two of the Dead’s biggest hits, “Truckin’” and “Uncle John’s Band.” Both got the mid-tempo treatment, the latter airy and bright in tribute to its acoustic, singalong origins, as they set the pace for the rest of an hour-long set that dove back into the Dead archive for even older choices like “Alligator,” which still found Anastasio somewhat restrained."

Another interesting element of the show was the concert-goers could now share their experience on social media. On Twitter, #Dead50 was the prominent attachment to everyone's 140 character description of the show. Reactions ran the gamut, with most people just enjoying the reunion.

For those who are unable to attend the concerts, the MLB is offering webcasts of the shows in Santa Clara for $20 a piece.. The Chicago shows will cost $30, or you can buy all 5 webcasts for $110.

Appropriately enough, and perhaps a sign from above, a rainbow formed across the stadium during the end of 'Viola Lee'. With the sold out shows, leading the Grateful Dead to their final performance, a quote from Garcia himself seems appropriate, "Our strong suit is what we do, and our audience."