Amway Center, Orlando, FL - Cover Art
Amway Center – Orlando, FL – 2/27/18

We ask you — what better place to finish off one long thrill ride of a tour than the amusement park capital of the world? Well, that’s where Dead & Company wound things up (albeit a couple of months later than originally planned) when they played Orlando on February 27th, 2018, having cut a mighty swath through various parts of the USA (plus a nice little detour to Mexico).

You could tell this show was going to be a finale to reckon with when the band opened with one of the songs that gets a crowd fired up as well as anything in the Grateful Dead book ever has, “St. Stephen,” then followed it up with a tune about a ride most definitely not to be found at any of the local theme parks — Bob Weir and John Barlow’s “Hell In A Bucket.” From there on out, it was a show full of twists and turns to rival any of those supersized roller coasters that jut into the sky not far from the Amway Center, with a head-spinning mixture of blues, rock, ballads and, as always, plenty of satisfying collective improvisation. Highlights include a version of “The Wheel” that incorporates a bit of Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al,” a particularly fine rendition of “Althea” and a pairing of two of the works that earned 1977 reputation as one of the Grateful Dead’s peak years, “Estimated Prophet” and “Terrapin Station.” Appropriately performances of “Casey Jones” and “U.S. Blues” bring the evening, and the tour, to a fitting close.