Fare Thee Well, the Grateful Dead 50th anniversary shows that also puts a cap on one of the most remarkable live music careers in music history, wrapped Sunday night at Soldier Field in record-setting fashion.
Produced by Peter Shapiro in partnership with AEG subsidiary Madison House, Fare Thee Well featured the "core four" of surviving members Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Mickey Hart, and Bill Kreutzmann, along with Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio standing in for the late Jerry Garcia on guitar and vocals. Jeff Chimenti (keyboards), and Bruce Hornsby (piano) rounded out the band, which performed two joyous sets of music each night at Soldier Field, site of the last Grateful Dead performance with Jerry Garcia 20 years ago.
Two days after pulling off the Super Bowl of the Dead, Shapiro was elated. "It’s a great feeling," he tells Billboard. "When you’re in the middle of it, so many things are moving around, you’re adjusting, things are changing, the land’s moving. But now, it’s done. Nobody can change what just happened. Pretty intense."
Beyond celebrities including Bill Murray, Katy Perry, Perry Farrell and John Mayer, the live music industry was also well-represented, and many were just as impressed as were the ecstatic fans. "I’ve been to thousands of shows, and [Fare Thee Well] was without a doubt one of the coolest things I’ve ever been to in my life," says Bowery Presents talent buyer Josh Moore. "The energy in the building was completely insane. Where I was standing, I was surrounded by agents, managers and promoters from all different areas of the industry, and I think they all would say it was one of the most incredible concert experiences of their lives. From my perspective, it was a flawless production and a perfect weekend."