Bob Dylan Covers Grateful Dead’s “Friend of the Devil” at Oakland Concert: Stream

It was the first deviation from his setlist in 37 shows

Bob Dylan Grateful Dead cover Friend of the Devil

Bob Dylan revived the Grateful Dead staple “Friend of the Devil” at his Oakland show on Saturday, June 11th, as part of his ongoing “Rough and Rowdy Ways” North American tour.

It was the first instance in 37 shows that Dylan has diverged from his established setlist and his first performance of the song since 2007, according to Rolling Stone. The one-time bandleader of Dylan & The Dead during a 1987 combined tour added “Friend of the Devil” to his solo repertoire in 1990, and it continues to stand as his most-covered tune from the band’s catalog. Check out fan-captured audio of the set closer below.

Though no explanation was given for the sudden change in sequencing, as with any creative decision Dylan makes, it invites some deeper analysis and theorizing. The Saturday show marked the end of a three-night run at Oakland, California’s Fox Theater, the closest stop on this leg to the Dead’s neighboring hometown of San Francisco.

Not only does the rendition honor the band’s collective influence on the Bay Area, but it could have also been a direct tribute to the late “Friend of the Devil” co-writer Robert Hunter, with whom Dylan collaborated on his 2009 album Together Through Life. The Fox Theater dates were notably Dylan’s first shows in the area since the longtime Dead lyricist’s September 2019 passing.

Regardless of the reason, it was a welcome surprise that comes late into Dylan’s current West Coast romp in support of 2020’s Rough and Rowdy Ways. He’s set to host another three-night performance in Los Angeles starting June 14th with more dates stretching into the first week of July, just in time for his lucrative T. Bone Burnett-produced re-recording of “Blowin’ in the Wind” to go up for auction. Grab your seats via Ticketmaster.

Perhaps more of a coincidence than conspiracy, but Dylan’s “Friend of the Devil” bust-out occurred the same night and only hours away from the opening night of Dead & Companys 2022 summer tour at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Catch the bus on the group’s 20-date trek here.

Meanwhile in the Phil Zone, bassist Phil Lesh recently announced he would be joined by WilcoJeff Tweedy and Nels Cline, among others, at Chicago’s Sacred Rose Festival for the latest Dead-related incarnation dubbed PHILCO. Tickets are on sale now at the festival’s website.


Follow Consequence