Grateful Dead

Philly '89 Now Available

Here’s a cool way to kick off the new year and decade: with Crimson, White and Indigo, a DVD/3-CD set that captures every second of the Grateful Dead’s superb July 7, 1989 concert at Philadelphia’s John F. Kennedy Stadium. If you loved the popular 2005 DVD/CD release Truckin’ Up to Buffalo, from July 4, 1989, well, this is the very next show: why, it’s practically like being on tour without having to pitch in gas money, eat bad road food, swelter in the heat or score a miracle ticket. Nope, all the work has been done for you—from the crisp multiple-camera shoot (with no video effects, you’ll be happy to hear) produced from the tastefully executed live screen video feed directed by long-time Grateful Dead collaborator and concert video guru Len Dell'Amico, to the crystal clear and powerful audio, mixed from the original 24-track analog tapes in both Dolby Digital stereo and 5.1 surround (for the DVD), and mastered in HDCD (for the CD). But the proof is (always!) in the playing, and this show from the sizzling summer of ’89 tour is sure to please both hard core and casual fans with its energy, diverse song list and passionate playing.

Two years removed from the craziness that surrounded the “comeback” tour of 1987 and the Dead’s unprecedented flirtation with mainstream success—thanks to “Touch of Grey” and the In the Dark album—the group was still riding the crest of that wave and attracting thousands of new fans with each passing tour. The summer of ’89 began in style for the Dead on the solstice itself with a nationally televised/broadcast concert from Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, Calif. A week and a half later, the GD circus hit the road for seven East Coast stadium shows, followed by a handful in Midwest amphitheaters. The group was in excellent form throughout, offering a great selection of old and recent favorites, and polishing some of the new songs which would make up their album-in-progress at the time, Built to Last. Visually, the Dead’s stage set that summer was perhaps the most spectacular they ever mounted—designed by noted Czech artist Jan Sawka, it consisted of dozens of enormous painted canvas panels covered with various patterns, colors and shapes—some abstract, some concrete; quite an amazing sight in an enormous stadium.

In what would turn out to be the final rock concert in Philly’s JFK Stadium (the first was The Beatles in August 1966; the aging stadium itself dated back to 1926), the Grateful Dead come out on a brutally hot afternoon (after a fine opening set by Bruce Hornsby & the Range) with rock ’n’ roll on their minds. “Hell in a Bucket” is an appropriate opening choice for a day that is nearly hot as Hades, and then Jerry takes the party to the next level with a truly inspired “Iko Iko.” He’s all smiles, and that’s always a good sign! From there, the first set dips into some blues (“Little Red Rooster”), Hunter-Garcia classics like “Ramble on Rose” and “Loser,” a potent version of Dylan’s “Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again,” a wonderfully exploratory version of “Let It Grow,” and finally, Brent Mydland’s still-newish anthem “Blow Away,” which is one of his finest performances of that rockin’ tune.

You gotta love a second set that opens with a warm and inviting “Box of Rain”—peppy and nicely sung—and then right on its heels a “Scarlet Begonias” > “Fire on the Mountain” that is as “up” and celebratory as you could hope for: The “Scarlet” breezes along with joyous purpose, and the “Fire” hits all sorts of mighty peaks; at nearly 25 minutes, it’s a spectacular pairing. “Estimated Prophet” is marked by a smoldering intensity and then the jam that follows settles into the majestic Hunter-Garcia ballad “Standing on the Moon,” surely one of their greatest late-era compositions, and played only seven times before this standout version. The DVD depiction of the “Rhythm Devils” percussion duel gives us a fascinating glimpse of the tools and techniques Mickey and Bill used to create their magical alchemy, and then, following “Space,” the band launches into a hair-raising, careening “Other One” (dig how the camera shows us Phil’s rumbling bass intro up close!), Jerry takes us down to the docks of the city for an emotional “Wharf Rat,” and Bob gets back into party-mode for the concluding “Lovelight.” The encore of Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” offers a beautiful grace note for a show that has taken us through so many different spaces and moods.

The beautifully designed package for Crimson, White and Indigo (the name comes from a line in “Standing on the Moon,” of course) includes loads of great photos by Bob Minkin and an essay from veteran Grateful Dead observer Steve Silberman. All in all it’s a wonderful show from a great year!

--Blair Jackson


CD 1
1. Hell In A Bucket
2. Iko Iko
3. Little Red Rooster
4. Ramble On Rose
5. Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again
6. Loser
7. Let It Grow
8. Blow Away

CD 2
1. Box Of Rain
2. Scarlet Begonias
3. Fire On The Mountain
4. Estimated Prophet
5. Standing On The Moon
6. Rhythm Devils

CD 3
1. Space
2. The Other One
3. Wharf Rat
4. Turn On Your Lovelight
5. Knockin' On Heaven's Door

DVD tracklist is same as CD


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Joined: Jan 28 2009

I had the privilege of being at this show and the July 4th show in Buffalo.

Those shows were rocking.

Phila was so hot during the day and I just cooked.

The energy of the Box into Scarlet is sick.

My favorite scarlet and sotm of all time.

Joined: Jun 5 2007
Not as bad as I thought

I've been listening to the tracks available at the "listening party" (ROR, LIG, & FOTM). Not nearly as bad as I expected it to be, based on all the reviews. True, the drums could have a lot more presence, but they're not entirely inaudible (as some people seemed to be suggesting). Some creative EQing and it sounded fine. 1989 was "my year;" I saw virtually every show they played that year, and loved every minute of it. So many peak moments that year. It's nice to have official releases of some of them, like the three summer shows that are available (when is DFH going to come out on DVD??!?!), the "Bobby's Birthday" show, and now this and the Warlocks box set.

If this were a CD-only release, I might not bother, as the SQ really isn't that great. But to have the DVD makes it worth it. As for sound quality, though, the Warlocks set seems pretty fantastic. Only heard the Listening Party cuts so far, but the mix is superb. That's a must-have.

Many thanks to the powers that be for making these shows available.

marye's picture
Joined: May 26 2007

gone now...

Joined: Aug 17 2010
same old s.........

oh a new post on crimson white and indigo,got excied about it and look what we have above,
and the user name is charity lol.

Joined: Apr 13 2009
more on this release

I want to amend, somewhat, my earlier comments. I don't mean to give this a negative review. There's a lot to like about this release: great performance, and a very nice video. This has multiple cameramen walking around filming in the same way they did the Grateful Dead Movie, so it makes it very entertaining. And the interaction and obvious enthusiasm of the band is a real treat to watch. As I said earlier, I think that's a big part of why this was released. There's hardly a blown lyric and only a few minor flaws that are quickly overcome. It's really late-era brilliance at its finest. Excellent Scarlet>Fire and Wharf Rat and a fine Heaven's Door encore. I think there might have been some problems with the source tapes, but it's not like they're terrible or anything. The sound is just a little diffuse and maybe not quite as good as you'd expect from such a deluxe release. It gets better during Drums>Space. Anyway, I would recommend this if you're a fan of the late-era, or just a fan. It goes nicely with the other '89 releases. Many Heads are of the opinion that the later years don't match up with 65-75, and they may be right, but 1989 was a very good year, and they showed they still had it. It has its own particular charms. They were still a very, very good band at this point as this release shows.

Joined: Apr 13 2009
Sound quality vs. show quality

I've watched this up to the beginning of Estimated. I'll just give my 2 cents as far as the sound quality is concerned. It's not as good as Truckin' Up To Buffalo. I think I can see why this show was released, it's a very good performance. The first set is uniformly solid and energetic, Jerry is really "on," and the band is tight and cohesive. It's just that unfortunately the sound is a little blurry, the drums do kind of fade in and out and none of the instruments seem to have a consistent place in the mix, other than perhaps the bass, which after some early problems stays pretty good and loud. Maybe it's the engineering, maybe it's the tapes, maybe both. Phil's mike does have problems during Box of Rain, it's just not up front like it should be. That isn't to say you can't enjoy this release, but it does detract somewhat. I think the 5.1 version is better than the stereo version. But as I said, the performance is very good, and during this era that wasn't always guaranteed, even during the "comeback" years of 88-91. I think the pros definitely outweigh the cons, but you should be aware of the sonic flaws before you get this.

Joined: Jun 11 2010
Joined: Aug 3 2009
sorry i was wrong

i thought this was box set time of year winterland 77 came out in october 09 i thought it came out last june winterland 73 came out in april 08.Anyway its road trips time for sure.They will anounce it any day i bet.Cant wait.

Joined: Aug 3 2009

the last two years box sets came out this time of year not christmas.Winterland 73 late spring of 08 and last year june winterland 77.Whats this years box set how about early 80s.'s picture
Joined: Jun 6 2007
Release schedule issues

Boxsets appear to coincide with the Christmas trade - but what's up with the Road Trips? It's a month behind schedule already.


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