February 8 - February 14, 2010
Our first stop this week is at the Meadowlands in New Jersey, where the Grateful Dead were playing their first ever three-night run at the Brendan Byrne Arena. The middle night, 3/31/88, featured a very odd show ending jam, and we're pleased to play it for you here today. The post-Drums sequence of Space>GDTRFB>Miracle>Fantasy>Hey Jude>Watchtower, Knockin' featured a couple of things to note. First of all, check out the gorgeous Space, with Jerry, Phil and Bobby doing all sorts of cool things. The transition into GDTRFB is one of the cleanest I've ever heard, followed by a passionate Miracle into a terrific Dear Mr. Fantasy. At the end of Fantasy, during the Hey Jude coda, Brent and Bobby can be heard doing some outstanding vocal bits. Then one of the strangest bits of late-80s Grateful Dead music arrived: All Along The Watchtower. All I can say is check it out; train wreck narrowly averted, perfectly executed chaos ensues. Also, this encore would end up being the only time the Grateful Dead played two Bob Dylan songs in a row.
Next we have music from the final Grateful Dead show at the Hartford Civic Center on 3/19/90. We have the end of the first set, Picasso Moon, Brown-Eyed Women, All Over Now, Deal. This was the first time I ever saw Picasso Moon live, and although much-maligned, I thought the song kicked butt live, and I was thoroughly impressed hearing it the first time live. A nice, raunchy, rocking end, similar in tone to long-lost closing jams on Passenger. It's a great Deal, too, one of those versions where everyone locks in tightly in the closing jam.
From the same tour, on 3/29/90 at Nassau Coliseum, we have the start of the first set featuring Jack Straw, Bertha, We Can Run, Ramble On Rose, Masterpiece. We've selected this batch of tunes not only because it's really good, but it often gets overlooked due to the presence of Branford Marsalis later in the first set and in the second set.
Finally this week, we have the penultimate (there it is again!) Canadian Grateful Dead concert, held at the current home of the Hamilton Bulldogs (Go Habs!), at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada on 3/20/92. I distinctly recall this day being a very cold, crisp, sunny end-of-winter day, and I spent some time in the afternoon visiting the CFL Hall of Fame near the arena. I also remember being in the hotel lobby when the band arrived and checked in, to a huge round of applause by a lobby filled with Dead Heads. From that show, we have Hell In A Bucket, Althea, The Same Thing, Brown-Eyed Women, Mexicali Blues>Maggie's Farm. This latter combination is cool as Mexicali rarely started cold, usually coming out of Mama Tried or Me and My Uncle. These versions of Maggie's Farm with everyone taking a verse were pretty cool, too. Hearing Vince sing his verse in Europe in 1990 was the first time any of us had ever heard Vince's voice on its own.
Be sure to stop by next week when we'll listen to music from 1974 and 1982. Thanks for hanging out, and feel free to send questions or comments to me at the email address below, with the subject “Grateful Dead” to make sure it squeezes through our state-of-the-art spam filters.
Yep, that Watchtower is an interesting display of band dynamics. Everybody sounds like they have their own take on meter and speed, but somehow they all manage to hang together. You had to have a sense of humor to play in this band.
And how about the Space's of the 1990's? Incredible!!!!
I agree the Dead were not playing their best in the 90's but there was some really powerful moments in the 90's. In my opinion it is crazy to just say the whole 5 years was a waste. For example there was some really great concerts in 1991 with Bruce. Or how about some of the Jerry songs for example Lazy River Road, So Many Roads, Days Between and those powerful Visions of Johanna from 95, wow! To say the 90's was a waste blows my mind.
on the GDTRFB from Byrne Arena, you can almost hear Jerry laughing, after the first vocal ping-pong between Bob and Brent...classic!
Thanks David for taking us out of this gloom. As the Olympics commence, how about a visit to some Lake Placid tunes, to commemorate the 1980 Miracle on Ice?
I gotta agree with gratefulbob, listening to these selections is actually depressing and sad, to hear how far a once great band had fallen. Far better for Jerry and the boys to have been relaxing at home then butchering great songs of the past. The spirit wasn't willing, and the body was unable! (and to think that the great '73 tour started this week 37 years ago....)
Glad we will be moving on, was nvr a big fan of 90's Dead, Jerry's voice gone, strange song selections, not knocking it...just was nvr my fav Dead era, actually I had stopped seeing them live at this point, after seeing them tru the 70's & early 80's i found the 90's quite sad . But that's the great thing about the Dead "To each their own"
Thanks David, great selections! I always loved Picasso Moon and never understood why some people did not like that song? Bobby and his guitar sound great on Picasso!