The atmosphere is hot tonight, boulevard des Italiens in Paris: the Grateful Dead will give its second concert in Paris, as part of its European tour. But if the atmosphere is electric in the streets, it is mainly because dozens of young people demonstrate and fight against the CRS to claim the free rock concerts.
The Olympia Room is a classic music hall, with its rows of tight seats against each other, and the balcony overlooking the stage - and where I'm sitting tonight. Really uncomfortable to dance. But the music, irresistible, seizes the body and, like many others, I spend a good part of the concert to gesticulate, standing, wedged between two chairs.
I dance like crazy on a Good Lovin 'furious. The musicians have no look, there is no stage play, nothing to do except Pig Pen, his hat, his look, his mouth. But after a while I do not listen anymore, I focus my attention on what the musicians do behind him. They weave wefts, they ornament, they open paths and then close them, they are discrete or roar, it seems endless, and the rhythm, always the rhythm that catches the body, makes them vibrate, the music that becomes colors, red sounds, mauve sounds, and it whirls, a real party for the head and the body.
So many songs played beautifully, tonight! From the first title of the concert, Greatest Story Ever Told (very energetic) to Chinatown Suffle, Playing In The Band (played, it seems to me, on a tempo a little slower than usual), Big Railroad Blues (where Jerry launches riffs as rarely) and so many others. Until that Dark Star, which I did not know and which appeared to me in all its magnificence, a waving and swirling sound wave. Never heard!
Graceful acrobats, subtle tightrope walkers, the musicians, fire in the veins, give, this May 4, 1972, a magnificent concert, not resembling anything I had listened to until today. Probably, one of the best concerts of one of the best tours of the Dead. For my part, one of the three biggest concerts I've attended in my life, and the biggest rock concert.
Great review, Alain. This show is definitely one of the best, if not THE best, in the box set that came out a few years ago. I was fractionally too young to catch the band in 1972-but that was the time to see them. One of them..