March 19, 1995
first "Unbroken Chain"
Set List:Alabama Getaway
So Many Roads
Don't Ease Me In
Samson & Delilah
Long Way to Go Home
I Need a Miracle ->
Stella Blue ->
Not Fade Away
E: Brokedown Palace
1st Unbroken Chain
Attendees of this show
This show gets an average rating just because the breakout of Unbroken Chain was cool. The show was sloppy (especially Unbroken), but the crowd went NUTS when Phil starting singing!
after Don't Ease, we were grumbling what a crappy set it was, expecting it to be done. What a surprise when they broke out the Chain! NUTS is an understatement. The crowd went ape-shit bananas. I couldn't even hear the entire introduction. The guy behind me, a big burly biker dude wearing his colors and everything, grabbed me and gave me a huge bear-hug. He was screaming, "They're playing Unbroken Chain!!!" and jumping up and down like a little kid. It was a pretty awesome experience considering I was 18 years old and this guy was probably 50. Well, the rest of the show was alright but the 17th was better, all around. When I came out to the parking lot everyone was talking about how "it's over, it's the end of the Dead, because they played Unbroken Chain." I don't know how all the Heads knew, but they did. Just one of those things. It was a great time, really it was blessing to have gotten to be there and experience a part of the trip, even though for me, it was just at the end.
Philly Sunday March 19
SUMMARY: UNBROKEN CHAIN (need we say more?)
Well, it’s 2:20 a.m. here in beautiful NYC, and I really wasn’t going to write tonight, but I got the most LOVELY notes from StellaBloo and Rikkphish about the Saturday review, SO...
All of us strangers who were sitting in the fourth row last night, courtesy of mail order from GDTS, have now been transferred en masse to the lower level, almost directly across from the stage. Nobody around me has a GDP laminate, fake-silk tour jacket, or backstage pass. I feel much more at home. (Although one friendly fellow DOES have an entire box of unopened digital audio tapes. We like him, and let him stay. But I digress... and I haven’t even started yet!)
OK. Alabama Getaway to open the show. I think they will follow with Greatest Story, but Bobby leaves the stage at the end so...
He comes back and they do Walking Blues, which is uneventful to these grumpy ears. So Many Roads follows, filled with mistakes and weak playing from Jerry. He belts out the, “So many roads!” at the end, and everyone is happy: It..is...ALIVE!
Bobby gives us Easy Answers, the song everyone loves to hate. I dunno; I’m partial to the Wasserman/Bobby/Neil Young version on Trios. But more interesting to me, is that Bobby seems to be getting more into a funk groove. I hear a slice of “What Is Hip” by Tower of Power (I THINK) here, and Saturday night he was really into the rhythm funk groove during the space. We’ll get it again during Corina, but I am getting ahead of myself. One nation under a groove...y’all! (Are we really ready to see Bobby playing with George Clinton or Sly Stone? How about a duet with James Brown doing, “Say It Loud; I’m Black and I’m Proud!” Excellent! )
As soon as Easy Answers ends, Jerry jumps into an uneventful Don’t Ease Me In. A five song first set? Yikes! I’m old and infirm enough to remember first sets with more than 10 songs... this is getting ridiculous! And not a “challenging” tune in the bunch (i.e. Bird Song, Let it Grow, Cassidy, Lazy Lightnin’, etc.)
Bobby leaves the stage again, comes back, and then it happens.
Unbroken Chain. Live. For the first time ever.
From the first notes we know what it is; rumors have been swirling about this. (Actually these rumors have been around for YEARS, so...). Phil’s opening is beautiful and perfect. The crowd is going sufficiently ber-serk. And I’m going DOUBLE berserk to make up for the nice guy next to me who, halfway through the tune, asks me what this song is called!
When they get to the drum break it’s incredible; that great driving beat. My only regret is that Jerry’s solo is either quiet or halting or both. Phil steps back in and finishes and it’s all there -- even the wonderful, “La, la la”’s at the end. Just a friendly reminder that it DOES all come ‘round again -- all those songs that we once said would NEVER be played do come out...sooner or later.
OFF-THE-TOPIC-TANGENT: There were a couple of postings here [this post originally from the AOL Grateful Dead forum -- GG] about the fact that now that the band is using all of that wireless gear, including the earphones that they use instead of on-stage monitors, clever heads have gotten their hands on police scanners. The exact technology eludes me, but basically you can sit outside the hall during sound check and hear not only what they’re playing, but also what they’re saying to each other in between songs. Someday we’ll probably start getting tapes that include not only the music, but all the conversations that go on between band members too.
This technology was used to get the word out yesterday that the band was debating whether they should play Unbroken Chain or not.
Now... I’ve always been one of those people with my ear to the exit door during sound check...if I happen to be around. And I can’t deny that I love all of the latest Dead gossip, theories, and non-ugly rumors. BUT... isn’t this going a little too far? I know that it’s LEGAL -- the radio airwaves are open to anyone -- but is it moral? Everyone knows that cellular phones and cordless phones can also be eavesdropped on with the right electronic gear (that’s why drug dealers and lawyers don’t use them to discuss serious business!) Does that mean that if some well-meaning head can figure out how to tap into the Dead’s phone calls that we should? Be curious to hear your thoughts.
END OF HYSTERICAL RANT AND RAVE. RESUME NORMAL READING.
To bring us up to date, Unbroken Chain was a little rough but basically phenomenal and life changing. The rest of the show has been pretty weak.
The guys behind me during intermission are so dosed that EVERYTHING is hilarious, especially me. Highlight of intermission for me is that they’re playing the album “Kind of Blue” by Miles Davis with John Coltrane through the P.A. An incredible album -- buy it now. I am the only one dancing to it during intermission, and the guys behind me are hysterical. Nice to be appreciated!
The lights go down for the second set and they stay low for awhile before the band comes out. Reminiscent of the good ol’ days when they would keep the stage lit but the house lights kinda low during intermission, instead of blasting us with the basketball/hockey lighting.
The second set opens with Samson & Delilah. I like the newer versions, where they ease into it rather than blasting us with the drum beats first. The band seems interested, but maybe I just don’t get it and this rendition is short (for a second set opener) and pedestrian.
Vince does Long Way to Go Home. I’m tellin’ ya, this guy just keeps getting better, although I must confess that this isn’t my all-time favorite Dead tune. (Quelle surprise!)
Jerry starts Crazy Fingers and it’s a mess. IF he’s using the TelePrompTer for the lyrics (some debate on that point) than he needs ANOTHER one to remind him where the jams vs. the lyrics go! This one is saved by a wonderful jam at the end, with Jerry playing loud and strong for the first time tonight. Crazy Fingers leads into Corina. Like I said, I’m apparently one of few people on the planet who really dig this tune (great dancing beat) but it is REALLY sloppy tonight, groove-wise. Again, the jam at the end saves it, leading into a terrific jam that sounds to me like a real song (that is, melody and harmony, not free-form improvisation, which I also love). In fact, it IS a real song, the old calypso tune Mathilda (sp?). Jerry sings it alone in a very soft voice, and the band looks BAFFLED. I give him triple word score for trying something a little different. (It’s been played before, but very infrequently). Drums and space are still one of my favorite parts. A little discordant tonight, but I think it’s swell.
I Need A Miracle comes out of the space. This song has come a long way from the days when we dreaded hearing it. Maybe it’s not the song itself, but rather the slot that it takes up (as you know, this is where one of the big tunes of the night can fit in). Perfect for a night like this, and a whiner like me: we’ve already had the never-heard Unbroken Chain and the seldom-heard Mathilda... what more do you want? (“It takes dynamite to get me off/Too much of everything is just enough).
The version of Stella Blue that follows is either a new arrangement or a complete mess; take your pick. It is certainly the FASTEST version I’ve ever heard. But it doesn’t strike me as up-tempo (the way Queen Jane has become, rather nicely, thank you) but rather it’s just FAST, with Jerry of all people zooming along, and the rest of the band lagging behind several measures. (I love when I use music terminology, especially since I have no idea what I’m talking about!)
One of my favorite part of any show is the electric blues-style jamming that comes out of the slow Jerry song here, and it’s swell again tonight. Not Fade Away is strong. (Does anyone remember when they would play it to include the licks from Quicksilver’s version of “Mona”? I swear I’m not losing my mind. No, really!)
Anyway, Not Fade Away uh... fades away and the band leaves the stage. Brokedown Palace is a beautiful encore.
Sum up, sum up! Jerry and Bobby looked tired or cranky or old or something. (Wait a minute; maybe that’s ME who is tired, cranky and old! Or something!)
Maybe everyone’s just getting settled in at the beginning of the tour. Phil Lesh is STILL the world’s only living animated cartoon. Here’s hoping that he continues to push them into difficult material. (With the “unthinkable” Unbroken Chain now out, how far behind can The Eleven and Pride of Cucomonga be?) The drummers still show me some of the most thinking going on on-stage. (What can I say? I LOVE complicated space music, and other people seem to hate it. Go figure.)
I love you all. No really! Those heading on to Memphis and Birmingham are in for a real treat.
(Written immediately after the show)
yeah, after ALL THESE YEARS of screaming for Unbroken Chain and just totally forgetting about it... it just appears.. after a short and not-so-great first set- I thought for a second that maybe they were reviving Weather Report suite (as that had been buried for many years...) but it was quickly evident this was going to be the FIRST Unbroken Chain and it was just ... "I can't believe I'm here, this has always been the song I was dying to hear them play".... later versions got better, and I think my favorite is actually the one from Camden NJ in '03 with Greg Osby on sax and Jimmy Herring... the ending of the song lingered on and on sensuously into the night air...
Took my 10 year old daughter to her 1st show, I just didn't figure on it also being her last. I wish now that I had taken her to earlier shows but i didn't want the resposibility of having someone to look after. I barely took care of myself! anyway, she had a great time. some a-holes in a couple rows ahead of us started a fist fight (what? I'm not kidding!) and the KIND heads around us formed a protective circle around my kid which i thought was awesome (thank you whoever you were!)
unbroken chain was astonishing! but i think i had more fun showing my offpring the parking lot scene and the responses she recieved from proudly telling everyone it was her 1st show!
We, too heard the rumors and so were not unprepared to "hear" Unbroken Chain." While we felt the vibes, the roar of the enthusiastic fans overpowered the first 20 seconds or so of the song. I felt priveleged to be a participant observor of this historic event.
As our touring life was coming to an end, it was such a super treat to be able to see this, the unveiling of Unbroken Chain. Thanks Phil! I'm glad you're OK with the Liver and everything. Organ donations keep the chain unbroken. Is that corny? Sorry.
Eternal Consciousness Enjoyin the Ride,
i saw this in the same section of the same venue as my first grateful dead show, we all rejoiced and freaked and laughed and cried and yes the earth did move.....i think i fainted for a minute though...it was like being on a rollercoaster for a few moments there, biggest bust out of all time
they didnt want to go in - i did - i was with a new GF at the time and it was raining - we went to ho sai gai in chinatown instead
This was the GD's 1st stab at "Unbroken Chain" and what a great one. Actually I thought I was back in 1964 at a Beatles concert, the approval was deafening to say the least.
Unfortunately, this was my last show. We had plans to see a run or two in the Autumn, Philly & MSG, but Jerry changed everybody's plans on August 9, 1995.