November 06, 1979
Set List:Alabama Getaway
Me and My Uncle
Easy to Love You
Looks Like Rain
Playin' in the Band
Attendees of this show
Strong words, I know. I've listened to a lot of shows, and I keep coming back to this one over and over again. The fall of 1979 was a very hot time for The Boys, and I strongly feel this has to do with the addition of Brent. By the time the fall of '79 came around, he'd been in the band for a little bit and had started adding lots of new voices with the B3, synth and strong piano playing. As a result, everybody else in the band became rejuvinated and the playing is fresh. The Fall 1979 tour in October & November features some of the most cerebral music I've personally ever heard.
While the first set has some memorable moments indeed (Including Jerry enunciating ev-er-y syl-a-ble dur-ing Tenn-e-ssee- Jed, and a raucous Jack Straw to close), the REAL magic is the second set. Terrapin Station is slow, but not lethargic. It is deliberate, like a lazy river; flowing, with purpose, but not in a hurry. Jerry's leads are sinuous, Brent's comping is exceptional, and Phil is dropping bombs left and right. After the final lick, you hear Bob start to count for the next song, and you hear Jerry say, "Do it to me!"
Then, the epic: Playin' In The Band. Strong tempo, Bob's voice in great shape, Brent's harmonies are right on. After the final verse, Brent immediately siezes the lead right out of the chute. Playing lines on the B3, Brent weaves in and out of the melody suggested by all the string players. After a minute or two, Jerry comes in, Brent switches to a Rhodes-style piano voice, and Bob starts playing Chords From Hell. The drummers are the fascinating thing here; while everybody continues to vamp and solo in 4/4 time, the drummers easily slide into The Eleven. The match is exquisite.
The jam that follows is the singular reason why I love this band. Playing spontaneous composition, really reaching for it, this jam is balls-out cerebral, ethereal, and sublime. Jerry and Brent trading leads, Bob comping and Phil suggesting yet another melodic line with his bass, all come together as one. The sum is truly greater than the individuals. Crescendos build, then drop, then regroup and build again. Wave upon wave of intensity, fresh ideas popping out from every twist and turn. This culminates with Brent on clavinet, Phil dropping bomb after bomb, and they all reach the zenith of musical energy. Then, everybody just STOPS PLAYING. You're left hanging there, feeling like Wiley Coyote after going over the cliff, just suspended in mid-air. It is FANTASTIC.
The peak-and-valley pattern is repeated over and over here, until Brent slides into some "outside" keyboard runs, leading to the downward spiral into wierdness. This eventually culminates with Phil inducing feedback from his bass, Bob and Brent making bird chirps, and Jerry playing fast arpeggios. Enter Drums.
Nothing wimpy here...big, fat bass drums and guiros, eventually giving way to tar and gongs. As Billy starts playing the gongs, Mickey screams, "Yeah man, keep going!" Mickey keeps holding the tar to the microphone, causing it to feed back. It sounds like outtakes from the Apocalypse Now sessions.
Space is nice and wierd, with Phil feedback and Jerry's distorted noodling. Then, a quick slide into Black Peter. Slow, intense, and perfect. Exceptionally soulful, with vocals that are right on. Brent's B3 playing makes you feel like you're at a psychedelic church revival.
Good Lovin'....it rocks. High energy, lots of tight soloing, and the Bobby scream in the last chorus is amazing.
End it all with a hard, tight rendition of US Blues. Thus ends one of the best Grateful Dead sets I've ever heard.
I've probably listened to this set well over a thousand times over the last 20-plus years, and I keep going back to it over and over again. It induces tears and goosebumps in me every single time. This show is one for the ages, and I hope you find it as inspiring and fulfilling as I do.
that was an awesome description alpine!
I want to thank you....FOR A REAL ARTICLE. I felt like I was there man. I can't wait to hear it! Thanks!
I was at that show, and your description just brought me back like I was there all over again!!!. Thank You! What a trip it was.
"One Man Gathers What Another Man Spills"