Madison Square Garden - October 17, 1994
October 17, 1994
final "Midnight Hour" - final/last "Rainy Day Women": 07-26-87 
Set List:Midnight Hour
Friend of the Devil
Eyes of the World
Man Smart, Woman Smarter
All along the Watchtower
Rainy Day Women (w/ Bob Dylan)
Attendees of this show
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Second to last show. Unbelievably long Eyes to open 2nd set. Jerry almost knocked me over during the Dew jam. Thought it had peaked, but oh no, it kept going.
Madison Square Garden
Monday, October 17, 1994
Summary: SAY! These boys CAN play!
Hmm. It's 12:35 a.m. now, and I have a business breakfast at 9:30 a.m. Between now and tomorrow morning I have to squeeze this mushy brain into a suit and tie. Hence, this one is going to be short, fast, and ugly, folks.
This is my first show of the run. I made the mistake of checking the Set List folder before I went to work this morning. Aaargh! I ALWAYS seem to miss Scarlet/Fire, my favorite! But I digress.
Or maybe I don't. Because I guess, being the grumpy old guy that I am, I was worried most about song selection going in tonight.
All fears were alleviated when Bobby opened with In the Midnight Hour. Yee-ha! They may well have played better versions elsewhere, but all I know is that this was SWELL, and the crowd cheered along.
And then Jerry took us straight to the gutter with Peggy-O. Not that this isn't a great tune, and THIS was the version that AOL-er Shmogger deserved last spring at Nassau, but it is certainly a quiet tune, which calmed everyone down after Midnight Hour.
But Bobby came to rock, and selected Minglewood. (Is it just my imagination, or has this one been missing for awhile) Just as he started, a searing blast of feedback when through the sound system -- error, or reminiscent of The Beatles "I Feel Fine" etc.?
Tennessee Jed had those wonderful shifting time signatures (??? Do I have any idea what I'm talking about here? Probably not -- ed.) You know what I mean -- each player jams on the melody with one speeding up just a little ahead of the others, while someone else drops back half a bar -- neat-O!
Bob pulls out the acoustic for Eternity, and it is amazing! Deep space! If you walked into the middle of the show at this point, you might swear that they were playing The Other One. Wonderful switching from the old Muddy Waters blues rhythm to insect fear space and back again. Way much many!
Jerry deconstructs Friend of the Devil nicely. I guess I just haven't been keeping up, but where this song used to feature soft, folk-style guitar, tonight it was filled with short searing electric guitar licks from Jerry, which when taken together brought us the melody. No, really!
Even Promised Land cooked tonight -- a truly rocking version to end the set.
So far Bob Weir and Phil Lesh are the coolest; Jerry is thinking hard, making his tremendous influence felt from behind the scenes, and regrettably hard to hear on Vince side in the first level.
(Uh-oh -- only one piece of chocolate left, and an entire second set to go. Hurry!)
Second set opened with a saucy little Eyes of the World. Aww, heck, it was great! I've been listening to this song for years in concert and this was truly different -- I think it's the first time I've heard it as a set opener (although I've heard that they've been doing it...) Instead of opening the set with a rocker like Bertha/Good Lovin (the old days) or Victim or the Crime (Uh-oh!) we are treated to a lilting, delicate jam that goes on for ages before he hear the first verse sung. Back into the jam. A truly splendid version, with Vince Welnick of all people having some wonderful solos, along with the learned and just Mr. Phil Lesh.
Eyes falls off of a cliff and lands on Man Smart, Woman Smarter. (The transition was very rough!) Just like Iko Iko, we're seeing some wonderful experiments with rhythm here -- no longer just that great Bo Diddley beat; now there's a real jam here.
Man Smart Woman Smarter ends (right????) before we get a beautiful Crazy Fingers. Am I the only one who heard a small piece of the Spanish Jam at the end of Crazy Fingers. (And IS there really such a song as "Spanish Jam", but I digress again!)
Crazy Fingers segues into a completely reworked Estimated Prophet. A great spot for this song, and a much darker, lower, doper, slower version that is terrific. Bobby gives us a great crescendo along with Jerry, and once again it is Vince that adds a really wild jam at the end, slightly reminiscent of the ultra-high notes we heard from him during Eternity in the first set.
The drums start off very slow, before descending into rhythmic noise experimentation. (Hello Brian Eno!) This is always the part of the show that I love, and everyone else uses to drink beer by. Go figure.
Bobby is out first, followed immediately by Vince. A lengthy space jam ensures, reminiscent of the modern classical composers that Phil favors, such as Elliot Sharp. (Do I know what the hell I'm talking about here? I have the theory right, but I'm getting sloppy, tossing these names around!)
The introduction to The Wheel is beautiful, hovering over the crowd on the lightest of melodies with no apparent support. Dreamy and wonderful.
All Along the Watchtower follows, and it has searing guitar solos from Bobby and Jerry before leading us into near silence, followed by Morning Dew. (Grateful Dead ESP department: Bobby obviously knew in advance that the Dew was coming, because he had a second guitar [one tuned to the right key?] on a stand that he grabbed just as the Dew started).
Even this song has changed so much over the year, and I don't know if it's the crowd or the musicians or both that have changed it. Where once Morning Dew was based on very quiet precision playing (check your Europe '72 as a reference point), now we have very strong singing from Jerry, great LOUD guitars, but none of those deft silences.
And maybe for the best, since it seems that whenever I saw the quiet versions in the late '80s, I was always surround by a bunch of people clapping off-time, and screaming for Jerry. (Oh man, what a grump I have become!) This was terrific tonight, just different. I'm sure it's all in me head, but during the "quiet" part, Jerry changed rhythms frequently, deterring the clap-along that usually ensues. (I've known of both David Grissman and Joe Jackson to stop playing and ask people NOT to clap along, because it's so hard to stay on the beat when playing complicated rhythms!) No, I don't really think that this is why they played these great shifting rhythms tonight, but hey, you never know!
Before the encore we could see Parish et al setting up additional microphones for, yes, Bob Dylan, who came out to do Rainy Day Women #12 & 35. Now granted, we couldn't hear a word of it, and I don't think anyone on stage knew the words, but who cares? (Bobby looked like he was trying to nudge Dylan toward the mic to do the next verse, but I don't think Dylan knew it!) The crowd cheered along during the "Everybody must get stoned!" part and we had a great time.
(Scene from somewhere tonight but I can't remember when: Harry at the monitor board on-stage was busy with something, and had stepped away, leaving Phil all alone at the board! The end of civilization as we know it may have ensued if Phil had twisted the right knob, but he never did, so we all have to go back to work tomorrow. Yuck-O!)
(Written immediately after the show)
This night they were "The Death Of A Screaming Moron" "Echos Thru The Universe" and "Thorns" why I have 3 for this night I don't know.
And this was my 10 year anniversary show. 10 years to the day of my first show. Check Out My Orignal Music at myspace.com/salaversano
I brought a friend to this show who had never seen the Dead. He loved it, but was a bit overwhelmed by the "heaviness" of the whole thing. That's probably because this show stands out in my mind, very memorably, as the darkest, spookiest Dead show I ever saw. And when you listen to it, keep in mind that the long, lazy start to "Eyes" was due to Jerry breaking a string. We all waited for that to get fixed, and for Jerry to finally "start" the song. But when he did, you could sense a pent-up impatience. He subsequently nailed all the lyrics, and with terrific precision.
Maybe the oddly heavy vibe was due to Dylan hanging around backstage. Who knows? But the "Morning Dew" was really forceful. And yeah, Dylan at the encore was interesting. His mike didn't work, but we all sang along on the refrain.
I ran into a veteran, elder Head two nights later. He thought this particular (10/17) show was phenomenal.
This is the last show I was blown away at. The Morning Dew was incredible. As Jerry did his last solo the entire Garden from security to the ushers to the fans were hanging on every note. It was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. These are the moments you look back on and realize that Jerry is as good of a musician that ever lived. At least at those moments.
This is the first and only Dead show I've been to. My cousin was walking by MSG a few days before the gig and on a whim went inside and bought 2 tickets. Thank him for that! What a fun show.
I remember there was lots going on around us, I floating around like Alice in Wonderland. I guess some people had been to so many shows they werent even looking at the stage most of the time, they were just talking among themselves.
I believe it was this show because I remember Dylan came on (they didn't introduce him). From looking at the other set lists from MSG '94, Dylan doesn't appear, so it must be this show.
Question: I remember people getting excited that the Dead were finally doing a song they hadn't done in forever. I always thought it was "Dark Star" (there was even someone holding a sign that read "xxx days since Dark Star") but I see it's not on the set list. WHAT SONG was it then?