Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The band played one of only 4 of its shows in 75 at Winterland, which by then had become the band's home venue. The band give the long-awaiting crowd something to be both grateful and hopeful for, as it surely indicated the magnificent things that were to follow in 76 and 77. Although it is interesting to note that all 75 shows drastically depart from both surrounding years, 74 and 76.

June 6, 1975
Winterland Arena
San Francisco, CA

Help on the Way -> Slipknot! -> Franklin's Tower, Blues for Allah -> Drums -> King Solomon's Marbles -> Blues for Allah -> Sugar Magnolia

(Note: Help on the Way starts at disk 1, track 7.)

The Help on the Way they start out with here is out of this world incredible. No lyrics are sung but the song and the following song progression are debuted here. This Help is interesting because with the absence of the lyrics the band can play it any way it wants with fewer restrictions on where they can take the song. The following Slipknot is opened up quite a bit for a good deal of space-music exploration. The band forms a musical tightrope and cautiously puts on a show at the top, with everyone playing as if one poor move could cause everything to come to a screeching hault. The band eventually does fall but finds more room in another jam and really takes this direction with a good deal of enthusiasm before they again run into a wall. This Slipknot is certainly one of the better ones played, as its open-endedness allows the band to fully utilize this often-overlooked song's potential. The band soon finds the ending Slipknot jam and triumphantly march into the first Franklin's Tower. Jerry doesn't really command control of this Franklin's until after about the 3rd verse but once he does, his presence is immediately felt. The entire latter part of the song is completely Garcia-dominated and serves as a sign of how the entire song would develop into his own masterpiece.

The Blues for Allah the band embarks upon next conjures up primal dead psychadelia and pure, poetic playing of the 70's. The band plays with such an eerie vibe it seems like they were probably producing their own fog, allowing it to permeate throughout the entire place, claiming it in the name of the Dead. The band drudges along uphill, with everyone doing their individual best to ensure the wierdness of the trip. The drummers then take center stage, but only for a short amount of time before Phil begins playing the lines to King Solomon's Marbles. The whole band enthusiastically returns for a true spectacle, in which they tackle head on this amazing song. Garcia reasserts himself at the forefront and blazes a path for the entire band to follow, which they do, although not quite as elegantly as he does. The band ultimately find a TON of space at the end of this song and really get out there, before they return to the Under Eternity portion of Blues for Allah. This part of the song is delivered with sheer excellence and Jerry's guitar is played with a bubble sound evoking thoughts of perfection. As he triumphantly announces the ending of the song, the tapers are overheard expressing uncertainty as to their next move. I'm sure any questions they had were laid to rest as the band launches into a frollicking Sugar Magnolia to close the second set out with. This version is delivered with pride and joy as the band realize they have just played their hearts out for two hours.

The opening Crazy Fingers, first-time played, is also phenomenal.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Back to the 60's

After wandering around the 80s material for a bit, I've decided to backtrack a few decades to the all important formative years of the Dead.

February 2, 1968
Crystal Ballroom
Portland, OR

Viola Lee Blues, Cryptical Envelopment -> The Other One -> Cryptical Envelopment -> Clementine -> Good Morning Little School Girl

As usual, the Viola Lee that starts out the show is absolutely phenomenal, the Dead were clearly blazing their way through '68. The band quickly sets out with this one and set a quick and rowdy pace, which, once established, Jerry circles many times over with his fine guitar playing. The jam immediately proceeding the 1st verse is obviously led by Jerry out of the gate, as he leaves the band on a frantic tear, hypnotizing the entire crowd at once with his swirling and soaring. Garcia's playing throughout epitomizes his pre-71 sound as he is full of energy. As tends to happen, this Viola Lee Blues really cooks and the band is allowed to really find their collective groove early on with this monsterous opener. This definitely sets the tone for what is sure to be an excellent set. By the time they reach Cryptical, it seems like they would have run completely out of energy. But any thoughts of weariness or any other form of exhaustion are immediately dissipated when Jerry proceeds to rip the entire beginning of The Other One, hardly letting a second pass in which he is not filling the air with music. This Other One features Bob singing different lyrics than are normally sang, adding tremendously to this version. The following Cryptical is both assertive and enthusiastic as Jerry proclaims that "he had to die."

After the 2nd Cryptical is where things really get interesting. The band breaks out Clementine, and before the lyrics are sung the band uses the song to really space things out a bit and the opening jam is pure musical greatness. The song's quirky lyrics are given a fantastic run through by Jerry but the band (following Jerry's lead) quickly set out to re-explore the vast area that lies within this song. Jerry's solos in this jam following the 1st verse are very well played but the band takes away some of Jerry's ripping power by really opening the song up and taking a more rhythmic approach to it. Jerry takes the 2nd verse powerfully, yelling on the Clementine. His following solo helps to express what the lyrics can not, as he leads the band down a path, a very strange path at that. The only complaint against this song is that it is not long enough here, as just as you are enjoying the jam the band slyly commences Good Morning little School girl, but what a rocking version it is. Excellently played, excellently sung by Pigpen. Jerry's playing is, of course, exquisite, and really complements Pigpen's charming yet creepy rendition of this classic.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election day's show should have some sort of patriotic tie-in, so today I have opted for a show from the Fourth of July, 1984.

Five Seasons Center
Cedar Rapids, IA

The Stranger opener should certainly be given many good listens, as it, along with the Friend of the Devil are extremely gooey. Cumberland should also be checked out, but the real magic starts in the second set.

Help->Slipknot!->Franklin's Tower, Estimated Prophet -> He's Gone, Truckin'-> Wharf Rat -> Around & Around -> Good Lovin'

The Help>Slip>Franklins to start is simply impeccable. The Help gets things started off nicely and serves as the band's warmup vehicle for the following extended Slipknot!. This version really cooks and takes off, while the following Franklin's cools things down with a nice breeze blowing through the version. For 84/85 Jerry's voice seems extremely strong for this era and as always his playing is outstanding. The proceeding Far From Me is decent, but the Estimated -> He's Gone is pretty psychadelic, with Phil announcing it's dedication to "Paul & The Rainbow bus" before the He's Gone. Jerry's "Smile, smile, smile" lyric is sung with considerable enthusiasm and is greeted with a warming applause erupting from the audience. The jam out of He's Gone -> Drums is definitely serious and the Truckin' the band raises out of the depths of Space is, as expected magnificent with the crowd really feeling it. The way the band slides on into the Wharf Rat is spectacular and Jerry covers a wide array of emotions during this one. They close the set with two Bobby standard rockers, which are both standards, yet both rock, on this night.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

After a Long, Disappointing Weekend

After a disappointing weekend, a little summer 89 is quite necessary to rebuild momentum.

August 4, 1989
Cal Expo
Sacramento, CA

Set 2: Truckin' -> Wang Dang Doodle -> Crazy Fingers -> Cumberland Blues -> Eyes of the World

What a way to start the second set after an 11 song first set. The Truckin' opener features Phil sliding around on the bass and really bending those strings. The whole band sounds enthusiastic throughout and Jerry's blues riffs really sound great. Before the Truckin' takes off and gets spacey at all the band moves into Wang Dang Doodle where Bobby starts slow and builds the song up like a pro. The band carefully takes its time with the tune and every one of Jerry's notes is perfectly placed and well thought out. Not a wasted note! The song winds down and soon Jerry is pickin at the beginning of Crazy Fingers. His voice and lyrical recall are both stellar on this version and his guitar is extremely funky. They really nail this one and soon Phil starts dropping bombs indicating Cumberland Blues. This version really rocks with everyone getting into it. The following Eyes of the World is quick but extremely well-played with Brent scatting on his keyboard in the background and his backup vocals adding a nice touch. The rest of the set finishes very nicely, and the first set is definitely worth checking out too, particularly the Bertha->Greatest Story opener, as well as Cassidy & Deal to close out the first set. The Baby Blue encore is also especially strong.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Viva Las Vegoose!

Here is a recap of the music aspect of my Halloween weekend in Vegas:

Friday October 27:
Orleans Arena, Las Vegas, NV
Robert Randolph & The Family Band
Setlist: unknown
10:30 - 11:30

Trey Anastasio
Set I: Simple Twist up Dave, First Tube, Stone Free*, 46 Days*, Sweet Dreams Melinda, Push On Til the Day, What's Done, Goodbye Head > Plasma, Gotta Jiboo
Encore: Mr. Completely > Tuesday

* with Robert Randolph on pedal steel
Walked in about 30 minutes into Robert Randolph's set, he was ripping everything in just about every direction. They then took a 30 minute break where everything cleared out for a bit which allowed us to get closer to the stage. Trey came out about midnight. At first I thought the Simple Twist was a little slow as an opener but Trey really opened the song up and found some very interesting jams somewhere in the middle of it. The First Tube really got everything going and he rocked it pretty hard. Robert Randolph came out for Hendrix's Stone Free and 46 Days and really did a great job, Trey sorta stepped back a little during these jams, but came out firing on the next songs. The Sweet Dreams was an absolute treat that he rocked extremely hard, and then of course Push On Til the Day was filled with energy and great trumpet. The Goodbye Head > Plasma, Gotta Jiboo was absolutely insane and the Jiboo really takes off and goes in some strange directions. The encore is extremely fun, especially the closing Tuesday.

Saturday October 28:
Orleans Arena, Las Vegas, NV
Phil & Trey with John Medeski, Larry Campbell, and John Molo

Set I: Ghost > Cryptical Envelopment > The Other One > Drifting > Dark Star > Mountains of the Moon > 46 Days > Mountains of the Moon > St. Stephen > The Eleven > Plasma

Set II: Dark Star > One for the Rose > Dark Star > Wharf Rat > I Know You Rider

Encore: Viola Lee Blues > Here Comes Sunshine > Shine

This show was absolutely incredible. After noodling around a few minutes, Trey leads the band into a rocking Ghost, playing it quite a bit quicker and louder than most Phish versions. Phil then steps up and takes the band and crowd through an excellent Cryptical -> Other One, with Trey playing very high and all over the place. Really a very strong version. Trey's Drifting started out a little too cautious but really found an excellent groove with Trey playing some great sounding notes. The band then wound its way through 2 distinct high powered jams with both Trey and Phil bending the strings on their instruments. The second jam involves some seriously spacy noodling before it gently approaches Dark Star. Trey exhibits tremendous playing throughout and after Phil nails the first verse, Trey sends the entire place into orbit. Once the powerful Dark Star jam ends, Phil launches into an intense Mountains of the Moon where he really nails the lyrics and emotions of the song. Medeski really adds a lot to the psychadelic feel of the song, and Phil does not disappoint. Towards the end of the song the band begins playing 46 Days which seems out of place on paper but Trey and Medeski do a really good job of making it seem to fit within the context of the Mountains of the Moon jam. At the end of the song Phil abrubtly begins singing Mountains of the Moon again, Hi-Ho! the carion crow, Bow & Bend to me! Pure greatness!
The band begins to play a 46 Days similar jam but then begin an extremely loud and rockin St. Stephen where Trey can do no wrong. After scatting through another jam, the band rocks the Eleven with Medeski really allowing for things to get wierd in teh arena. After the Eleven the band marches through an Other One sounding jam with Trey really playing great. Trey then brings his backup vocalist out for Plasma which fits perfectly with the set but seems like a strange first set closer.

With so much intensity and ground covered in the first set, I really didn't know where they could take this one in the second set. Yet, despite the first set's tendency to create unrealistically high expectations, the band did not disappoint the crowd one bit in the second set and things really got deep this late into the morning.

The band started the second set similar to the first with some spacey jamming/noodling before launching into Dark Star, with Phil singing the "shall we go.." lyrics again. Nice Phil! Phil then sang a song I'm unfamiliar with "One for the Rose" but it sounded very good and of course Trey and Medeski played excellent on it. The band then returned to Dark Star with another high powered jam that eventually led into a more spacey jam. The band finally find themselves in Wharf Rat where Trey delivers an exquisite version. This band just drips with the goo as Trey really shines on this one. Things really pick up towards the end with Trey leading the band in a marching jam that wraps into a killer I Know You Rider that does not slow down for one minute. The band takes a short break and Phil does his usual Donor Rap and suddenly the band is back out there for an extended encore. They start things out right with an extremely hot Viola Lee Blues that lasts for a good 15 minutes. Everyone seems to be having lots of fun and jamming their souls out. At the end of Viola Lee Trey begins a fine Here Comes Sunshine where he handles both the lyrics and the guitar playing perfectly. Trey finishes the show off by bringing out his back up vocalist once again for an actually remarkable version of Shine where the band plays with a great deal of ferocity. We stumbled outside back into the cold Vegas night about 4:45 after the daylight savings time hour.
Sunday October 29:
Vegoose Music Festival, Star Nursery Field,UNLV Las Vegas, NV

Rhythm Devils
The Center-> Your House-> Cumberland Blues-> Comes Dawn, New Speedway Boogie, Next Dimension-> Drums-> The Other One, The Wedge, Fire on the Mountain, Turn on Your Lovelight

Encore: Good Lovin'

The Rhythm Devils took the stage about 3 o clock and immediately started jamming pretty hard to two new tunes, The Center and Your House before finding Cumberland Blues. The band really plays with a lot of energy during Cumberland and Kimock takes the solos very nicely. The lead singer really got into this one, as did Mike Gordon. The next song was more of a small jam before the excellently played and sang New Speedway Boogie. Definitely one of the highlights of the set. Kimock really tears up the Next Dimension before Billy and Mickey do what they do best during drums. The whole band returns for a powerful Other One with everyone firing on all cylinders. Mike steps up to the plate and delivers a superb Wedge before Kimock shines on the following Fire. He plays a very Garcia-eque sounding guitar and Mike really plays a great and recognizable bass on this classic. The band then plays a powerful Lovelight before ending with a standard Good Lovin'.

Phil & Trey with John Medeski, Larry Campbell, John Molo
Set I: Shakedown Street > Sweet Dreams Melinda > Row Jimmy, Let It Ride > Sleep Again, Like a Rolling Stone, Back on the Train > Bird Song > Help On the Way > Slipknot > Franklin's Tower

Encore: Donor Rap, Not Fade Away

Despite Phil's announcement that Saturday's late night show would be psychadelic and Sunday's show would be more straight ahead rocking good time, some of the psychadelic goo dripped overflowed into Sunday's evening performance. With the extended Shakedown Street opener the band forges ahead sounding excellent with Phil noticeably getting into the refrain. Trey then plays Sweet Dreams Melinda for the second time of the weekend, but this version really sounds great. Trey then flubs the beginning of Row Jimmy but returns for a strong performance. Phil stood up next and played a Ryan Adams' cover of Let it Ride where he really gets into the vocals. The whole band sounds excited and polished before Trey brings everyone back down a notch with his dreamy Sleep Again. This song sounded extremely great and Trey really did a good job with it. The band, and particularly Phil, really found their stride with a fine reading of Like A Rolling Stone, with Trey's guitar playing a perfect complement to Phil's strong vocals. Mike Gordon joined the band onstage for Phish's Back on the Train which the band really jammed out, complete with Mike playing Trey's guitar at a suprisingly good level. Phil then leads the band into Bird Song which he delivers with much emotion and perfection. This takes the band into a solid Help on the Way > Slipknot! with the only letdown being Franklin's after such a strong beginning to the trifecta. The band's encore of Not Fade Away was extremely straightforward and rocking, just brimming with energy. And with that the Phil & Trey shows were complete.
Widespread Panic
Set 1: Climb to Safety > Surprise Valley > Henry Parsons Died, From the Cradle > Pigeons, Rebirtha > Tallboy, Blue Indian, Solid Rock > Fishwater, Conrad > Thought Sausage > Barstools and Dreamers > Action Man, Papa's Home, Little Wing > Porch Song, Ribs and Whiskey > Good People > Chilly Water

Encore: Ain't Life Grand

The main highlights that I saw were the Suprise Valley, an excellent From the Cradle, and a sick Rebirtha -> Tallboy, Blue Indian. After the Tallboy I started to leave but came back when I heard them go into Blue Indian, however, after Blue Indian I left the main stage for good to catch the end of the Roots show.

The Roots
Game Theory, Star, Don't Say Nuthin', In the Music, Don't Feel Right, Stay Cool, Mellow My Man, Justuckwithis, Hub Solo, Double Trouble, Questlove Knuckles & Kirk Solo, You Got Me, The Next Movement, Black Betty, The Seed, Cowbell Skit (SNL), Smooth Criminal, Melting Pot, Kamal Solo, Hip Hop 101

I didn't get to this show until the classic deliverance of Black Betty. The band continually entertained throughout the show playing great covers of Black Betty and Smooth Criminal while entertaining the crowd with jams, Will Ferrel's Cowbell blue oyster cult skit, and endless jams, complete with a very nice hip hop 101.

The Reappearance of Daily Dead

What a good day to bring Grateful Dead to you! After returning from Vegoose this week I have decided to start up again, as the music that filled my ears also filled my soul with inspiration.

Nov. 24, 1972
Dallas Memorial Auditorium
Dallas, TX

Today's Daily Dead is from the November 24, 1972 Dallas show at Memorial Auditorium. The band ends a fantastic show with a smoking Not Fade Away -> Goin' Down the Road -> Not Fade Away. Just before the 3:00 mark Jerry tears into it and really finds a solid groove. Phil loudly moves up and down the scales while Jerry absolutely soars! Garcia plays his heart out for a solid 2 minutes before re-submersing himself in the band's rhythmic groove. Eventually he emerges from the groove and leads the band into an extremely fine version of Goin' Down the Road where his guitar sounds like absolute beauty. Around 3:00 Jerry really takes flight on this one and pushes the boundaries but only for a little over a minute. He then returns to the main solo theme and plays it with a good lot of enthusiasm but soon the band pushes him again as they build up for a very dramatic jam before returning to the chorus. Once they return to Not Fade Away the band really peaks again and brings us a very fiery performance. Enjoy.