Twenty years ago the Grateful Dead concluded their second successful three night run in Las Vegas. All three nights, the Steve Miller Band opened up for the band at the Sam Boyd Silver Bowl at UNLV.
The audience tapes of the shows are not very good. The wind in the venue limits the tapers abilities. The downloads are low volume and capture too much of the atmosphere. I suggest that you stream the shows instead.
They open up the first set of the three night run with the classic "Mississippi Half Step." This set is also punctuated by a strong version of "Black Throated Wind." The second set opens with "China"/"Rider". An emotional "LL Rain" with storm effects comes out of the "Rider". "Crazy Finger" leads us into a great "Playin'". The set is capped by a long "Sugar Mags," until they encore with "The Weight". Download the first night HERE
The second night's second set starts off slowly with a sly "Eyes." As a set opener, "Eyes" gets to live and breath some life into the song and set. The "Truckin'"/"Smokestack" combo pumps up the energy level in the venue, before embarking on the journey to "Terrapin." There is a thick groove jam post "Terrapin." After "Space" there is a great "Spanish Jam" (first one since 1987) that builds into "Miracle." Download it HERE
HERE. The show opens with the vehicle "Help"/"Slip"/"Frank's." The first set includes a bombastic "Queen Jane" and the dissension into space with a far out "Bird Song." The second set opens with an energetic "Scarlet"/"Fire". There's an emotional "So Many Roads," where Garcia goes ballistic at the climax of the song. This is one of my top five versions of this song.
Out of "Space" the band picks "Attics." As the song fades, Steve Miller joins the band for "Spoonful." Miller's solo leads the band into "The Other One." Then they drop into a "Dew," which Jerry and Miller share the lead on. The band and Miller come back out to encore with "Baba O'Riley" into "Tomorrow Never Knows."
You'll notice that over the three night run the band didn't play any of their gambling songs. In classic Grateful Dead fashion, they didn't okay "Loser," "Deal," or "Tennessee Jed" where they "Woke up a feeling mean, went down to play the slot machine." Sometimes things are just too obvious for the Grateful Dead to conform to. I remember driving up to Springfield, Mass for a Fourth of July Furthur Festival show. It was 1997 and I was celebrating my first anniversary of sobriety. No better way than seeing a show. My sister, Jeff and I were positive that we'd get a "Jack Straw." We were hoping that Hornsby would start the song, then have Bobby run out to join him as they had previously done in Camden.
"Sun so hot, clouds so low," it was a scorcher of a day and we got stuck in a ton of traffic heading to the Racepark. Suddenly my car stalled, but luckily the guy behind us had cables and jumped us. We rolled down the windows and turned off the AC, but yet the car stalled again. This time we got jumped by a friendly stranger whose house we were in front of. We moved a few feet and the car stalled again. The guy said, "Just leave it in my driveway until after the show and we'll try again when it's cooler." So we walked a mile or two to the venue and neither Bruce or Bobby sang, "Leaving Texas, Fourth day of July".
We left Furthur Fest before the Crowes played. The guy was was there watching TV in his shorts without a shirt. We jumped the car and it started. We drove back to Westchester with no radio, no AC, and no lights on in the car. We were drained from baking in the sun and we were all worried that we'd get stranded somewhere in-between the concert and home. We didn't talk too much on the trip home. The Merritt was dark and so was the inside of the car. When we hit the Hutch, we knew that we were close enough to walk home so I said, "Phew, we made it." The car erupted, "I know" Jeff said, "I was willing the Camry to make it back the whole way." And for the last five minutes we pontificated on whether or not Bobby played "Jack Straw" with the Crowes.