"If you tell the Truth, you don't have to remember anything"
-Mark Twain
"You realize, of course, that everything I say is horseshit." -Kurt Vonnegut

Sunday, October 14, 2012


On this date in 1980, the Grateful Dead closed out their 15 night run at the Warfield Theatre. The shows were to commemorate their 15 year anniversary as a band and featured a stripped down acoustic set before they played two electric sets. These were their first acoustic sets since 1970, when their two most acoustic albums came out. After this show they played their first shows in New Orleans since the 1970 "Busted" show, then continued on to Radio City Music Hall for 8 more nights. Download the ACOUSTIC set, SET I, and SET II. Please note that the acoustic set is an Audience recording while electric sets are both soundboards.
ACOUSTIC: Dire Wolf, Dark Hollow, Roses, Cassidy, Around This World, Monkey, China Doll, Heaven Help, Bird Song, Ripple
I: Alabama, Greatest, Friend, My Uncle, Mexicali, Candyman, Rooster, Jed, Let It Grow, Wheel, Music
II: Scarlet, Fire, Estimated, Terrapin, Playin', Drums, Space, Miracle, Uncle John's, Dew, Playin', Good Lovin' E: US Blues, Brokedown
I started with the setlist because of how fantastic the song choices are this night.
The acoustic set features a beautiful "Roses" features Bobby and Jerry singing different choruses at the first break. The crowd then takes it upon themselves to sing happy birthday to Bobby. This is the first but not the last crowd interaction with the band. A lively "Cassidy" comes next and features some great guitar work by Garcia. He does this thing on the solo were he plays each note two or three times before moving to the next note. It gives the acoustic guitar solo much more potency. He uses this same soloing technique later in the first electric set closer. The set ends with the picturesque "Bird Song/Ripple." Both songs went missing from the Dead's repertoire in the early 70's and were revived for this special acoustic set. "Bird Song" stayed in rotation after this but "Ripple" would only be dusted off for special acoustic events, except the 9/3/88 Make a Wish night.
The "Friend" features a rousing electric piano solo by the newbie Brent Mydland. The crowd gets introduced to him by Bobby earlier in the evening, as he is thanked for bringing his Harpsichord for "China Doll." This is a new sound that the Dead is getting to play with. The last couple of years Keith would play his grand piano almost exclusively during the night. The first set ends with an absolute bang with "Jed/Let It Grow/Wheel/Music." The "Let It Grow" comes storming out of the "Jed" as "The Wheel" appears for the third time in a first set, and the last time. Then the steaming "Music," which Garcia emulates the "Cassidy" double note solo, as they close out the hot first set.
The band starts the second set popping version of " Scarlet/Fire." The transit jam is fluent yet spacey, as Phil entwines his baseline around Garcia guitar work until they drop the hammer on "Fire." The dark preachy "Estimated" falls next in line. The keen listener will pick up on a JGB tease at the 7:50 mark of the "Estimated," where Jerry plays the line "Picks up the rice where the wedding had been" of "Eleanor Rigby." From there the jam slows as they slide into a "Terrapin" that is a little sluggish. The remedy comes as the band vaults out of the "Terrapin" and into the "Playin'." The jam feature some great interplay between Brent's Electric Piano and Jerry's guitar.
"Miracle" springs out of "Space" and there is a bit of an awkward transit and the band jumps into "Uncle John's." There is a lot of life in this "Uncle John's" and as the song concludes the key of D enables that they can progress into "Dew." There is a lot of soul in this "Dew," and although short the end jam starts dim light and flowers into a shinning star. The music continues into the abyss as the final notes are sung, as it envelops into the conclusion of earlier "Playin'." It would have been enough to end with the rocking reprised, but Bobby caps the set off with "Good Lovin'."
As the band leaves the stage, Bill Graham goes to work. Bill was very touched by the intimacy of the venue and the special acoustic set and the memorial for past 15 years of shows, so he decided to show the band his and the audiences appreciation. Bill had waiters distribute champagne flutes to every audience member. As the band returned to the stage, the audience raise there glasses and toasted the Grateful Dead for all the years combined. 
On the Audience version, you hear Jerry get really moved by the toast as he saids, "You people are too much, too much!" This is unfortunately cut from the soundboard recording. Garcia is right, it's "Too Much," and the double up the encore this night. So when your friend says that you missed them riding a hot dog into the show or missed people dropping from the ceiling, you know that it isn't the coolest thing, because this was the coolest thing to ever happen in Rock 'n Roll.
This print is available for purchase at Wolfgangs Vault, and this is the only Dead picture that I have in my dining room, although I have other pictures throughout my house. I always felt that this picture of this epic moment is the perfect setting for the entertaining of one's guests.
I'd also like to wish my former roommate from Lake Tahoe and very happy wedding day.

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