"And the joint was jumping" as the final moments of 1972 ticked down the Grateful Dead welcomed in 1973 at the Winterland Arena. Fans that weren't able to get into the show were able to party along with the band on radio KSAN, which you can download HERE and HERE.
In a touch of irony, the band laments the loss of 1972, a fine year in Grateful Dead history, as they complain "Don't you let that Deal go down, no no." A very fine "BE Women" is followed by a sublime "Box" before the energetic "Jack Straw" dazzles the crowd. The radio DJ is afraid of the dead air that is created by the technical problems the band experiences after they play "Candyman" and starts chatting but doesn't stop until halfway through "El Paso." This is why pre-FM recordings are much preferred. Later when the the DJ starts describing the scene inside the venue and spilling the beans about David Crosby being seen backstage (and despite what he says, Bing Crosby is not David's father) at least there is some substance. The first DJ talk up is disastrous because he talks over the music, the second is bad because he gives away state secrets.
The first set featured jam is as usual "Playin' in the Band." The band attacks this with a ferocity of pirated sailors as we walk the plank. The deep waters of the "Playin'" and it's crescent current sweeps us out to sea till the reprise rift reaches for us like a lifeboat. Safely we are brought back. Then the band kicks out a "Casey Jones" with an extended solo that revs the engine till, "And you know that notion, just crossed my...miiind."
The second set starts with a "Promised Land" that restarts the Deadhead engine. This is followed by "Half Step," a song that has fully developed since it's beginning in July. The band takes it's time and builds the coda like a well trained engineer.
The set gets out of control when the band steers out "Truckin'." The roller coaster shifts and bounces our consciousness on the Phil Lesh bass lines. Up and then dropping our stomachs, every shift and turn as the drums steer the band into "Other One." The band lets Billy vent for a stretch and then Phil slides back into the groove, until one by one the guitars and piano pick up on jam. The band stays with the groove created by Billy and Phil as they shoot for the stars. When the reach the stars the whole thing explodes into pieces. The pieces are put back together one by one, till the realization of what was left behind is remembered. The band assaults "The Other One," as the careful guitar work of David Crosby can start to be heard post verse. In a matter similar to their recent album side D, they decent through a "Prelude" jam and into a touching "Morning Dew."
Bobby takes a moment to thank Bill Graham on behalf of the band, then serenades him by tuning up his favorite song. A magnificent "Sing Me Back Home" with some sly guitar rifting by Jerry is played next. This song would only be played 3 more times in '73 and then never again. Essentially it was replaced by the Garcia and Hunter "Stella Blue." So to not leave on a sad note the band rocks out the set with "Johnny B Goode."
I: Around, Deal, Mexicali, BE Woman, Box, Straw, Don't Ease, BIODTL, Candyman, El Paso, Jed, Playin', Casey Jones
II: Promised, Half Step, Big River, Sugaree, Truckin', Other One, Drums, Other One*, Dew*, Sugar Mags, Sing Me, JBG, E: Uncle John's, Saturday Night
*w/ David Crosby
Once again many thanks to Peter White (@pawhite) for creating images for this blog. Being that this year is being dedicated to special guests, I won't have anything till mid January, which as it so happens is the first time someone sat in on a formal Dead gig (not counting the weirdness of the acid trips.)