"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

Thursday, February 21, 2013

How Does The Song Go?

After playing a New Years run, the Grateful Dead decide to do it all over again. The Dead played three nights at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Stadium, which culminated with the the Chinese New Years on this date in 1991. Download an audience recording of the show HERE. It should be noted that These three shows were without Bruce Hornsby, who was off preforming the national anthem at the NBA All-Star Game with Branford Marsalis. This show was also a celebration of Vince Welnick's 40th birthday.
The Chinese Symphony Orchestra opened the show, and the Dead took the stage knowing that they had to top the opening act, "Help/Slip/Franks" started the festivities. They drop into the "Help" like a plane takes off from the runaway, as they smoothly transition into "Slipknot." The notes of the individuals layer the spaces in between and no one steps on anyone else's toes. Fitting together like a puzzle the seamless structured section drops into the dark abyss of improvisation jam. Masterfully Garcia build the band out of the dark section, here Bobby miscues the build but circles back around to get them all on the same page, to the bright "Franklin's." The song is it's normal bright upbeat raucous of time as we "Listen to the music play." Two other first set stand outs are "Stuck Inside a Mobile" and "Jed." The "Mobile" is perfectly sung by Bobby who doesn't a beat or a word. Then the "Jed" exemplifies the band's ability to play off the drunken vibe of the audience, as the song ramps up before ramping up again before the last verse.
The second set starts with dramatic "Playin'." The song's jam takes the band in to a circular whirlwind that vents them into a dogmatic key change. Like Dorothy this key change sweeps us off to the land of Oz, so we think as Jerry starts "Terrapin." But just as soon as we've been brought there we've don't find any Scarecrow, Tin man, or Lion, instead the floorboards drop out from us as the band keys into the "Uncle John's" reprise jam. Where have we gone? The Dead didn't often bail on songs. Woodstock's "St Stephen" is one were they get through two verses than bail because they skipped the second verse, so this is an oddity in a Grateful Dead show. Yet after begging the question "How does the song go," the band ventures back to that mysterious "Terrapin." The band seizes their missed opportunity and capitalizes on it with a spectacular progressive jam at the end of it. This 10 minute jam settles the band down and into "Drums," where the special guest Airto Moreira joins Billy and Mickey. Airto Moreira is a Brazilian drummer who was a member of Miles Davis band when he recorded "Bitches Brew." The three drummers mesmerized the audience as Dragon's Dance moved about the arena. You'll hear the Dance taking place at about the 5 minute mark of the "Drums." Airto stays on percussions as the band plays a rare post-space "Eyes." The last one was almost two years prior. The "Eyes" doesn't disappoint with Garcia showing off his precious guitar work on the song. There is an odd sounding transition into "Throwing Stones/NFA." Even though it is an excellent finish to a great night.
I: Help, Slip, Franks, Rooster, Loser, Memphis Blues, Jed, Promised
II: Playin', Terrapin, Uncle John's, Terrapin*, Drums*, Space*, Eyes*, T Stones, NFA, E: Knockin'
*With Airto Moreira

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If you are anywhere close to San Rafael, do not miss Phil's 73 birthday weekend. Phil will be joined by Jeff Cheminti, Joe Russo, Jackie Greene and Bob Weir for two shows on 3/14 and his birthday 3/15. Quite the line up for that little club!

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