2/7/69
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Grateful Dead reviews of 2/7/1969

 

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2/7/69

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Grateful Dead reviews of 2/7/1969

The Grateful Dead
Stanley Theater - Pittsburgh, PA
2/7/69 

Set 1: George Washington Story, Cryptical Envelopment > The Other One > Cryptical Envelopment > Death Don't Have No Mercy, Alligator > Drums > Jam > China Cat Sunflower jam > Alligator Jam > Caution (Do Not Stop On Tracks) > Feedback > We Bid You Good Night

2-07-69 review

After the fine sound of the Fillmore shows from the end of this month, we can't help noticing that 2-07-69 is rather hissy. But that's a small complaint: the sound is otherwise warm and well-balanced, and it's simply a fine show.

-- or rather two shows (an early and a late). We begin the first set with the announcer's lament that there aren't more people in attendance, and the band promptly play most of what would later constitute the LIVE DEAD album: Dark Star > St Stephen > The Eleven > Lovelight. It's a relatively efficient performance, probably just fitting onto one side of a 90-minute tape back in the analog days. Oh sure: efficiency isn't what we prize this band for, but these are surprisingly full performances all the same. I didn't feel at all cheated by the 15-minute "Dark Star" -- clearly a close cousin to the more famous performance from later in the month. "The Eleven" gets most of the jam time, but "Lovelight" isn't cheated. Arguably, this would be the perfect 45-minute intro for a newbie unfamiliar with 1969.

Set two begins with some humorous pandemonium: Our Favorite Weirdo [Bob] expounding on George Washington's teeth, despite the vocal dismay of his bandmates. Then the announcer wants to introduce the band, but they forbid it. Evidently he gives up, and the band launches the "Other One" suite. Once again, efficiency is the hallmark, but that doesn't mean they miss any bases. The "Cryptical" reprise slows and slides into "Death Don't Have No Mercy" -- an especially long version, considering this is only a 61-minute set. Afterward, the band tunes a bit, and we clearly hear Bobby strum up the first few notes of what will later be the "Weather Report Suite" (that song seemed to have a long genesis!), but it's just preparation for the "Alligator" that follows. "Alligator" plays its usual role as a point of departure for some double-drumming, and we hear why Duane Allman decided to form a similar band.

After seven minutes of this, the full band comes back for a modal jam, including two minutes of a "China Cat" jam. Instead of building up to the expected "Caution" explosion, the band seems willing to let the energy drop (was someone watching the clock?) -- except for Garcia. Taking the reins, he singlehandedly marches the drummers to the front and pitches them into battle. Mickey and Bill are quite ready for this, and give ans good as they get; for several minutes, it's a three-man parry-and-feint extravaganza.

Bob must have looked at Phil, and Phil at Pigpen; Pigpen might have shrugged. You can't fight Fate, right? Right. With a bang, they come back in, and "Caution!" would be the right thing to say to anyone in the audienceat that moment. Maybe somebody *was* watching the clock -- perhaps with good reason -- but how could you stop this? The good-time band that began with "Alligator" had morphed into what Crosby called the Great Love-Beast (or words to that effect); the ice-nine was in the water. Perhaps there are those who would step before a moving freight train, but there was nobody to stop this band at this point. As "Caution" collapsed into "Feedback" and more, I found myself thinking of Disney's Fantasia, where Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" is illustrated by the dying dinosaurs falling under the sun's undying rays. Bob & Phil echo the descending chords used in the "Rite" during "Caution" -- but to new effect: the Dead are joyously alive; Disney & Stravinsky used them in deathly finality.

"And We Bid You Goodnight" closes the show, and the audience is too stunned to even applaud for several moments. I think I know how they felt. :-)
Ramble On Joe

Review of the Grateful Dead's concert performance on 2/7/1969 at the Stanley theater in Pgh., PA.
Grateful Dead reviews of 2/7/1969

 

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