8/22/72
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Grateful Dead reviews of 8/22/72

 

Dick's Picks Volume 11 reviewSteppin' Out With The Grateful Dead - review

8/22/72

Dick's Picks Vol. 23 reviewRockin' The Rhein review

 
Grateful Dead reviews of 8/22/72

The Grateful Dead
Berkeley Community Theater - Berkeley, CA
8/22/72 

Set 1: Bertha, Greatest Story Ever Told, Loser, Black Throated Wind, Friend Of The Devil, Big River, Bird Song, Beat It On Down The Line, Tennessee Jed, Me & My Uncle, He's Gone, Playing In The Band

Set 2: Promised Land, Brown Eyed Women, Mexicali Blues, Truckin' > Drums > The Other One > Stella Blue, El Paso, Ramble On Rose, Not Fade Away > Goin' Down the Road Feeling Bad > Hey Bo Diddley, Not Fade Away

Review 
It was such a nice day, I thought I'd go out for a change. I had never visited 8-22-72, so I dropped in & was pleased to be seated immediately. The waiter brought the menu, and I perused what lay in store (details printed above). As you can see, many standard offerings, but a few promising ones as well.

"Any recommendations? How's the 'Bertha'?" It's always best to consult the waiter!

"Sorry sir; the first three songs didn't make it tonight. But most of the first set is fine; I particularly recommend 'Bird Song' and of course 'Playing in the Band'."

"What about 'Black-Throated Wind'?" I had to ask, it being the default opener.

"There are several nice contributions from the pianist, including some trills."

"Would you say that Phil was 'on' during this show?"

"That, sir, depends on one's own personal definition, but I can tell you that he takes a bass solo in the second set."

Well, that did sound promising. "Anything I should avoid or skip over?" I had to ask.

My waiter considered. "Nothing particularly stands out in 'Me and My Uncle' or 'Friend of the Devil'. Also, 'He's Gone' is missing all but the first minute or two. And the 'Promised Land' set-closer is a perfunctory get-off-the-stage number, evidently so the sound crew could take care of some technical trouble."

This convinced me that there was much worth trying. "Tell you what: I'll take 'em all."

"Very good, sir." He put away his pad, and my meal began: true enough, Keith's tinkling insertions were indeed the highlight of BTWind, and 'Bird Song' found him contributing even more so. Phil bounces around the sonic palate with some caution, neither dominating nor retiring from the mix. Billy, of course, suffered a lesser presence; drums just weren't miked so well in those days. Vocals are right out front -- not so common on 1972 soundboards -- with guitars right behind. I found the 'Beat it On Down the Line' and 'Tennessee Jed' to be adequate, although 'Jed' is a rather smaller protion than satisfies (there seems to be a reel flip); a few bites short of a good plateful. 'Uncle' was fine, neither too dry nor too sour, and possessed of decent dynamics (and another of the aforementioned trills), but nothing made me want to try it again. Similarly, FOTD is played well enough without really leaving any impression; the highlight might be Bobby's contributions.

Fortunately, 'Playing in the Band' makes up for all of these, with 'Bird Song' as its other figurative bookend; band interplay is richer and deeper, venturing farther now that they are more warmed up. Both of these I recommend without reservation -- one as the setup, the other as payoff. Sadly, as with 'Jed', a cut reduces our portion, but in this case what remains is quite satisfying indeed. If we are to describe Phil as 'on', that ignition would be said to start here in PITB, as Phil seems to take the lead even more than Jerry does. This results in rather more emphasis from Bill, and Keith follows on that like we more usually hear him follow on Jerry. In fact, Jerry seems more of a follower here, making for a nice blend -- a different spicing of what is often so familiar.

After enjoying the treasures of the first set, I felt ready for the second & motioned for the waiter again. "I see the second set starts with 'Brown-eyed Women' and 'Mexicali Blues'; shall I try those or just have the main course?"

My waiter shrugged. "I'm partial to BEW's myself, but I'll admit this isn't one of the more remarkable ones. 'Mexicali', on the other hand, really seems to benefit from the second-set energy. As for the main course -- well, it's one of our house specialties, and I'm certain you will not be disappointed."

Indeed, he was right; 8-22-72's second set features as its gem a 30-minute "Other One' done like few other restaurants can manage. This more than makes up for a standard-issue 'Truckin', as the band leaves behind the salad & heads for the sauce -- after a short drum solo, which clears the palate for all the spiciness to come.

And such a bubbly broth it is! Billy husbands an aggressive snare, prompting Keith to percussive commentary. Jerry, as usual, dances around the edge, tossing salt on this side, pepper on that, offsetting Phil's garlicky insistence. Bobby sticks to his stranger batch of herbs -- we're never sure what he's put in there, but our senses are surely affected in ways we can't measure. Too many cooks can indeed spoil the outcome, but they might also cook up something none of them could have quite expected.

From a strong come-on, our ears are gradually lifted into the delicate spaces between notes, as each chef makes sparser and sparser contributions. Bill finally stops altogether; we reach a taste outside time and space. Keith makes use of minimal dissonance; Jerry goes from muted cries to pinched comments; Bill responds with low-toned thrums. A quiet ballad could have started here; instead, Bill begins a rhythm that others attend & accentuate. Like 'Dark Star', they venture off into any direction that comes up. Some of them even have words ;-)

Almost by surprise, they return to the song what brung them, reminding us that 1972 isn't so far from 1969 (in case we'd forgotten). And -- sure enough -- the first chorus is followed by a Phil solo, with Billy closely attending him. Eventually, though, Bill drops out to let Phil take full reign of his Muse, of which there seems to be plenty: riffs, vamps, chords pour out of him until he reintroduces the 'Other One' theme, and the full band kicks in again. Things seem well set up for the second vocal verse, but Something Else seems to come over the band, and things start turning very freaky instead. Before we can even ask 'What the --?', they become lost in a slippery slope of sound; those familiar with the 'tiger jam' will find a close cousin here. The band that so recently seemed in impossibly close accord finds themselves in supremely consonant discord.

But not for long; Keith leaves first, and they almost reach more pleasant climes as a group. But something irresistible pulls them back, one by one, to the complications & investigations that seem to be the theme of this evening's fare. The second verse finally emerges, and it comes to a close so that a quietly fine (if young) 'Stella Blue' can be served. Very nice placement, and surprisingly mature for a song in only its tenth known showing, with plenty of sensitivity to dynamics.

I don't recall the rest of the evening's fare in detail, but the receipt shows a fine dessert in the Not Fade Away segues, washed down with a nice 'Ramble On' (and a seemingly misplaced 'El Paso'). Had it not been for all that 'Other' jamming, NFA > GDTRFB > Bo Diddley > NFA would be pretty darn close to an entree in itself. As it is, this medley serves as a final course, rounding out our evening with a bright & energetic finish. I'll have to visit this restaurant again!
Ramble On Joe

Review of the Grateful Dead's concert performance on 8/22/72, at the Berkeley Community Theater - Berkeley, CA.
Grateful Dead reviews of 8/22/72

 

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