8/27/72
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Grateful Dead reviews of 8/27/72 - Veneta

 

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Grateful Dead reviews of 8/27/72 - Veneta

The Grateful Dead
Old Renaissance Faire Grounds - Veneta, OR
8/27/72 

Set 1: Promised Land, Sugaree, Me & My Uncle, Deal, Black Throated Wind, China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider, Mexicali Blues, Bertha

Set 2: Playing In The Band, He's Gone, Jack Straw, Bird Song, Greatest Story Ever Told

Set 3: Dark Star > El Paso, Sing Me Back Home, Sugar Magnolia, Casey Jones, One More Saturday Night

The Best Ever? 
Purportedly one of the Great Shows, and in many opinions the Best Ever. Let's see why:

First & foremost, the 'Dark Star'. Rare it was for them to begin a set with 'Dark Star' by this time; soon enough it would disappear altogether. This one is notable for its purity: like the the first 'mature' performance from 2-27-69, it is all of a piece -- no side jams, interpolations of other songs, etc.; it's purely 'Dark Star' jams and nothing but. Also, the boys were well into the group-groove mindset that is so crucial to good shows, but more on that later.

So: alright, it's long & unadulterated. What else? Lack of ego, for one; this performance develops so 'organically' that it sounds like each performer is simply thinking out loud, playing the way they happen to play, and it all just magically interweaves & supports itself -- like a house built in the air. There is a gentle sense of religious purpose in the pre-verse jam, but things change after the first 'chorus', becoming more urgent. The arc goes consistently up, as the energy becomes more disjointed, without ever seeming to lose control.

Furthermore, the performance only builds in intensity as they go along -- meandering it is not, though it ebbs & flows. By the time it's over, it's as if we've had an overview of Star history with all the best parts highlighted. Some Stars have parts that rank among our favorite moments; 8-27-72's Star is like a compilation of these, seamlessly stitched & perfectly arranged. We even get a very faint hint of a 'Groovy' jam [by Phil] some 10 minutes after the first chorus, though it's not picked up by Jerry. Such are the delicious subtleties buried in the overall tapestry.

Eventually we'll get a Tiger jam, and even something of a Philo stomp, though there are longer or more intense versions of either. But analyzing the parts isn't a way to understand how a body functions; suffice it to say this performance TRAVELS and then some, with nary a wasted moment on the way. When they seem about to arrive, Jerry hints at a 'Morning Dew', but joyfully tosses it away to follow Bobby's suggestion of 'El Paso' as the whole band jumps on the bandwagon. As silly as this seems to some, it brings some welcome levity after the heaviness that had preceded it, and they drift afterward into a fine 'Sing Me Back Home'. HERE we find the real release from all that 'Dark Star' tension -- slow, sweet, and elegiac.

Was the whole show like this? Well, no; the first half-a-dozen songs from set one could be the beginning of almost any late 1972 show -- and perhaps better versions abound in the shows that followed over the next four months. - Until the transition jam in 'China > Rider', that is; because that's where this show takes off and never loses the magic. Was it the venue? The extreme heat? Something in the water? All of the above? Everyone has their own view, but nobody can deny that, from C>R through the Dark Star segues, this show ranks up against any & better than most.

After that, it's just the party music to close the show, finely played & certainly welcome. Only in 'One More Saturday Night' do we hear them wearing down (some flat vocal harmonies), and really -- who cares by then? It's the second encore after three sets, culminating in one of the most expansive & profound jams of their history. If ever there was an answer to 'What are the Grateful Dead, and what kind of music do they play?', it can be found here.
Ramble On Joe

Review of the Grateful Dead's concert performance on 8/27/72, at the Old Renaissance Faire Grounds in Veneta, OR.
Grateful Dead reviews of 8/27/72 - Veneta

 

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