10/26/72
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Grateful Dead reviews of 10/26/72 - Music Hall

 

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Grateful Dead reviews of 10/26/72 - Music Hall Books

The Grateful Dead
Cincinnati Music Hall - Cincinnati, OH
10/26/72

Set 1: Promised Land, Sugaree, Me and Bobby McGee, Don't Ease Me In, Mexicali Blues, Bird Song, Big River, Box Of Rain, Tennessee Jed, Beat It On Down The Line, Brown Eyed Women, El Paso, China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider, Casey Jones

Set 2: Playin' In the Band, Deal, Me & My Uncle, Brokedown Palace, Truckin' > Jam > Dark Star > Sugar Magnolia, Sing Me Back Home, Saturday Night

Review
Today was a little different  at my job; we performed our monthly inventory, and that meant I would spend a great deal of time away from customers in the back room. Did I bring my little boombox and make the most of it? You betcha :-)

My choice of music included 10-26-72's second set -- one I've meant to spin for quite a while. All too typical for October '72, the sound is rather hissy and the levels a little low. It is also rather strangely mixed -- the drums and vocals are much more prominent than the other instruments, with the guitars generally lowest. This had me edging the volume up & down from song portions to jam portions, as the vocals were so much louder than the guitars. On the other hand, it gives Billy a much-needed showing as the drums are strong throughout. Go get 'em Bill!

As would occur again a month later, the set begins with PITB -- a good 24 minutes or so. It has been said that Fall '72 is the peak era for PITB, and this version covers some remarkable territory, including no less than a bass & drum jam and nearly a Tiger jam! From these two details alone, you may gather that this is one PITB that gets very near being a "Dark Star" jam. Having this at the start of a set certainly has us hoping it bodes more to come; what in fact follows are some decent but not stunning performances of "Deal", "Me and My Uncle" (oh yeah, that's what we needed right there!), and a rather valiant if unremarkable "Brokedown Palace".

At this point, you flip discs wondering if things are going anywhere, or was PITB as good as this set would get. They answer this by promptly starting (sharply on cue) into a very together "Truckin'" not so far removed from the mighty 5-26 rendition included on EUROPE '72. But five months has indeed made a difference, and the jam meanders in a different direction. At one point Jerry gets very bluesy, leaning toward "Nobody's Fault", but that's not where they go. It's hard to say just where they are going; the individual energies seem to be slowing each other down, as if tumbling & colliding is wearing them out. Perhaps this is one of those experiments that won't fly. There seems to be several ideas coming in for a landing, but among them your ear notices some familiar notes ... and then it hits you: "Dark Star" is being thrust into the cauldron, and we've moved to a new level.

As "Dark Star" goes, it is neither a great landmark nor a toss-off (although I did hear Bobby contribute the riff that would one day be used to lead off "Throwing Stones"!!). Those familiar with 1972 will tend to hear it as typical, which is high praise in itself. I didn't find this performance quite so significant or arresting as some others, but that may be due partly to the compromised sound quality; the quieter passsages tended to mix into the hiss. But there's no passing over the simple fact of its existence: "Dark Star" out of "Truckin'"? Did they really do that?! Yes, in fact, they did; it didn't work so well, as transitions go (which may be why we didn't hear it again), but it was awfully cool to hear. Meanwhile, the boys do spend the usual amount of time making the usual explorations: perhaps no farther or deeper than you may have heard elsewhere, but still worth hearing.

Then Bobby decides it's time to move on, choosing the even-then reliable "Sugar Magnolia" as their next ramp up. And 'ramp up' is what they do -- the outro jam builds enough steam that several opportunities to stop are passed over. 'Who could stop now?' seems to be the general mood, and I found myself creeping up the volume, not caring if the store manager should come by & find me bouncing in my boots, obviously not working. Fortunately for my career, it does stop eventually; even the reprise doesn't quite hit the same level. But that's all right; they got there, and that's what counts.

After that, we pretty much *need* Jerry to take us down with "Sing Me Back Home", and his singing is deliberately keyed to mining out the introspective, quiet side of the song -- interesting after the more passionate reading he gave it just two months before at Veneta. Jerry never was content to repeat earlier successes, and finds different shades to emphasize here. Another fine gem.

Then there's nothing left but for Bobby to send us home: "One More Saturday Night". As they dragged out the final chord in great rock&roll-trilling fashion, I turned up the volume one more time for my co-workers' edification (just in case anyone had missed anything). BANG goes the last beat with Bobby instantly tells the audience good-night 92 minutes after the set began. Gotta love a band that knows when it's over, but gives you the max right up to that point.

This was such a night. Amazingly, they scaled right up to the same nights the following night; must've been something in the Ohio water in October '72 ;-)
Ramble On Joe

Review of the Grateful Dead's concert performance on 10/26/72, at the Music Hall in Cincinnati, OH.  
Grateful Dead reviews of 10/26/72 - Music Hall

 

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