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