10/27/72
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Grateful Dead reviews of 10/27/72 Performance

 

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

10/27/72

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

 
Grateful Dead reviews of 10/27/72 Performance Books

The Grateful Dead
Veterans' Memorial Hall - Columbus, OH
10/27/1972

Set 1: Bertha, Mexicali Blues, Loser, Jack Straw, Big Railroad Blues, El Paso, Sugaree, Beat It On Down The Line, Brown Eyed Women, Box Of Rain, Black Throated Wind, Tennessee Jed, Me And Bobby McGee, Bird Song, Big River, Casey Jones

Set 2: Greatest Story Ever Told, Ramble On Rose, Truckin' > The Other One > Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo, Morning Dew, Tomorrow Is Forever, Promised Land, Deal, Sugar Magnolia, E: Uncle John's Band

Review Set 2
After an incomplete and miserable-sounding first set soundboard, the second set surprises us with a wonderful audience recording. Everyone is audible; the stereo imaging is clear. The room sound is warm and deep, safeguarding us from a cold autumnal night of Columbus Ohio. Turned up loud, this gives us a pretty good idea of what was actually heard. This is probably the best-sounding show from October 1972, and that 's something to be grateful for, as we shall soon see.

Things start modestly enough, as "Greatest Story" starts up not so much a statement as a question. This question soon seems adequately answered, and a confident "Ramble On" elaborates the details. Here we see some of the beauty of an audience recording; the line "Just like New York City" gets an appreciative pop from some distant portion of the attendees -- visitors from that city, one might suspect; NYC isn't so far from Columbus, and hardy fans might well have made the trip.

This is followed by a tuning break, and the audience is full of suggestions as to what to play. We've heard plenty of this before, but not always so well from within the audience itself. Somebody near the recordist is awfully bent on "Ripple", but he'll have to settle for a song from the other end of that album. First, though, Bobby has to caution some people not to stand on the piano [?].

Finally they start up "Truckin", and the audience claps along enthusiastically. This gets things moving, despite a reel change splice in the last verse. Well, better there than in the jam to follow, because it's a good one: Bobby's guitar comments on Jerry's lines, while Billy comments on Bob; I guess everyone's following Phil, with Keith possibly the caboose. They soon settle into a groove not far from an up tempo "Wang Dang Doodle", but refusing to settle down quite into blues; in fact, there seems to be some musical discussion as to just where they should go. Bill favors "The Other One", but doesn't get any immediate takers; the upshot seems to be something of a consensus to 'blues out' for a while with an Other end in mind. Like a dark ship in the night, they sail smooth and silent, purposeful but without stating the destination aloud. There is no captain. Keith suggests light reflected from swift-passing black-and-blue water. Here we find the heart of darkness that propels the set, beating quietly but surely; unique to this show, yet full member of the stream-of-conscious that draws us to these shows over and over.

This portion goes, as so many do, under no better name than "Jam" on a cassette card; this suggests so little, when Fall 1972 gives so much. Here we find reminders of that well-known post-Truckin jam heard on the EUROPE 72 album, but it's really a different experience here. Still, it leads to the same place, though it's a good while before we realize it. As the band swirls in and out of the Other One tidepools, the occasional sonic flaw reminds us how great this tape sounds for being thirty years old. Other shows are justly more popular, but how many great AUDs are there from 1972?

"The Other One" fills a unique niche in Dead sets; having first appeared in late 1967, it has never left rotation, surviving each change of style and regime. Here we find it rather shorter than some others from 1972, but no less deep -- and when can we really say it's begun anyhow? Five minutes separate Bill's first suggestion of it from the band's full investment. This version is especially interesting for its quiet middle jams that sound more like excerpts from that other great jam vehicle, "Dark Star", and the gradual shifts in power along the way. I'm not sure they ever do perform the second verse; things get pretty strange, and one might well wonder if anyone remembers where they last were.

Some members of the audience add animalistic cries of their own as the band downshifts, seemingly to "Stella", but ultimately to their new song "Mississippi Half-Step". This strikes the ear as logical -- a strange idea, perhaps, after the irrational abyss we've just visited, but there it is: a logical transition. Donna is not mixed very high, so her flat harmonies don't intrude as much as we might expect. Neither, however, does the band really soar; a delicate reading that glides gently.

Evidently this wasn't enough for Garcia, who pauses only long enough to check his tuning before pushing the opening notes of "Morning Dew" over the still-applauding audience. Oh sure, Jer; why wait? ;-) And of course, there is something primal in this; after all, "Morning Dew" is one of few songs that can lay claim to greater antiquity in Dead-dom than "The Other One", and fully its equal in primacy. Only 1975 can claim an "Other" but no "Dew".

But enough of these analytical thoughts; Jerry sings with a delicacy that the band fully matches, and we have a performance here that evokes E72 without trying to copy it. Better: the immediacy of the room sound puts us there, and every tender stroke is perfect. The midsong buildup is not massive, but the audience applauds its hypnotic perfection, and the gentle power of the denouement. From this Jerry & company build a gentle ascension, simultaneously familiar and new; Keith's fills sparkling while Bobby pushes way or another, like a sculptor molding clay. The climax is not so much heard as felt, and the audience knows it as well as the band.

This might have been the set entire; 78 minutes have elapsed since it began. But in that way peculiar to the early 70s, they continue with songs usually placed in the first set, and "Morning Dew" is followed by "Tomorrow is Forever" -- a pretty good rendition, it must be said, played straight and well done. Keith shows his familiarity with Hargus Robbins, and Donna's voice cracks only the last chorus, and then rather endearingly.

"Promised Land" follows more tuning, and the audience resumes the clapping they did for "Truckin". Is there anything wrong with a really good stomp? No, I didn't think so either. Once again, Keith steps in with some genuine heartland piano, this time by way of Jerry Lee Lewis, and Jerry takes out the last chorus. Strong but oh so short!

More tuning. Should they have left after "Morning Dew"? Maybe. But Jerry pulls a new rabbit out of the ol' hat, and introduces a late-second-set "Deal" that suggests new life. Bobby seems to agree, and ups the ante with "Sugar Magnolia", which proves exactly right. They've been playing it subtle all night, but the audience is now demanding more, clapping vociferously with the beat. Playing with this intensity, the band lets out slack, letting the audience pull ahead, but not too far ahead; if you want to catch that bull, you've got to keep your line taut. Building up chorus after chorus, they start to pull it back in, pushing both volume and tempo, until they've actually pulled ahead -- and stop. Sure, it's an old trick; sure, they've done it a billion times. But it's still a pleasure to hear it done right, and they do so here. I'm not sure how long they wait before starting up again, because almost any amount of time would not have been too much; the tension is set, the line is strong, and everyone is right where they want to be. In that hair-trigger situation, almost anything could happen and still be just exactly perfect. And, of course, it is :-)

For some reason, the band once again does not abandon the stage; I guess they just weren't too concerned about presenting "a show" on this evening. Well, hell, why not; there ain't nobody left but hippies and FREAKS by this time anyway. Whaddya want, ART? ;-) "Uncle John's Band" struggles as usual in the end-of-show placement it suffered in 1972; while this might seem right lyrically, it never really satisfied musically. UJB just doesn't sound like a show-closing song (at least not in electric performances). The audience participates all the same, clapping on the coda. This song was evidently Phil's suggestion, as we hear him play the UJB riff during the preceding tuning. Listen carefully, though, and you'll hear one of the guitars play the "Saturday Night" riff even before Phil suggests UJB. Sure enough, "One More Saturday Night" closes the show, and Bobby sounds determined to sing his final breath, much to the audience's delight. They close the song with all the noise they can muster, and the audience responds in kind; I can't even make out Bobby's closing remark. All in attendance howl and cheer until some classical music starts up -- at which their howls turn to disappointment. But who could blame them? :-)
Ramble On Joe

Review of the Grateful Dead's concert performance on 10/27/72, at the Veterans' Memorial Hall - Columbus, OH.
Grateful Dead reviews of 10/27/72 Performance

 

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