Boston Music Hall - Boston, MA
Boston Music Hall - Boston,
Set 1: Cold Rain &
Snow, Cassidy, Scarlet Begonias, Music Never Stopped, Crazy Fingers,
Big River, They Love Each Other, Looks Like Rain, Ship of Fools,
Set 2: St. Stephen >
Eyes Of The World > Let It Grow > Drums > Let It Grow,
Brown Eyed Women, Lazy Lightning > Supplication, High Time,
Samson & Delilah, It Must Have Been The Roses, Dancing In The
Streets > Wharf Rat > Around and Around, E: Franklin's Tower
6-9-76 Boston AUD
Well, here's an opportunity
to exercise our prejudices: first, it's an Audience recording, so
many will demote it already. An exception could be made if it was
regarded as a landmark or classic show, but it is not. Then, it's
not from one of the more-appreciated years; some will dismiss it
simply because it is after _____ (fill in cutoff year of your own
choosing). Fans of the later Godchaux era already know that its best
shows are in 1977 - 1978; even those who enjoy 1976 will often skip
to the July or later shows. Then, 6-9's not even the most popular of
June '76 shows, overshadowed by June11th & 12th, its fellow
dates from Boston.
This Audience recording has
a very clear sound. We're definitely out in the audience, though;
the enthusiasm of the nearby fans is loud and frequently expressed,
the sound is echoey, and Phil is not so readily heard without some
boost to the 125k band. This is largely due to the loudness of the
bass drums, more prominently here than on the SBD (which is
typically not so kind to the percussion). With these nuisance
factors, you might well stick to the Soundboard; this is not one of
those brilliant AUDs which you'd spin to convert die-hard SBD
traders. Still, the band sounds great: the piano and guitars are
very clear, and the vocals blend more nicely than we hear on
My reasons: completion
& perspective. All four Boston '76 shows circulate as warm but
dry soundboards (except maybe 6-9's first set; I have set 2 only).
With "Cold Rain" "Cassidy" and
"Scarlet" to start, that first set seemed a shame to miss.
And while there's no denying the in-your-face clarity of
Soundboards, they give little sense of room sound and audience
response; I didn't warm to June '76 until I heard some AUDs. Only
there do we hear the out-of-their-mind gleeful joy that
characterized the audiences; the band themselves must have been
grinning most of the time, glad to be back to what they did best.
6-9's first set proves
indeed worth the getting, as "Scarlet" shows the mix
nicely settled. Not that Jerry hadn't added some nice lines behind
the vocal in "Cassidy" which I haven't noticed in later
versions; "Cold Rain" also had Bobby providing nicely
guitar interplay. Donna's improved harmonies are wonderful. But the
mix either had the piano a little loud or too soft, and Jerry's
vocal was a little low. By "Scarlet" all is well, and with
"Music" and "Crazy Fingers" to follow, I can't
say there's much danger of us getting bored.
Unlike the sterility of the
SBDs, the room enhances Jerry's sweet tone, as his piercing lines
swoop and soar on this all-too-short "Music" performance.
This, more than anything, is the cherry on top of a decent AUD;
listen to almost any show's Soundboard after becoming accustomed to
its AUD version, and its like examining a animal in a box instead of
its natural habitat. Sure, you can get up real close; you notice
many details not apparent from a distance. But if you want to see it
as it really is, you have to let it run free.
In this case, it means
"Crazy Fingers" has nearby members of the audience talking
throughout. But they aren't so loud you can't hear the band, and (if
you'd really been there) they probably would have shared some food,
or a smile, or a joke; later, they'd dub you a copy of some 1970
acoustic sets. How can you ask them to be quiet?
More to the point: there's
a greater sense of the "show" energy. Intellectual
evaluation is one thing, but this band was always more about
visceral impact; "Big River" is a crowd-pleaser and it
very much shows, with Jerry firing off his usual banjo-style solos.
"They Love Each Other" is the mid-tempo arrangement, not
nearly as slow as it would be later, and sounds great.
"Looks Like Rain"
features a wonderfully trilled solo from Garcia, and Keith plays his
most maudlin lines behind Bob and Donna's harmonies; the audience is
most appreciative. I might have to put this on my list of favorite
LLR's (along with 4-11-72 and 7-3-88).
"Ship of Fools"
is as languid as ever, yet doesn't have the nearby people talking
like they did during "Crazy Fingers" -- maybe it was more
familiar? Keith's piano rules again, just as it does on the
"Promised Land" that finishes the set.
Now we're into the second
set, which I've previously heard as a Soundboard. As usual, the
Audience version is more exciting, pumped up by the ecstatic cheers
and whistles all around. "St Stephen" is just what they
want to hear, and Phil seems more audible than in the first set.
Once again, the room is sympathetic to the crackling percussion and
Jerry's sweet tone.
"Eyes" finds a
Phil solo interlacing with Jerry's lines in the intro. There's
something very summery-sounding about June '76 AUDs to my ears;
dreamy lines float and hover. The chord sequences heard to follow
"Eyes" in 1973 precede it here, and the audience is
quietly rapt. 1976 shows some its unique magic here, as the band
deviates far enough from the "Eyes" mood that it seems
they might actually not actually play the song (!). As it is, eight
intriguing minutes pass before Jerry sings. A illustration of just
how nice this AUD sounds occurs about 15 minutes in, when a
one-minute SBD patch occurs; suddenly the sound becomes duller and
closed-in (although the bass is louder). Although an important patch
(Phil takes a solo), the return to AUD at 16 minutes is an auditory
relief. ("Lazy Lightning" suffers a similar flip).
shouts a fan, and the band essays a "High Time" revival.
Nicely done, and statistically the rarer song, but I wonder how many
"Samson" sound early or what? The percussion is lively and
fast, but not always certain as to when Bobby's going to sing
another verse in the early part of the song. Lots of thumpy bass
drum here, which is not as well represented on the SBD. Meanwhile,
Jerry and Keith are all over this performance Sure is nice to hear
Jerry loud and bright!.
"Dancin' in the
Streets" doesn't benefit so much from its AUD recording;
perhaps the Boston audience didn't really warm to this. "Wharf
Rat" gets some appreciation, but Jerry's choice to play it
sublime makes us want to move in close; I think the SBD does this
better justice. The double-timed "Around" is a nice rock
& roll sendoff, and sounds so much better with the hall sound.
The band comes out for the
encore, and someone shouts for "Help on the Way!" ... a
little ambitious for an encore, you think, but then the band plays
"Help's" second half, "Franklin's Tower," and
they really burn it! Hmmm, maybe they heard him?
Ramble On Joe ©
the Grateful Dead's concert performance on
6/9/76, at the Boston Music Hall - Boston, MA