11/14/78
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Grateful Dead bootleg reviews of 11/14/78

 

Dick's Picks Volume 10 reviewDick's Picks Vol. 18 review

11/14/78

Dick's Picks Vol. 25 reviewClosing of Winterland review

 
Grateful Dead bootleg reviews of 11/14/78

The Grateful Dead
Boston Music Hall - Boston, MA
11/14/78

Set 1: Sugaree, El Paso, Candyman, It's All Over Now, Loser, Passenger, Stagger Lee, I Need A Miracle

Set 2: Bertha > Good Lovin', From The Heart Of Me, Ship of Fools, Estimated Prophet > Eyes Of The World > Drums > Wharf Rat > Not Fade Away > Goin' Down the Road Feeling Bad, E: Johnny B. Goode

Review
11/14/78 seems to follow its brother's steps -- the opener cranks up, and you think "Hot damn -- it's 'Sugaree'!" -- and then you notice that it's rather too brisk a tempo. But it IS, in fact, a very long "Sugaree", and it IS in fact a mite too fast -- despite Jerry setting the tempo. I suppose it says something that he doesn't seem to notice, playing the same kinds of solos he did back in 1976-77, just a little faster. For the most part, I find myself wishing they'd cut down a bit and let it breathe, but at times it actually works just as it is, especially when Garcia goes for a trill. Otherwise, it's just too fast.

Bobby takes "El Paso" for his turn -- also rather fast, but this time it works. One of the better EP's, helped by Jerry's rambunctious guitar-playing. Spurred by this ditty of love & murder, Jerry answers with one of his own ("Candyman"), racking another one for the plus column.

"Love gone sour" being this set's theme, Bobby calls for another cover tune -- "It's All Over Now" -- for his blues romp. And that's pretty much as good as this set will get: "Loser" is a perfunctory run-through, rather faster than the song needs; "Passenger" makes some noise without really convincing us of any heat; "Stagger Lee" finds Bobby sliding rather more excessively than usual, and Jerry unable to push any gold out of his bandmates. "I Need a Miracle" is sorta fun as a sing-along set closer, but it seems like a short set where not much happened -- not helped by a long opener that seemed faulty from the outset.

Set two begins with "Bertha > Good Lovin'" -- the kind of second-set opener that suggests the band agrees that the first set didn't go anywhere, and needs to be done over. This largely succeeds, especially during "Good Lovin'" -- Bobby shouts & raves like a preacher on a stump, whipping the band out of its first-set torpor.

Next up is Donna's new tune ("From the Heart of Me") -- prettily played and clearly well-received by the audience, despite the lack of popularity it might have today. Jerry follows with "Ship of Fools", and it really pays to listen here via headphones -- the level of 'thereness' is HUGE on these quieter songs. People clap on one side or the other; Jerry grunts up some extra reserve, and appreciative woops are audible all around. The band sounds like they could erupt at any moment during Jerry's solo, but instead rein in their reserve, letting out the fire in little increments -- they're practically playing with us now, because it's apparent they could lay out some power if they chose to. Even Keith wakes up, giving us the occasional lively aside. Hey, thanks for coming to the show, Keith! ;-)

And so, like the previous night: we know, and they know, and we know that they know, and they should know we know. So, like, time to get it on, you know?

They do; Jerry's already adjusting the "Estimated" envelope effect while the audience applauds "Ship". Good heights are reached during the 'California' break, the Wolf guitar singing out loud and clear; Donna is neither straining nor flat on her harmonies. And then the song part is over, the band sailing into mystical waters ...

The audience makes no sound now; it's all Phil & Jerry, Bill & Mickey, Bob & a little Keith; it isn't overly long, but it's very nice to hear the spell they weave. And it doesn't really end so much as change into the opening "Eyes" vamp. This is probably faster than some would like, but not as fast as it would be in the 80s. They're in no hurry: they spend a couple minutes working out the mood before Jerry starts the first verse. In fact, I would say they've gotten hold of the Main Nerve that determines a Good Show -- it doesn't really seem to matter what song they choose to navigate; wherever they choose to go, they're still sailing. I hope it's as good a feeling for the band as it is for us in the audience!

Yep, it's there -- that sense of being effortless, that state of mind that doesn't know time or place, doesn't care about direction or date. After about ten minutes, they leave the stage to the drummers, who maintain the 'Eyes' rhythm a while (someone shouts for "Other One!") before going into darker territory. Well, this was when the whole 'drums / space' idea was still fairly new, and they *had* just been to Egypt two months before. Mickey gets some hand percussion going, and there's someone clanging on something metal while the audience makes jungle sounds. Jerry, naturally, is game for this, and soon joins in, somehow twisting the momentum without actually pushing it in any direction; like a parachutist on the last ten feet, they drop without effort into a beautiful "Wharf Rat", and the band is all there. Donna hits her harmonies so cleanly it makes the audience howl on the bridge; there's a pin-drop, and the band brings it on like a cement-mixer shuddering downhill. Jerry doesn't quite bring the lungpower to the 'true to you' line, so he makes up for it from his guitar, then pours on the pathos for the ensuing 'true to me' line later. Perfect it ain't, but it's certainly worth hearing.

Then Jerry suddenly cuts short the follow-up jam with slabs of power-chords -- what the ???? Evidently, he just couldn't wait to get to "Not Fade Away", and the rest of the band scrambles to get in place. Bobby roars, Donna wails, Jerry scrubs over the pounding throb of the rhythm section -- and the audience roars back. If, you know, you care for that sort of thing ;-) Probably the most thrilling part is Donna wailing clear & unstrained back to the audience -- you really have to hear it!

Meanwhile, Jerry is clearly relishing his granted wish, and starts the endjam typical of this song. It's a little different here, as Bobby begins to weave in with the slide, and Jerry makes room for him. The result is soon something of a duel [ha! only Bobby would want to do that]. After they get back to the second verse, they fade out to an audience sing-and-clap-along -- just like we came to expect in the later years, except here Jerry takes it as an opportunity to start up the "Going Down the Road" we'd normally expect. This lets the band rave out -- no doubt scraping off a little paint in the process -- and even prodding Keith to add some pretty piano touches on the outro.

The "Johnny B Goode" encore comes on so fast I suspect some creative mixing for circulating this show; the applause hasn't yet died out from GDTRFB. Ah well -- it sounds right all the same. Donna shouts encouragement to Keith for his piano break. Jerry follows with a chorus of his own, and I can't help thinking of the same encore gracing Winterland's send-off; it's all part of the same package, the same era coming to an end, but not yet entirely ended. On this night in Boston, they had their own version of Winterland's closing; they would never see this particular lineup again. Ramble On Joe

11/13/78 review 

Review of the Grateful Dead's concert performance on 11/14/78, at the Boston Music Hall - Boston, MA.
Grateful Dead bootleg reviews of 11/14/78

 

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