Capitol Center - Landover, MD
03/14/90 (Wed) Capitol
Center - Landover, MD
Set 1: Cold Rain &
Snow, Feel Like A Stranger, Good Time Blues, Mama Tried > Big
River, Loose Lucy, Stuck Inside A Mobile With The Memphis Blues
Again, Row Jimmy, Let It Grow
Set 2: Crazy Fingers >
Playing In The Band > Uncle John's Band > Drums > Jam >
Dear Mr. Fantasy > I Need A Miracle > Black Peter >
Lovelight, E: Black Muddy River
It's always hard being a
poor relation. 3-14-90 has several more popular or famous brethren:
3-22 was excerpted for the SO MANY ROADS box set, the Knick shows
from the following week were compiled into a GDM release, and the
very next night (3-15) was released in its entirety as a fundraiser.
3-29 featured the best guesting by Branford Marsalis. Compared with
all that, what could 3-14 have to offer?
Well, things start
inauspiciously enough; a fine "Cold Rain", a nice
"Stranger", a cool "Good Times", but then I'm
partial to those songs; others might not be. Bobby puts some real
spit into his cowboy pair, but they really hit the audience between
the eyes with the first "Loose Lucy" in 16 years; this has
the audience roaring like Hampton crowd did for "Dark
Star" five months earlier. Jerry really puts his lungs into
this song, which is not in his comfortable range; every note is hit
clean and strong, though he does miss a word here and there. This,
at least, deserved release somewhere.
Blues" and Jerry's "Row Jimmy" both have moments of
fun and embarrassment; the audience cheers Bob's lyrical lapse, and
the similar lapse in "Jimmy" doesn't really affect that
song. But it is evidently time to put up or shut up, for they close
with the third movement of the "Weather Report" suite,
"Let it Grow".
Jerry quickly turns to
trumpet sounds to accompany Bobby's declamatory singing -- the
hallmark of 1990 LIG's. Brent adds in similar synth trumpets, making
it an interesting challenge sometimes to figure out who's doing
what. But Jerry's clarion guitar solos leave no doubt. Mickey proves
his place in the band, darting around Billy's heartbeat rhythms.
Brent switches sounds seamlessly. For the first night of a tour,
this is sounding remarkably together! The band has no trouble
supporting Jerry's solo, whatever sound he chooses, and when he goes
for the lead-out riff everyone is right there with him -- "just
like a Swiss watch", as Bobby sometimes liked to say.
Bottom line: Strong
starters, at least one gem, a decent closing jam, and a lot of
promise. On to set two.
Starting off with
"Crazy Fingers" will never make anyone mad, but it also
sets a high standard for all that follows. Since they manage to fail
this on the bridge section (Bobby sings harmony to the wrong verse),
we can only hope for higher atonement in the post-jam; perhaps they
do, though it is not a long one. Then comes the sharp turn, and they
begin "Playing in the Band", and suddenly it occurs to me:
in Jerry's lifetime, they never released a decent live version of
this song (i.e., a current version that included a jam). In that
light, we can really appreciate what STEAL YOUR FACE or DEAD SET
failed to do; even WITHOUT A NET didn't address this. Only DICKS
PICK #1 showcased a PITB while the band still toured, and that
version was 20 years out of date!
You might think from my
meandering comments that this PITB didn't really satisfy, and I
suppose it doesn't quite -- they soon shift into UJB, making two
halves of a moderately decent sandwich. This is followed by an even
more interesting jam, and I do recommend it; for the Brent era, this
is pretty out-there stuff.
The same can't be said for
the drums, though they aren't dull -- just not really notable. The
space section is a little more heavy -- just the sort of thing we'd
expect for this era. Jerry bails first, and the result is a strong
"Dear Mr. Fantasy", which ends too soon for my taste; it
could have gone on for hours. A "Miracle " follows, with
good crowd response; Jerry takes us thru "Black Peter" to
follow. This is good, if typically not extended as much as it could
have been, and it's a fairly strong "Lovelight" that takes
So what was there to really
take us in? Mainly the breakout of "Loose Lucy", with a
decent LIG; then the "Crazy Fingers>PITB>UJB>jam"
pre-drums. Each part might be short, but still worth hearing.
"Space" is strong, if unfortunately cut by a reel flip,
and "Mr. Fantasy" is very good indeed. Finally, there is a
good "Black Muddy River" encore. Throughout, Phil, Brent
and the drummers provide the kind of interesting commentary that
makes for interesting (if not compelling) listening. A good start to
what would turn out to be a very good tour :-)
Ramble On Joe ©
the Grateful Dead's concert performance on 3/14/90, at the
Capitol Center - Landover, MD