Set 1: Feel Like A Stranger, Sugaree, Minglewood Blues, Ramble On Rose, Black Throated Wind, Jack A Roe, Cassidy, Don't Ease Me In
Set 2: Scarlet Begonias > Fire On The Mountain, Truckin' > Terrapin Station > Jam > Drums > Jam > The Other One > Wharf Rat > Sugar Magnolia,
E: U.S. Blues
Having come to appreciate DP9 more and more over the years -- and
having been awed by the amazing 9-20-90 that followed it -- I
wondered about the rest of the run. Surely, I thought, there must at
least be enough gems to compile (a la DP-7). So I dived in, and
here's what I found:
First up, 9-14-90. This is the odd duck of the group, in that
Vince is still the sole keyboardist. Immediately, the ear is greeted
by audience sounds ("Who's the new guy?" wonders one fan),
and yet the band sound is tremendously clear. Is this a Matrix? Or
just the world's best Audience recording? Whichever; the sound is
full, and yet there are clearly people nearby; the listener is in
the midst. This detracts not at all from the band -- even when two
people seem to be in heated discussion off to the right.
"Stranger" flies well all the same, not at all hinting a
need for an additional keyboardist. "Sugaree" skips and
flutters, although it's not Jerry alone but the full band that gives
the necessary ebullience. Yes, for better or worse, this is a truer
representation of what you'd hear at the show than a soundboard
The second chorus of "Sugaree" improves, as Jerry takes
flight and Vince takes a chance or two. Not winning points with that
rinky synth sound, but then he resorts to some simple but supportive
piano. Better ....
Meanwhile, the audience is wild with joy: just to be in the
presence of this most joyful of bands, despite going through yet
another seemingly unfair tribulation. As if sensing this, Jerry and
Vince lay down some money trills: not the culmination of long,
exploratory improvs, but a hit all the same to those present. In
fact, they're singing along, which becomes apparent on the third
verse when Jerry waits extra long to form the last phrase -- we can
already hear it echoing around MSG. This was not the quiet venue it
was in March 1981. The excitement is so palpable, they're almost at
maximum even between songs.
Sensing this, Bobby brings up "Minglewood". Man, could
you imagine stepping into this band at this point? The expectations
clearly run high. Vince seems more comfortable here, tinkling
appropriately. Bobby is comfortable with his slide licks. I haven't
heard this song in a while, so I'm open to its robust and visceral
rambunctiousness. Vince isn't magnificent, but he's game, and the
audience roars approval at the group jam that precedes the "T
for Texas" chorus. Vince attempts some organ touches on the
final chorus, but pleases us best by mostly staying out of the way.
Good call, Vince; after all, this is New York City.
The audience quiets down a bit now; they've had their first
blood, and are willing to settle out. A few chordal stabs, and it's
"Ramble On". If Vince had the charts out, he's not
sounding like it; he's got plenty of input. Naturally, the audience
pops for mention of their own city, but that's just the surface:
they sing along on the chorus with roaring gusto (and any other line
they fancy). I'm surprised Jerry doesn't just let them take it. Nice
envelope on the solo, but then he adds synth sax as well?! It almost
works -- especially since Jerry takes four choruses. Hell, maybe it
does work. With an audience like this, it's a lot like trying to
describe a hurricane while it's happening.
Bobby knows where he wants to go next, and it's the revived
"Black-Throated Wind", which the audience clearly
appreciates. Rather fast, but Bobby doesn't seem to mind. Vince
chooses a rather chimy sound -- I want to say "as usual",
so there you go. Vince evidently is not one for sounds of depth and
conviction, which has been the main complaint of the fans who aren't
satisfied with him. This slows down Bobby & Co. not one whit, of
course, and BTW is a fine if somewhat perfunctory performance.
Audience reaction: satisfied, but not necessarily impressed.
Next: an electric "Jack-a-Roe". If I recall right, the
last one was also MSG in 1981 (time to check Deadbase!), and both
Vince and Jerry do a decent but not stunning job. Vince essays a
sort of faux violin sound, which improves as the song goes on. Jerry
picks in his typically conversational manner. After the song
concludes, we are treated to some typical audience banter: a
combination of jaded excitement and fannish enthusiasm. Just like
being there :-)
"Cassidy" elicits a small roar, either of confirmation
or recognition is hard to say. Bill and Mickey seem to be dueling it
out on the high hats. Vince sings the harmonies, which vary in
volume through the song -- I guess Healy finally decided to turn him
up. The jam owes more to Mickey than Vince, but Jerry soars all the
same, and very nicely at that. In fact, Jerry very much seems to be
at full speed in a way we haven't heard earlier in the show, and the
New York audience knows it. The jam winds up, the last chorus is
sung, and those rowdy New Yorkers are almost quiet for a minute
before erupting in recognition of another fine performance.
The boys don't wait, however, and "Don't Ease Me In"
takes us out. New York shows real appreciation for Vince's tinkly
organ solo, but Jerry again proves the real icing on the cake. Hey
Vince -- a real Hammond B-3 makes the difference :-)
Loading up the next disc, I momentarily realize my good fortune:
to be able to put in the next disc, to hear the whole show. It's all taken for granted these days, and rightly so. But -- boy, do I
remember when it wasn't! This is great, I say to myself. Then, of
course, my computer glitches and won't play the disc. I change
programs and off we go.
Set two, and those in attendance are understandable delirious.
Jerry starts tuning, and hints a bit of "Scarlet"; now
they're insane. A pause and they calm adown, but the promise is as
good as delivered, and "Scarlet Begonias" begins the set.
Again, we can only wonder how Vince might have felt, to be faced
with a New York audience, playing "Scarlet Begonias".
Maybe he thought it wasn't any different from any of their other
songs -- easier, even, than playing some (like
"Terrapin"). But in the non - "Dark Star" years,
"Scarlet" -> "Fire" was about the most
jamming sequence in the repertoire. If there was any part of their
show where it truly *mattered* whether the keyboardist could pitch
in on equal footing, this would be it. And in New York! ---- Well
So how does he do? Not bad, actually. He chooses one of his
rinkier sounds, but it isn't inappropriate, and he plays notes that
dovetail nicely with Garcia's. Not a bad start, really, though it is
really Phil who directs the bridging sequence (but isn't it
"Fire on the Mountain" surprises by quickly slowing
down from the rather manic pace bequeathed it from
"Scarlet". The audience applauds Jerry's "Fire"
sound as if they were surprised, which they could hardly be.
Delighted, then. When Jerry starts singing, the audience is
predictably right there with him. Vince fills in behind the first
solo with the kind of synth sound we might have expected on the reggae albums of the same name (which, come to think of it, had not
yet been made). This hardly matters, though, since Jerry is
typically flat-out brilliant: flying, gracefully arcing, darting in
and out of tapestries of sound, while Phil underscores and Bill and
Mickey emphasize. Bobby finds ways to add more or less without
detracting, but Vince hasn't, and has to cut off to let Jerry sing
the next verse. No matter; another verse and chorus, and they're
soaring again, regardless of whatever VW might or might not add. At
this point, I can hardly think of anything to add -- this band is
red hot on fire! Phil throbs! Jerry trills! Mickey pounds! And then
they bring it right back down, and the audience know *exactly*
what's what, and how good it is. Vince puts in a very nice "bringdown
solo" here before the third verse/chorus, showing us just why
the band considered him a good investment. The third verse and
chorus prove as enjoyable as ever, and the band moves and grooves in
celebratory hallelujah, despite Vince's efforts. The
"Scarlet" riffs wraps it up, and the audience says thank
you. That's how it goes!
And so it's time. Time to move on; time to move up. Time to be
"Truckin'" on. And the groove begins. Oh yeah: it's also
another "New York" reference, which is much appreciated
for some reason by Manhattanites ;-) "What a long strange
trip", indeed ....
In my own experience, "Truckin;" was never a favorite
song; it was more like hearing the band play the song that happened
to get the most airplay a long time ago. Of course, that was before
"Touch of Grey" went Top 40. Still, I remember the lights
turning out to shine on the audience during the "Sometimes the
light's all shining on me" part, so I assume they were still
doing that in 1990. Very effective in person, I might add. On
headphones, though, the most effective part is the trill-and-thrill
buildup at the end, which is done here as well as anywhere, and
better than most. In fact, despite the horrendously fast pace, the
band jams on the "Truckin'" outro for some time, as Jerry
goes through a series of sounds: octaved, overdriven, then clean as
Phil starts to wander -- though Mickey maintains a shuffle on the
cymbal. Vince follows Jerry into 4/4, prompting Jerry to venture
into MIDI sounds and even a little feedback. Thus ensues a different
mood (call it "Jam"), which takes a few minutes, but then
resolves into "Terrapin" .... say, didn't I mention that
song a couple paragraphs ago? Well, I'm sure Vince was prepared! :-)
"Terrapin" isn't a song to venture into without
preparation, and Vince sounds totally ready. Good for you, Vince!
He's right on it. Jerry's vocals sounds a little rough at first, but
he settles in; after all, he chose it! "Scarlet - >
Fire", and then "Terrapin"? Not exactly giving Bobby
much time at the mike ....
Jerry solos confidently on the "Terrapin" interjam --
even brilliantly; it sounds like the band could go almost anywhere
as Jerry and Phil exchange musical notes. But "Terrapin"
continues, and wonderfully. "Inspiration / move me brightly
..." Bobby and Vince add wretched harmonies, and we're off to
the "Terrapin" outro: blazing, touching, intense. Once
again, this revolves largely around Jerry's choice of tone, an
Phil's groundwork with the drummers; they seem a little uncertain if
how to tackle it here. Eventually Phil wins (of course), and we find
ourselves deep into what was later called a post-Terrapin jam. At
this point, it could only be called ?!?!?!?! -- the thing that was
left after "Terrapin" was definitely over. Magical in
mood, it lasts about five minutes.
Drums suffers a severe cut of unknown duration, and we return to
find Mickey hard at play with the digital delay. Here, people talk,
which is too bad; Mickey is putting out some seriously deep drumming
to the heart of the edge of .... well, something. I guess it isn't
for everyone, but it's certainly the main thing for somebody
(besides Mickey). It ain't easy to make noise like that, despite how
it may sound :-)
Once Jerry joins in, things take a decidedly more 'jungle' sound,
and I find myself wishing the talkers would talk somewhere else. But
then: I liked the River Music album :-) Clearly, they didn't.
Fortunately, they aren't loud enough to obscure the music, but this
is one circumstance where the soundboard would be preferred.
Bobby comes out too, and things get weirder (or maybe just "Weir'd").
Phil may be there too; with this much MIDI, it's hard to say.
Whoever is involved, things sound VERY STRANGE. Which I happen to
like, but not everyone does.
Fortunately, for those people, "The Other One" follows,
which burns for several intense minute before Phil finally obliges
with the recognizable roll. Hey, whatever the people require :-)
This seems to help, for the band burns even more intensely after
that, and we finally reach the lyrics (altered, as usual, by Healy's
effects). In between verses, the band goes out of time, led mainly
by Jerry and Phil. While not as long as 1972 renditions, this one
still goes for a good ten minutes before we arrive at "Wharf
Rat": "Old man down ..."
Vince's harmonies must be commended here; the audience applauds
each line of "But I'll get back" [etc]. Jerry can't help
but try for a little more with support like that, and it's a good
effort here. Jerry's 'true to you' jam seems rather unsupported at
first, but the band falls in behind his earnest dedication, as he
dials in more and more preamp. Way to go Jerry! When things drop down
again, we actually have the audience clapping along on the
off-beats. Then Jerry takes a bit of a 'true to me' solo, but it's
more angelic and less fiery, which Vince seems to understand. Not
that it matters; Jerry cuts it short to introduce "Sugar
Magnolia", which the drummers don't quite seem to believe at
first, but soon fall in and all's well.
Obviously the show's about over now, so there's nothing left to
do but enjoy the Sugar Mags and get out. For some reason, the
audience gets a kick out of the line "While I sing to
you". Vince adds razor-clean harmonies, and the band goes to
the races on the outro. I don't know if anything visual is
happening, but there are periodic roars from the audience -- some
clearly wrought by Bobby, but others aren't so sure from the
What *is* clear from the auditory record is that the Grateful
Dead could still rock the hall in September 1990 and make the lucky
few in attendance very glad to be alive & present, which they do
here. There's an encore, but -- really -- this was enough :-)
Set 1: Touch of Grey,
Walkin' Blues, Candyman, Mama Tried > Mexicali Blues, West L.A.
Fadeaway, When I Paint My Masterpiece, Bird Song, Box Of Rain
Set 2: The Weight, Playing
In The Band > Crazy Fingers > Uncle John's Band > Drums
> Jam > Gimme Some Lovin' > All Along The Watchtower >
Stella Blue > Throwing Stones > Not Fade Away,
E: One More Saturday Night
Bruce Hornsby's first show
TOG: tempo a bit pedestrian. Slight intro cut. Phil positively
bubbles. Overall, a competent reading.
Walkin' Blues: Jerry's usual nailed-to-the-notes slide is a
highlight. Bobby takes a rhythmic co-solo along with Vince in a
Muddy Waters-type group solo -- very effective. Slapback echo on
Bobby's voice also good (as on W/oAN). Effective live fadeout - Very
Jerry's guitar sound suggests "Candyman", and so it is
-- after a nice little intro exploration. Vince's synth sound
reminds us of his success in an 80s band, though Bobby seems
determined to match him for strange sounds -- his guitar sounds like
a cat growl. Overall band dynamic is good. Bill seems to like this
one, and Mickey concurs during Jerry's solo. Phil underlines the
sadness of the lyric even as Bobby seems unwilling to let go of the
cat sound. Vince never wavers from his angelic synth sound, which
could be a lot more effective if it wasn't used for the whole song.
Vince switches to a synth violin, which promises more than it
actually delivers during "Mama Tried", but gives the
"Mexicali" riff some mariachi flavor. Here, Bruce's piano
finally starts to be heard, under Garcia's solo; until now, we
haven't heard it at all. Under Bobby's third verse, Bruce sounds
great -- filling just the kind of barrelhouse piano the song needs,
and capping off the end with a nice dash up the ivories. Yep, it's
Some tuning, and there's chanting out in the audience, though
it's hard to hear just what. "West LA Fadeaway" starts up.
Bruce isn't heard much in this song at all until he takes a solo,
and we get to hear what we've been missing. This prompts a good
reply solo from Jerry, and better things are clearly in the offing.
Vince provides very good accompaniment; it's not his fault that he's
mixed too loud. Slight skip near end.
Bobby's turn, and it's "Masterpiece". Phil figures in
nicely during Jerry's first solo, and Vince's synth isn't so loud as
before. Did you guess that this means no Bruce in the mix at all?
Man, you are sharp. You might know this song better than I do as
well, for it features a bridge section I have not heard elsewhere.
At the song's end, the sound abruptly disappears [as if for a
reel change], and when it comes back we are already hearing the
intro riff for "Bird Song". For the record, Vince plays it
along with Jerry, showing he'd done his homework. Bruce is also
audible at times -- faintly in the first verse. Phil is just
incredible, weaving supple inquiries in between the phrases like a
jester commenting on a king's court. Vince insists on continuing to
use the angelic sound where a piano would have worked better.
Fortunately, a piano appears about 5:20 in, and there's no question
who's playing it: Bruce prompts both Vince and Jerry to change for
the better, and Phil is right after them.
"Box of Rain" finishes the set; a nice sendoff.
It's another week before I get to set two, but here we go: a
quiet riff from Jerry, and they start up "The Weight" in
its last non-encore appearance. A perfect song for this era of the
band, and they rip in with creaky gusto. Bobby especially shines on
his verse, but everyone does well.
"Playing in the Band": Phil is especially bubbly. Both
Vince and Bruce hammer at piano sounds, though Vince soon shows his
typical preference for sustain and suspensions, while Bruce
underpins with a more active Keith-type commentary. Heading into the
jam, we find Bobby dropped low, so it's mostly Phil & Jerry and
the drums -- by no means a bad thing. Bruce soon makes his presence
known as well, and Vince tries his hand at some color. At times,
this is very effective. Bruce, on the other hand, is *always*
effective, and knows when to lay out.
I suppose Jerry does too, but that doesn't seem to be too often
;-) Building, swirling, even a little feedback -- Garcia always has
something that really works, and pours it into the general fusion.
The drummers find ways of charging in and retreating so naturally
that it's easy to overlook; it seems obvious, after the fact.
The PITB jam isn't very long, but it does not seem prematurely
ended when Jerry switches to the "Crazy Fingers" intro
riff. One quick organic transition later, and the suggestion is
turned into a done deed, voted and ratified by all involved. Smooth
and gentle, it's actually Bruce who provides some X factor during
the middle solo, jumping in and giving it a purpose that Garcia
quickly pursues as well. An auspicious pairing indeed. The outro
finds good contributions from everyone, and Jerry winds it down
nicely into "Uncle John's Band".
PITB > Crazy Fingers > UJB? Yup. Sounds nice too, and I say
that as someone who had spun portions of shows from both 1972 and
1978 earlier the same day. Clearly, it's not just a matter of era
preference or ignorance; the band is in good spirits, and is
enjoying good fortune. Bruce puts in some accordion, which perhaps
sounds even better for being mixed very low. Jerry's ideas for the
jam are mainly chordal and rhythmic, but he does get a minor flight
in before the last chorus. All too soon, though, they leave the
stage for the drummers -- and not really with a good launch, which
puts the drummers in the awkward position of creating their own. A
lot of pounding ensues, though I'm not sure for what.
Five minutes in, Mickey's gotten to the marimbas-and-delay deal,
and Healy sees to it that the stereo imaging is mind-boggling.
Mickey soon drops the electronics for some "heart of the
drum" exploration that seems to be focused on just one drum.
Strangely, this is more effective than all the louder drums that
preceded it. Then, of course, it's time for The Beam, and other
ominous digital noise; some don't care for it, but I remember how
powerful it was in person: vibrating the venue, felt as much as
heard, clearing all thought from the brain like a fresh ocean
I guess Phil found this equally intriguing, for he comes out to
help with digital-synth explorations of weird kinds. Jerry comes out
too, choosing one sound after another for the usual whole-tone
sequences he prefers for this part of the show. Bobby also putters
around with one sound after another; I suppose one Space section
from this era is much like another. Either you liked much of
INFRARED ROSES or you didn't, and most seem to fall into the latter
category. I liked it, and if this show wasn't used for it, it's
certainly of the same thread. VERY lively for a 'space' section;
Phil in particular stands out.
Somehow this leads out to the only post-Brent version of "Gimme
Some Lovin", which is adequately played -- fine, really -- but
suffers the lack of you-know-who; we wouldn't hear it again. Jerry
closes the song by hitting some scales clearly intended to alert the
impending transition, but this utterly fails to be smooth. Evidently
nobody got the memo, Jer ... Whatever: they pick up and move on soon
enough. Jerry in particular tackles "Watchtower" so
vociferously even Bobby seems hard-pressed to match his fire. Sadly,
the rest don't really seem to try, resulting in a largely tepid
rendition that is practically blood-spattered by Jerry's savage
playing -- until, ironically, after the line "the wind began to
howl", at which point the whole band seems to disintegrate into
-- what? some thematic vibe? Hard to say. Jerry pulls it out of the
ashes just in time to make us think it was planned all along (which
it may have been), strumming up "Stella Blue". Vince
provides most of the background, using yet another evocative synth
sound, while Bob and Bruce add minimal but effective decorations.
All told, a great ensemble performance, with everyone making great
choices. Jerry gets his pin-drop (rather deliberately, from the
sound of it; even the heavy-handed Vince lays off the synth at that
moment), and gives out a wonderfully heartfelt solo that finds even
the drummers fully involved. Who says drummers can't play ballads?
After this, the band moves to closing the show with the
all-so-common "Throwing Stones". Healy's got Bob's voice
going through a long delay on occasion -- faintly heard, but
effective. Bruce contributes some sparkling piano on the
instrumental break, and Phil is lively. In my opinion, this song has
always just gone on too long for the musical ideas contained in it,
but that doesn't seem to bother the band; they seem quite happy with
it. Predictably, they end it with a short run through "Not Fade
Away" -- one of my favorite Dead vehicles, and Bruce gets a
smokin' chance to shine after the second verse. Way to go, Bruce!
Jerry takes over, but chooses short phrases to encourage Bruce to
trade off with him, which he does to nice advantage. Not the lengthy
Jerry-a-thon of old, but a good and very tasty rendition all the
same, as Jerry caps it off with some thunderous trilling that pegs
the old heart meter. One more chorus, and you know the rest. And
that, as they say, is show biz :-)
As for the encore: well, it's "One More
and the first thing you'll notice is that Vince seems to have some
idea of adding his own touch -- in the form of rhythmic stabs during
the riff -- which really don't work. Uh, nice try, but, ah -- oh
Vince? VINCE!! Just stop it, alright? OK then; glad we got that
Set 1: Hell In A Bucket, Cold Rain & Snow, Little Red Rooster, Stagger Lee, Queen Jane Approximately, Tennessee Jed, Cassidy, Deal
Set 2: Samson & Delilah > Iko Iko > Looks Like Rain, He's Gone > Ne MSG Jam* > Drums > Space > Standing On the Moon > Luniatic Preserve Jam > I Need A Miracle, Morning
E: It's All Over Now Baby Blue
Naturally, this show is already familiar to these ears -- and
probably yours -- as DICKS PICK #9. If discussions on the lamentably
deceased Deadbase forums were any indication, it wasn't regarded as
one of the better issues in that series. After hearing the two
preceding nights, 9-16-90 comes into sharper focus than it does on
its own. The modern listener descends upon any given date like a
raptor on a flock -- we may choose of those that seem most choice
from a distance, uninterested in details or personal histories. We
want the cream, even the cream of the cream. And why not? The price
is the same, either way. And yet: each has its own unique qualities.
The 1990 MSG run is a rather joyful one, despite the double
tragedy of Brent's loss: professionally, for the band's music, and
personally, for the band members themselves. Having added Bruce to
Vince the night before, they were trying to find a new balance, a
new answer to their needs; this would be the show where they found
Things start out typically enough; Bobby forgets a line right
away in "Hell in a Bucket", so we know this is really the
Grateful Dead and not just a cover band. "Little Red
Rooster" features a roaring solo from Vince, but "Queen
Jane" is where things begin to happen -- benefiting from both
keyboardists and some fairly active fills from Mr. Garcia.
"Tennessee Jed" finds the new lineup working to good
effect: the band is positively punchy on the up beat, with Bobby
and Phil riding on Bill's snare beats; Vince plays around with a
faux violin sound, and Bruce plays call-and-response with Jerry's
It must be said that Bruce was earning his stripes, trying out
single-note melodies, block chords, chromatic runs, and
rock-and-roll trills with equal facility, seemingly able to
mix-and-match without end. Which, of course, is just what they
needed, and only underscores Vince's tendency to stick with one area
of the keyboard. On the other hand, Bruce (like Keith before him)
lacked the broader sense of tone color that made Vince so useful in
The Tubes; in retrospect, it's easy to see why the band kept both of
them rather than making a choice.
Many a later-era show ends with a strong "Cassidy" /
"Deal" punch; noteworthy here is Bill's punchy snare and
how Bruce's genuine piano outshines Vince's faux one. Fortunately,
Vince switches to synth organ for his solo -- not as rich-sounding
as the real thing, but there it is. Bruce follows with some
key-pounding of his own, and it becomes downright impossible to say
whose solo it is after a while, as Jerry and the two keysmen make a
lot of group noise together. Joyful and loud, they strike that
balance of noise and melody that characterized the Muddy Waters
band. Not the "best-ever" performance, but a sign of
things to come ...
There isn't SO much going on in the first songs of the next set,
but that doesn't mean there isn't anything to enjoy; these are fine
readings of "Iko", "Samson" and "Looks Like
Rain". But they necessarily pale before the heavy-duty exorcism
of "He's Gone", with Jerry pouring out his heart to the
naked public ear: "he's gone, he's gone / and nothing's gonna
bring him back". I guess this is my favorite rendition, because
I've listen to it over and over again -- it's the fulcrum for the
whole set, the corner on which all the rest will pivot & gain
strength. Bruce uses it to propel a pre-drum jam, but we must get
past the all-too-rote Drums > Space before the next chapter
This was the first "Standing on the Moon" to reach my
ears, and I wasn't too impressed; Jerry's decision to drag down the
tempo after the song was already in flight is not exactly an
ear-catching move, but evidently one he felt necessary. If we accept
and expect that, it's a fine performance otherwise, and ends with
the usual emotional charge -- bolstered by our memories of the
earlier "He's Gone", and perhaps piqued by our realization
that no Bobby tune intervened, breaking the usual cycle of
alternation; something is clearly going on.
This becomes even more clear with what happens next: Space -- the
real thing, not the premeditated mid-set break. Space, uncontained
and unexpected. Space, howling and gibbering because we've arrived
someplace incoherent, beyond words, unplanned and perhaps even
unwanted. There are no breaks in this; it's not Easy Street for
anybody. "Something's been lost," this moment cries out --
and "Dammit, it's Just Not Fair!" For one beautifully
horrible moment, we're back in the Acid Tests where it all began,
where emotion, beauty, and intensity melt together into one public
event. Of COURSE everyone is invited, everyone is welcome. Of COURSE
everyone is an attendee, but also a performer, a participant. And we
all want; we all need something. What do we need? We need -- a
Which, of course, is just what song erupts from this eloquent
mess. Bobby growls and rants, Jerry's guitar cries and swoops, Phil
thunders and cajoles. Bruce trills and Vince declaims, even as Bobby
comes in on the wrong beat; it doesn't matter, because they all fall
in just as if it had been the right one. There is no right or wrong
anymore; there's only light and darkness, and it takes all of them
working together to keep that darkness away. As in the days of old,
it's no longer just music to dance to -- the music takes on a
persona of its own, and the performance has become a psychological
battlefield. "I need a miracle / I need a miracle ..."
Maybe if they just play loud enough, and long enough, they might be
Oh sure: It sounds silly. And yet ... it just might have worked.
For, as the ending winds down, Jerry brings us through a seamless
transition right into "Morning Dew". And the crowd goes
berserk. "Dew" wasn't so common as it had once been; only
four had occurred in 1990 before this -- one only three shows
earlier, in Philly. Imagine yourself a New Yawker at this MSG run --
possibly just arrived from Philly, where you saw those shows -- and
getting "Dew" on top of what had already happened this
evening. It would be so much more than you could expect, and yet it
would make perfect sense: "He's gone"; "I'd rather be
with you"; that violent and unexpected space jam; "I need
a miracle" -- and finally, "I guess it doesn't matter
anyway". After all that, the encore would have to conclude that
"It's all over now, baby blue" -- it would just have to.
What else was there to say?
Ramble On Joe ©
Below are set lists for the
remaining nights. Perhaps we'll post reviews of them, stop
Set 1: Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo, Minglewood Blues, Loser, Picasso Moon, Row Jimmy, Desolation Row, To Lay Me Down, Promised Land
Set 2: Eyes Of The World > Estimated Prophet > Foolish Heart > Drums > Jam > The Other One > The Wheel > Sugar Magnolia, E: Knockin' On Heaven's Door
Set 1: Jack Straw, Bertha, Me & My Uncle > Big River, It Must Have Been The Roses, Stuck Inside A Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again, Help On The Way > Slipknot > Franklin's Tower
Set 2: Playing In The Band > Ship of Fools > Playing In The Band > Uncle John's Band > Let It Grow > Jam* > Drums > Jam > Goin' Down the Road Feeling Bad > Stella Blue > Around and Around,
E: Mighty Quinn
Set 1: Feel Like A Stranger, Althea, It's All Over Now, Ramble On Rose, El Paso, Brown Eyed Women, Greatest Story Ever Told > U.S. Blues
Set 2: Truckin', China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider, Women Are Smarter, Drums > Jam > Dark Star > Playing In The Band (reprise) > Dark Star > Jam > Throwing Stones > Touch of Grey,
the Grateful Dead's concert performances at Madison Square Garden
~ New York, NY, September 1990.