5/31/92
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Grateful Dead bootleg reviews of 5/21/92

 

Dick's Picks Volume 9 reviewView From The Vaul II review

5/31/92

Dick's Picks 17 reviewDick's Picks 27 review

 
Grateful Dead bootleg reviews of 5/21/92

The Grateful Dead
Cal Sam Boyd Silver Bowl, U.N.L.V. - Las Vegas, NV
5/31/92

Set 1: Help On The Way, Slipknot, Franklin's Tower, Minglewood Blues, It Must Have Been The Roses, Queen Jane Approximately, Bird Song, Picasso Moon

Set 2: Scarlet Begonias, Fire On The Mountain, Women Are Smarter, So Many Roads, Saint Of Circumstance, He's Gone, Drums, Jam, Attics Of My Life, Spoonful*, The Other One*, Morning Dew*, E: Baba O'Riley*, E: Tomorrow Never Knows*

Review
Later eras are often approached with some trepidation, at least by me; I don't really expect them to be any good. This is understandable, of course. We all know that Jerry's abilities declined in later years, and 5-21-92 is very close to the date that Bruce quit in disgust with Jerry's slacking. But perhaps Bruce's frustration was due to the fact that the band could just as easily rip out a good one, which seems to be the case here.

First, it starts out rather like DP-17's 9-25-91 beginning: Help / Slip / Franklin, a Bobby blues, 'It Must Have Been the Roses', 'Queen Jane' ... I enjoy a H/S/F start; it's like getting a bit of set two right away :-) In these later years Jerry seems to have trouble getting those fingers going (stage fright, methinks; that huge sea of faces filling up a stadium must be horrifying), and we can thank Vince for making sure the riffs get played right. Slow fingers, of course, is the not-so-good part of an H/S/F opener. Somehow, though, I just can't bring myself to complain; Jerry seems to remember more of the lyrics than usual, and 'Slipknot' provides a nice dose of mystery; by 'Franklin' he's smooth-sailing up & down the fretboard & wailing out the choruses in fine form.

Next up comes a surprise: in 'Minglewood', Vince rips out an organ solo as good as any ever heard. Here, I think, we find the crux of the Bruce years: Bruce was clearly the right guy for the key seat, but he's a piano guy; even his accordion playing is rather staccato. And they'd been down that road with Keith; they wanted more tone color. Yes, it's a little dense with two guys. And Vince did play better without having to compete with Bruce. But there is a lot to be said for having both -- especially when Jerry was so willing to let Bruce take the riffs & fills.

'Bird Song' doesn't seem to be going well when Jerry forgets the lyrics, but this turns out to be a long & thoughtful performance. Strangely, the climax seems to come in the middle, and I don't particularly object to that -- it's a nice change from what became a standard format for later Bird Songs, inevitably climaxing in the same riff. 'Picasso Moon' is exquisite bad-mix torture, because someone forgot to turn Jerry up; you can just barely hear him, furiously boiling away. Meanwhile Vince's repetitive synth lines take the foreground, only providing fodder for the anti-Vincers. Such a loss :-(

Meanwhile, set two comes back with that most welcome of set-two openers, 'Scarlet > Fire'. The band really gets going in the intra-verse jam, seemingly cut short by Jerry himself. Oh why, Jer? But it was very good while it lasted. After that, 'Fire' is 'merely' fine, though still good in mood & performance. 'Smarter' finds a decent groove, and Vince takes a long 'trumpet' solo via his synth. The good news: it does sound an awful lot like a real trumpet. The bad news: it doesn't sound any better than a real trumpeter playing with the Grateful Dead -- in fact, it's probably several notches down. Still, the band hasn't lost it's mood, and you should be dancing :-)

'So Many Roads' finds Jerry in decent voice; perhaps not among the most noteworthy renditions, but a fine one all the same. Mickey seems especially into it. Bobby opts to follow with 'Saint', and it is a roarer --Jerry's guitar wails away, Bobby finds vocal nuances, the band is strong. I should add that Phil is barely present in the mix, typical of later shows (and perhaps one reason for their lesser popularity), but this isn't hurting the band's energy. Jerry doesn't let the song end without trailing a few notes into a fine 'He's Gone'. Those who rate this song by the jams that follow will find nothing here; it's just a finely sung & played rendition but not at all dull.

Drums find Billy & Mickey in dialog, but not a riveting one; we soon find Mickey moving to marimba, and then stranger things. When exactly does Drums become Space? Because Mickey so often seems to bridge the two. There seem to be some dropouts or possibly flips in my copy, so it's hard to say just how things develop. But the key word for the transition is TRAINS: track sounds, horn sounds. what the --?? The bus came by, then I got on the train? This soundboard is completely dry -- no audience whatever to clue us in to possible responses. Somehow we find ourselves winding into familiar territory, and it's completely logical for Jerry to start up 'Attics', a completely satisfying transition. Great call, and a fine performance!

Things move up from here: Bobby inserts a late blues in 'Spoonful', and someone rips out a very good solo -- ladies & gentlemen, Steve Miller on guitar! With Steve's help, the band takes some time with this, building up a jam into 'The Other One ' -- albeit what is probably the shortest version ever. Still, it's nice to hear the late Bobby slot going somewhere, even if it means [ab]using one of our favorite jam vehicles so casually.

But wait -- there IS a good reason for this too-casual TOO stop: to gear up for a Morning Dew! Well, it's hard to feel short-changed under those circumstances ;-) And this is a fine, slow version. A little odd to hear Steve Miller take a solo, but a good thing as Jerry is once again too low in the mix. This is rectified later, though, and just in time: one of the highlights of this show is hearing Jerry & Steve trade solos in the final build. Best ever? No, but it's fine fine fine, and it would have been one hell of a hoot to see it.

Lest you think I'm all 'up' on this show, the encore proves fairly useless, an inferior version to the 'Baba O'Riley' that graces DP-27. Vince gives a little falsetto howl that shows he [for one] is enjoying it. I guess it isn't really bad, just a bit sloppy. No matter; once 'Dew' ends, the show is over, and a good one it is. I got this show because i wanted to hear how Steve Miller fared in the post-Space; by the time I got that far, I'd forgotten he was guesting on this show. THEN he does really well. If you can't tolerate anyone guesting with the Dead, I guess that doesn't mean anything, but IMO there is fine music here. 1992 clearly has at least two good shows in it ;-)
Ramble On Joe

Review of the Grateful Dead's concert performance on 5/31/92 at in Las Vegas, NV. 
Grateful Dead bootleg reviews of 5/21/92