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Grateful Dead concert reviews by Rob Goetz

Grateful Dead concert reviews by Rob Goetz

Grateful Dead's February California1989 tour:
2/5/89 ~ Kaiser 
2/6/89 ~ Kaiser
2/7/89 ~ Kaiser
2/10/89 ~ Great Western Forum
2/11/89 ~ Great Western Forum
2/12/89 ~ Great Western Forum

Grateful Dead February 1989 concert reviews by Rob Goetz

2/5/89 ~ Kaiser Convention Center ~ Oakland, CA

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Show 1 of 1989
Show 1 of Feb CA Tour

Sunday --- first set opens with a standard and rusty sounding Touch; the Stranger that follows has a some potential in the jam but doesn't reach any impressive heights --- although Weir sounds very on; the Franklin's following this is likely the highlight of the show - Jerry reaches some great heights, but at the peak of the song as the vocals reach maximum in the "roll away" theme the transition into the final instrumental jam is flubbed; the LRR is average; the Althea has great weir rhythm but average Jerry; the We Can Run is very new and doesn't sound polished in the least; the Desolation Row is nicely done but doesn't match other versions; the Don't Ease is standard; set 2 opens with CRS - pretty solid with some nice jams; but not stellar; Women Smarter - complete with Brent verse; Jerry jams nicely on this and it works - not a bad version (I just don't particularly like the tune to begin with and the excessive Brent makes it worse) - Jerry sounds good though despite too much Brent on the keyboards; the vocal finale just doesn't work for me and it tarnishes this version; the transition to SOTM is rather abrupt and out of place -- this version is the first version ever...and it sounds like it; the first 2 verses suffer from a lack of coherent beat but the tune picks up with the bridge and sounds ok --- a lot of potential in this tune as we all know ... another Hunter Garcia classic; PITB - finally an improv tune; the jam is quite relaxed with some nice noodling jams here and there but for most part a very tame and uninteresting version; the space actually is quite interesting with Jerry's improvising; a complex space is developed that could go anywhere but drifts into Take Me Out of My Mind (or Take me home) the Brent Lullaby -- which is very very disappointing; the "tune" finally ends and Jerry enters He's Gone; this version has numerous flubs and during the instrumental jam Jerry can't seem to remember the instrumental theme notes and the sound is quite garbled and disjointed; the outro jam is almost nonexistent and the band enters a very average Miracle; the outro jam reaches some nice heights in comparison to rest of show but while Jerry is racing through the scales, the rest of the band doesn't seem to be adding a lot of uumph to it (except for Brent's keyboard which is omnipresent); this goes into of all things Morning Dew (which is a letdown because I'd have liked to see them save this tune for the next 2 nights) (am dew is for me a context tune - when it comes out of dark star or a well jammed second set it complements the rest of the evening and makes complete sense ----- here -- coming out of Take Me Home, He's Gone, Miracle seems odd and awkward -- in my opinion it is doomed to fail from the start); the first jam is average; the second jam seems to reach a nice peak but once again it is hard to distinguish Jerry's sound from Brent's overpowering keyboard; the encore is JB Goode and the band can't seem to end it quick enough

Show Type --- Fragmented; no real connecting jams between tunes

This was the first show of the year and of the mini 6 show CA Feb Tour; not a great start; the band sounded tired at points, sluggish, and the music was not very interesting...will be interesting to see if Brent continues to over dominate with his sound.  Rob Goetz ©

Grateful Dead February 1989 concert reviews by Rob Goetz

2/6/89 ~ Kaiser Convention Center ~ Oakland, CA

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Show 2 of year
Show 2 of 1989 Feb CA Tour
Monday - Oakland

The previous night was pretty bad so expectations must have been high going into this show. The band opens with NFA -- which is a very nice if not quick version; the jam has some nice Jerry leads and already the band has surpassed the best moment of the previous night (Franklin's Tower); this ends quickly though and goes into Sugaree which has some very nice extended Jerry jams; Next is Wang Dang Doodle with a mean and ferocious jam --- excellent version; Jack a Roe keeps the pace nicely with previous tunes; the band seems completely different than the previous night - in tune with each other and embellishing the songs perfectly; next is a very nice Queen Jane --- Weir and Jerry fit perfectly; very nice version; BEWomen - nice pace and no flubs -; Cassidy jam is nailed nicely; TJed closer has great moments but isn't quite exceptional

2.1: After great first set we get Hell; which is tight and has a nice jam in middle; Scarlet immediately follows which has a nice jam leading to the transition - Jerry running up and down scales; it works; the transition
starts out with some nice themes but this soon fades into repetitive cyclical themes - -not that interesting - and not a great Scarlet; the music dies down and they go into LLRain --- a serious disappointment --- I'd have much rather heard a Fire; this version is typical - not bad but not great either; followed by nice version of Terrapin - nicely sung and played, the ending is tight as well; not spectacular though; into drums with Brent for a few minutes;
2.2....space that follows as with previous night is interesting with Jerry creating nice themes; mostly with Brent; later Bobby; Jerry hinting early at The Other One; very nice Other One space created by Jerry -- hats off -- so far best moment of second set; the energy builds but the band doesn't create a sprint into verse one but rather a tippy toe --- no Lesh to speak of upon entry into verse one (complete with effects vocals)--; hard for me to appreciate this new way of doing the Other One; the in-between verse jam is ok with Jerry leading the way despite chaotic keyboard from Mydland; Jerry can't seem to inspire Lesh or weir though -- Jerry nicely nailing some themes though; some traditional Other One pound themes happen at the end but it sounds awkward and forced -- too bad considering the nice space Jerry created (2nd night in a row the tune ruined Jerry's space); this ends and we get Stella Blue; formulaic dead here; Stella actually isn't bad - some powerful rhythm gives it a forceful effect which really works - Jerry sings in only the way he can and adds some very nice guitar work during the bridge; Lesh seems also to have awoken from the Lesh Free Other One; the jam out into Lovelight; which is predictable; the Muddy River is very flat with someone (Brent or bobby) singing way out of tune - the transition from the jam back to the tune is also flubbed --- Rob Goetz ©

Grateful Dead February 1989 concert reviews by Rob Goetz

2/7/89 ~ Kaiser Convention Center ~ Oakland, CA 

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Show 3 of year
3/6 of Feb 1989 CA Tour

1.After two nights of average to mostly below average shows, the band opens with Hey Pocky Way - another Brent tune...although slightly catchy, the tune really goes nowhere in the jam - Jerry sounds like he is lost; this goes into Jack Straw which may be one of the most uninspired I've heard...the band sounds VERY unenthused at this point and based on the previous two evenings - my money says this show will tank as well...Loser follows next and begins with a note flub by Jerry, again this version sounds very forced...Walkin' Blues - no Jerry jam; next is another Brent tune - Just a LIttle Light - a first ever version; the sound sounds like a most other Brent tunes and this version seems very raw - perhaps in the future it will get better; next is the second ever version of SOTM; tune still has a rusty and uncoordinated sound; the pace of this and the first version is very very slow - it will be interesting to see when they increase it to the regular pace; this version demonstrates how far the tune has to go --- the jam only has Garcia strumming the G C D C G chords and not picking any notes as tune comes to close; Dylan tune of night is Memphis Blues; consistent with rest of evening - this version has numerous flubs; Weir's vocals are ok, but it doesn't even sound like Jerry is playing rhythm during the verses; during the first jam Jerry is late in starting it; same thing happens to Mydland; ugh -- this may be the worst of the 3 nights!; next is Bird Song --- the first set improv tune of the 3 night run; and a chance to redeem the previous tunes of the first set; the improv jam features very interesting Weir rhythm - he truly is trying to catch Jerry's attention but it doesn't work - Jerry's improv is listless and doesn't really go anywhere; Weir creates a ending jam pace and Jerry strums a little bit before returning to the tune; not even an average version; this closes the set...

2.1Extended Aiko opens 2nd set (Chinese New Year?) with noneventful jams - short and not very interesting; this is followed a very frail and downright bad Victim (I had to check to see if this was the first ever version and it wasn't! that was back in 6/88) - it almost sounds as if no rhythm was played; next is We Can Run - this version is tighter and the vocals are better than the 2.5.89 version - the band is truly pushing this tune and trying; next is UJB - choppy version (like it needs grease or something) - during the jam Jerry struggles to get out of the C / G / Dm chords into a note jam; result is not too impressive - quite flat jam; the jam wanders into an almost non UJB theme and meanders around; goes nowhere, and enters Drums

2.2 Drums are pretty mean at times; Jerry creates a nice space (nothing truly exceptional) which goes to the Wheel; nothing special; in fact the jam dies at the end to nothing; poor version; TStones comes next complete with several chord errors; the band really does not seem too enthused; at the conclusion as "ashes" drift toward NFA Jerry opens up Foolish Heart - with a very disjointed uncoordinated intro; jam 1 is very short and flubbed; jam2 is disjointed and doesn't sound tight at all; winds down; Weir starts GLovin' - band is slow to join him as if "you gotta be kidding;" disjointed version; one bright spot is that Mydland hints with keyboard at his wanting to sing "ooohh baby and Jerry starts up Good Lovin' backup forcing Mydland to join him --
enc is Knockin' and is average at best

*****So - first three shows of the year are in, and trends are definitely evident*****
1. Brent is performing quite a few tunes, and providing keyboard rhythm that is at times overpowering of the rest of the band. Will be interesting to see if this is toned down or not....
2. The band sounded very sluggish throughout all three shows --- is this the beginning of the year hangover or will it continue to LA for next 3 shows?
3. Jerry sounded bored at times and unenthused....
4. Where is Phil??? His presence was barely detectable
5. Only Set 1 of 2.6.89 received in my opinion an average to above average performance....thus only 1 of 6 sets was average to above average -- not a great way to start the year.....
6. The band sounded horrible at times (Victim, Jack Straw, Foolish Heart, etc)....usually their off versions weren't this bad ...
7. 1989 was a great year...no doubt about it....it shall be interesting to hear how they build out of this funk --- on to LA for the next 3 shows and the conclusion of the Feb 1989 CA Tour.... Rob Goetz ©

Grateful Dead February 1989 concert reviews by Rob Goetz

2/10/89 ~ Great Western Forum ~ Inglewood, CA 

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4th Show of 1989; 
4th Show of Feb 1989 CA Tour

The band stumbled into Friday night in LA after 2 very below average Oakland shows (2.5.89 and 2.7.89) and one average show (2.7). As such, expectations were high when I loaded this disk into my car CD player. I am treated to about 3 minutes of crowd noise and I suddenly hear myself cheering with it, turning the volume as high as it can go, and within my head urge the band to soak all the electricity in. Luckily, the band must have heard my thoughts because what was about to transpire was not only the best show of the 4 so far played in 1989, but in my opinion, one of the best Dead shows ever.

While tuning, Jerry massively hints at Feel Like A Stranger which drives the crowd crazy. As the band slams into the tune, one is immediately impressed with the Lesh bombs. The opening notes of the tune are saturated with complex Lesh bombs, and I find myself quite happy considering how Lesh barely was evident during the Oakland run. As the band enters the jam portion, Lesh and Jerry start a complex battle with each other in a mad sprint for the tunes finale. Jerry really deserves a medal for racing through the notes while complexly creating a odd yet interesting theme that blends beautifully with Leshs bombs. The sound is purely amazing and the passion created as they reach the zenith surpasses the Oakland shows peak (Sugaree 2.6.89) by a mile. Franklins Tower follows and after each verse Jerry enters various little jams complete with Lesh bopping right beside him. It is clear that the band sounds really in sync and on at this point. As Franklins Tower reaches the end, Jerry appears to be so happy that he screams out the final Roll Aways. As the final jam winds down Weir hints at Walkin Blues and gets his wish. Honestly, this may be the best Walkin Blues I've heard. I add a disclaimer to this because Late 80s Dead was never my forte and there may be other versions I need to hear, but this version is damn near perfect in my opinion. Next is a further argument as to why 2.10.89 may be one of the finest Dead shows of all time as Jerry pulls out To Lay Me Down. Vie always felt that Jerry only played this when the band was really on. This version is sweet and contemplative. Jerry methodically sings the verses in such a manner that suggests he is sucking all he can out of it. I like it. The singing of Jerry and the harmony of Bobbie Weir was still in 1989 very well done. The vocal climax is quite very delayed with numerous To Laaaaay me down..One Laaaast time. Breathtaking to say the least. Next is Dylan Time and the band plays Masterpiece which is totally in sync with the other tunes so far. Jerry and Bob once again give a harmony lesson to all who have attempted to blend two or more voices (it aint easy). The set ends with the highlight of the set (show? well see). A spectacular Let it Grow arises out of the ashes of LA and the jams set up by Lesh and Garcia are amazing and need to be heard. At one point during the first jam I noticed that I couldn't stop moving. A good indicator of a great version. Additionally, Lesh is so omnipresent in this version that at times I wondered if the year of the show was 1976. Additionally, it is nice to see someone else being omnipresent other than Mydland. Additionally Jerry steals the jams as he avoids numerous opportunities to end the tune and keep jamming. 1989 Jerry .....alive and kicking in the skulls of musical boundaries.

Set 2 begins with Just a Little Light and tests the theory that on some nights the Dead could do no wrong. The tune is played quite well considering the inherent limitations ..... there is little room for Jerry to jam ..... the band pulls it off with just the right umph.

Next is another indication that things were going very well for the band as they enter Truckin and invite an extended non.....stop set of music. The Truckin jam features the typical 1980s start but extends nicely as Jerry pushes the tune at a fast pace. Lesh concurs with numerous bombs and the jam really works. I'm impressed. For years I always thought that Truckin jams from 77 on were pretty lame in comparison to 1972.....74 versions. A very myopic fault of mine. Truckin in the late 70s became a different vehicle for the band. Instead of the launching pad to deep space as it did in the early 70s, it became a launching pad for a fast paced transition to a different tune in the late 70s and 80s. This obviously for some reason was hard for me to accept for many years, but now I'm over that problem and thoroughly enjoyed the 2.11.89 version of Truckin. As the jam reaches a nice pace Jerry pulls the rug out from the band and sticks picking Crazy Fingers. The result is a sweet version of this tune with only one major vocal flub. The jams are nearly perfect though and certainly contain a lot of passion. Vie always felt that Crazy Fingers is a commentary on the Grateful Dead by Robert Hunter. Jerry coasts the band into a nice space that Weir teases into PITBand. Another great moment of the show as the transition is particularly impressive.

PITB reaches some really neat peaks. This version has a very deep and extended space with numerous different themes. Jerry leads most of these jams but Lesh and Weir are right on top of him. Jerry's pace is fast and the jams are quite extended. As it seems the jam is going to drift into drums Jerry changes the mood and enters into a PITBand morose theme complete with harmonics plucking ala June 23, 1974, feedback and Lesh blasts. I really recommend hearing this PITB.

I have yet to decide what I think was the highlight of the night .....Let it Grow or PITB.

The post drums space is quite complex. Jerry creates numerous themes that are dark in nature and even throws in more harmonics themes aka June 1974. Nearly the last three minutes of the space is truly a Wheel space, and it is very nice to listen to. Jerry clearly is enjoying himself and the listener is mandated to comply. The penultimate Wheel is sung in a heartfelt manner and the jams are probing. The Wheel is, in my opinion, a tune that is mostly average but on those rare occasions when it was performed well (e.g., 5.19.77) it is one of those special tunes that define the Grateful Dead. This version is just that .....a splendid Wheel that features a performance by Jerry that is hard to match.

As the Wheel space winds down Jerry gently switches gears and starts plucking the notes of Gimme Some Lovin. Typically I don't like this song. I like this version. I really like this version. As the tune creeps upwards from Jerry's initial notes, a huge sound is amassed that is highlighted by Brent's organ. The beat they maintain through the tune is tight and the jams, while succinct, are also rigidly tight. True rock 'n roll here. One of the reasons I typically have not been a fan of this tune is that it lacks a strong rhythm from Lesh and Jerry. In this version we once again get loud thunderous bombs from Lesh and hot embellishments from Jerry. The first time I heard this I cringed when it developed out of the Wheel, but half way through was openly smiling. Here is another argument that when the Band is on, they can do no wrong.

Jerry's outro jam stretches for about 80 seconds and winds slowly down into a Wharf Rat. The harmony created by the band during this version are right on, but it is the first jam that is truly amazing. As Jerry sings I'm sher shell be true to you..he leaps from the chord into a race with Lesh towards Wharf Rat Bliss. The ensuing jam features a zenith that extends for about 25 seconds .....complete with high fret board patterns and even strumming from Jerry. As it ends and the band gets ready for Got up and Wandered you can hear the crowd through the soundboard cheering like mad .......... another amazing moment of the show; take a bow Jerry Phil Bob Mickey Brent and Bill; you deserve it. At this point in their careers they had performed ?1000? Wharf Rats .....but on 2.10.89 they just nailed it once again to the wall.

So now I'm left with what the highlight of the show was .....Let It Grow, PITBand, or the Wharf Rat jam? Not an easy question, especially when considering that as Jerry finished singing the final Rat verse, the band wanders into Sugar Magnolia. The pace is fast and as I hear it unfold I wonder if Jerry will be able to retain this pace and successfully navigate through the SSDD jam. After the initial strums of SSDD, Jerry impresses me once again as he develops a SSDD cyclical theme that builds faster and faster with each cycle. The band joins in and wails. This, my friends, is the Dead on fire. The SSDD vocals even features Weir trashing his voice box alongside Jerry maintaining a wicked rhythm of notes. They encore Baby Blue and it too is very worth hearing.

The tunes end, the crowd cheers, and the band leaves the stage. Another moment where I just stop what I'm doing and nod my head in appreciation and think to myself .....1989 .....man .....what a show .....one of the finest Vie heard .....and its only February 10, 1989 .....a ways to go with Spring Tour, Summer Tour, and the Dark Stars of the Fall Tour; but first before putting 2.11.89 in my cd player I begin making an audio copy of 2.10.89 for a close friend without a computer, put it in the cd slips, and fed ex it to him with only a note stating wow..

1: 8.9
2.1: 8.375
2.2: 8.9
2sum: 8.7
show sum: 8.8  Rob Goetz ©

Grateful Dead February 1989 concert reviews by Rob Goetz

2/11/89 ~ Great Western Forum ~ Inglewood, CA 

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5th Show of Year
5th show of 6 show Feb 1989 CA Tour

After a truly amazing show the night before, the Dead enter the LA Forum and open up with the years first Half Step. In the first two jams Jerry smacks through his notes in a confident yet reserved manner suggesting that some of the sparkle from the previous evening may still be with him. The final Rio Grandio jam confirms this ... Jerry nails it nicely with some high note repetitive cycles that made me nod my head in agreement. Ah to see the band again… This Half Step suggests that the band is at least in a different mood than the night before. Instead of busting free from the gates like they did with the 2.10 Stranger, this opener is slower and more thoughtful. Perhaps they didn't feel anything had to be proven on this particular night whereas with 2.10.89 they had the horrible Oakland shows to get past. After a wind down, Weir enters into 1989s first Minglewood. From the start of Minglewood, Weir makes it well known that he still can carry not only a tune but a loud tune as he screams nearly all of the vocals. Mydland and Weir each take tastefully short turns at leading and open the door up for Jerry. Despite starting a second or two too late, Jerry creates a nice flow through the theme, but falls off the theme half way through the jam and fails to reach it. As such this version is tarnished but the energy level certainly was evident through Weirs screaming. Keeping with the mellow and laid back theme, Jerry pulls out the years first Candyman. The set was at a cross roads here. The band all too often in the late 80s and 90s seemed to quickly give up on sets when it appeared they were headed in average to below average directions. After a slightly above average ˝ Step and a below average Minglewood (e.g., Jerry missed half the jam), a poor Candyman could make the rest of the set hard to listen to. As if he was well aware of my arguments here, Jerry rises to the occasion and hypnotically presents the lyrics and spins this listener dizzy with the harmonics lead. Perhaps this version is a bit too fast, but Jerry saves the day and flips the burden on Weir to keep the newfound momentum. Weir ups the ante and chooses a tune that would require the band to increase their pace ... the years first Big River. This version doesn't work for the following reasons: Jerry's first jam is slightly disjointed with any particular theme, Brent's turn suffers from too many piano effects in my opinion and for being way too exaggerated, and in the final jam Jerry fails to create any momentum from which either he or the band can catch and the jam ends where it began. Jerry pulls out the years first Built To Last. This version is a bit raw and nascent in structure, but it sounds good and certainly much better than the other new tune versions around this time (e.g., Victim, We Can Run, Standing on the Moon, Just a Little Light). Unfortunately the band completely blows the final chord segments and the tune crashes to a halt. Weir inserts the years second Queen Jane into the Dylan spot for the night. This version isn't bad but it isn't great either. Weir sings it quite well and the Jerry leads are very competent, but the energy doesn't develop into an exceptional version. Weir and Jerry sprint through the final chorus together at a pace quite faster than the rest of the song suggesting that they perhaps restructure the song at that faster pace. It will be interesting to follow Queen Jane through the year and see if they do change it for the better. Next is the years third We Can Run in five shows. This version certainly is the tightest of it. Mydland seems very moved by the lyrics as can be detected by his impassioned singing but the rhythm provided by Jerry just doesn't match the passion. At this point after three versions in five shows the band should be connecting the extra dots and it didn't happen with this version. I think this tune just isn't very good and doesn't provide a good platform for the band to wax passion ... maybe it is just a bit too preachy. My guess is that 8/10 or higher rated versions of this tune are hard to find. It will also be interesting to watch the progression of this tune through the year ... if they don't outright scrap it prior to the Spring tour. Next the band enter the years second Birdy. Based on the 2.7 version, Jerry didn't have far to go to make this the years best as of February 11. The jam begins frustratingly slow. I keep waiting for Jerry to break out but it doesn't happen. Jerry meanders back and forth through quick themes that don't build into anything. Finally he drives the jam into a frenetic or chaotic theme which Brent jumps on, but just as it begins to get interesting Jerry loses interest. The band senses the cue and starts doing the power chords signaling the big climactic jam. Jerry jumps onto this theme but only strums through it instead of picking notes around it. After this disappointing Bird Song, the band ends the set. The set wasn't their best but it was definitely better than 2.7, not as good as 2.6, about the same as 2.5, and certainly not as good as 2.10. For every 10.27.79, and 2.10.89 there is a 10.28.79 or in this case 2.11.89, or at least it could be if the first set is a harbinger of what the second set will deliver.

Set 2 opens with the years first China Cat. The Ccat jams sound watered down at times and unenthused. The transition jam barely seems to get started before Mydland hints at the traditional Ccat theme and reminds the band of where they are. As with the Bird Song, Jerry cant seem to hit any consistent themes and the jam sounds disjointed. Jerry sounds either quite distracted, bored, or frustrated. Despite the reasoning, the transition to Rider, and the Rider jams, are equally unimpressive. For the final jam Jerry apparently gave up on note picking and strummed through the chords. Unlike the previous night where each transition, and meaningless little jam had the sound of eloquence, at this point of the show on 2.11.89 Jerry couldn't buy a consistent and interesting theme. At this point I wouldn't be surprised if they gave up on having a flowing show where the tunes blend into each other and resort to a fragmented show where the tunes come to an end. They choose Women Smarter and at least appear to be supporting my hypothesis. Fragmented shows, in my opinion, are mostly poor. During the Women Smarter jam Jerry had significant problems with hitting any notes whatsoever and the sound is markedly diminished. Something sounded wrong ...whether it was with his guitar, whether he was too high, or whether he was just tired ... who knows ... probably his guitar ... but certainly something was wrong. Weir saves the day and ends the jam early by jumping back into the verse. Cast again into the jam pit Jerry struggles again to hit any consistent themes. Rapidly the band seems to be aiming for 2.7 as the worst show of the year. I presumed the band would head straight into drums at this point, but instead, Weir throws the band into Estimated Prophet. This version is weak because the Jerry led jam barely meanders and barely reaches the passion zenith we all love Estimated for.

The Estimated outro jam, however, yields in my opinion both the shows highlight and low point. Jerry must have been aware that he was stinking the show up, and with the Estimated outro jam he wandered well outside the realm of Estimated and pursued a chaotic jam that is laced with aggressive leads and feedback. This works well and clearly is the shows highlight. The jam is reminiscent of pre 75 jams but much shorter. Nonetheless, Jerry certainly deserves credit for gifting the crowd with such a jam. As the jam winds down and Jerry turns introspective with its theme the rest of the band yields the floor to him and for a few seconds it actually is only Jerry performing. As he begins to head towards a new theme, however, we get the low point of the night. Brent joins Jerry at this point and starts hinting at I Will Take You Home. This really is frustrating and disappointing for the listener. At this point Jerry was headed somewhere with his soliloquy from the average to below average evening and may have headed into Dew or who knows ... but one can be sure that he wouldn't have entered I Will Take You Home. Take You Home really bugs me as I think it kills nearly all momentum the band builds during space themes. It being only February 11, 1989, and having seen Take You Home on the shows I saw later this year, I will hold my tongue for later reviews. All I know is this ... there is a finite amount of Dead material out there, and an even smaller amount of material where Jerry stepped way beyond the norm as he did with this Estimated Outro Jam. And it honestly ticks me off that when the rest of the band is just waiting for Jerry to go where he pleases that Brent steals the reigns and muddies a special historical image of Jerry that we have. Water under the bridge. There was no surprise when the band entered drums after Brent's dissolving of the great Garcia jam.

Jerry tentatively enters into the space sequence with Brent offering structural support. Lesh enters next followed by Weir. The space is quite uneventful and offers no thematic support. Quite a contrast to the previous evening which offered to beautiful Wheel space. Jerry enters Eyes of the World which from a set list point of view is a treat. The performance, however, is consistent with the majority of the evening. Jerry's first instrumental jam sounds awkward as he cant seem to find a coherent theme. After about 25 seconds he ceases trying and coasts on top of the rhythm into the second verse. Similarly, in the second Eyes jam Jerry cant find a theme and it sounds quite disjointed. Honestly, I haven't heard Jerry sound this fragmented or uncoordinated in a lot of recordings. After the final verse, however, Jerry puts together a decent, if not average, Eyes outro jam which blends into a bluesy sounding theme that blends into Miracle. Thus, it seems that Jerry was having trouble maintaining song themes (e.g., Eyes, Ccat, Rider, Women Smarter, Estimated) but very capable of developing improvisational themes (e.g., the Estimated Outro Jam, and the jam between Eyes and Miracle). This suggests that perhaps the problem with Jerry was lack of interest or a diminished ability to concentrate.

Speculation only takes a listener so far, Vie learned, but another thing Vie learned is that Miracles lead to a final jam that either makes or breaks the version. In this version Jerry doesn't even attempt to increase the speed and it falls very flatly and awkwardly into Black Peter. Jerry does a good job of coasting in this and surprisingly raises this version to average which compared to the rest of the evening is pretty good. He ends the outro jam with some fast strumming that on any other night would be hot but on this night only suggests that he was trying to give the fans their moneys worth. As the jam ends into silence Weir begins Lovelight. This version is below average at best despite Weirs attempt to add flavor to a dull rendition with harried screams at the tunes finale. The show ends with a Box of Rain encore that has, surprise, a fragmented Jerry lead and not much else to make raise this from a below average to average version.

A tough show for the band. A tough tour for the band. This show was surprising in how bad Jerry sounded at times ... its rare to hear him struggle to develop a theme. Perhaps a bit of physics will explain this evenings performance ............ for every force, there is an equal force in the opposite direction. Thus, with the 2.10.89 performance a force in the direction of amazing was put forth by the band. On 2.11.89 the band put forth an equal force, but this time in the direction of horrible. I should note that despite getting good grades in physics during college, I didn't like physics, and I should also note the Dead for the most part are the exception to rules. It shall be interesting to see if this trend continues into the Spring Tour (of 5 shows so far, 1 was amazing (2.10), 1 was average (2.6) and 3 were awful(2.5, 7, 11), but first, we move to the final show of the Feb 1989 CA Tour and get to hear Jerry jam with Bob Dylan.

˝ step ... 7.5*
Mingle ... 6.0
Candy ... 7.5
Big River ... 6.5
Built to Last ... 6
Bird Song ... 6.0
1Sum: 6.6

CC Rider ... 6, 6
Women Smart ... 5
Estimated ... 6
Estimated Outro Jam ... 8
Take you home ... 5
2.1Sum: 6.0

Space ... 6
Eyes ... 5
Miracle ... 5.5
Bpeter ... 6.5
Love ... 6.5
Box ... 6.5
2.2Sum: 6

Set2Sum: 6
Whole Show: 6.3

*scale: 5 (couldn't be worse) 6 (below average) 7 (average) 8 (above average) 9 (exceptional) 10 (wow ... couldn't be better); don't ask me why ... but that is the rating system Vie developed and I like it and it works for me and I guess I'm not going to change it. Rob Goetz ©

Grateful Dead February 1989 concert reviews by Rob Goetz

2/12/89 ~ Great Western Forum ~ Inglewood, CA 

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6th Show of Year 
Final Show of 1989 February CA Tour

The band entered this show having had 1 amazing show out of 5; 1 average show out of 5; and 3 horrid shows out of 5. Instead of ending the tour on a high note, the band almost passes. While some moments are ok, most are sluggish or poor. I am hesitant to rip into this show too much as there were special guests and as such format is not a true Dead concert. The first set has below average to average versions of CRS, Hell, Row Jimmy, BIODTL, and Pland. Spencer Davis joins the band for a few tunes which don't sound very smooth. Set two has the rare electric Monkey but Weir doesn't seem to have the timing down. The Cassidy doesn't quite reach any impressive heights in the jam, the Alabama Getaway is rancid but encouraging that Jerry brought it out, the Dire Wolf is poor as well. Dylan sings a few verses on an average Stuck Inside of Mobile. Nothing earth wrenching.

The true highlight of the show comes with the space into the Other One. Jerry really develops a calm yet markedly Cryptical space that for the most part is just him. The themes he develops are quite complex. It is clear now that the band was attempting a new type of Other One. In the 60s was the That's It for the Other One style, 70 74 was the extended jam before and after first verse; 76-88? was the quick jam before and quick after; and now with 1989 there is the slow spacey and contemplative jam before the verse; faster jam but still slow compared to 1980 standards jam in-between the verses, and a longer spacey jam after the 2nd verse. For many years I really disliked this type of Other One. I always thought it was a rip off. But, now I see that the band was just evolving as they did when they stopped singing He Had To Die. Take it or leave it, but I think the result is quite interesting. On 2.12.89 we get a full 14 minute Other One jam (space) prior to the verse. Cant beat that. Lesh also seems very intent on this style of Other One as he really is plucking his notes with style and keeping up with Jerry's space. A very different and in my opinion based on 1984,5,6,7,8 a very welcome change.

The show ends with an average versions of Stella and a horrible version of Foolish Heart. The Foolish jams don't even seem to appear. Jerry fumbles through the first lead and the final jam is more strumming that thematic note development that was to come see 3.19.90 for a truly amazing Foolish Heart, compare it to 2.12.89 and you'll see what I mean.

The final show of the first tour of 1989. Not very impressive, except when you think about how amazing the 2.10.89 show was. Beyond that the band stunk. The band was to have 6 weeks off before the start of the Spring Tour on 27 March 1989.

Stats ---
Set 1: 6.5
Set 2.1: 5.8
Set 2.2: 7.0
Set 2sum: 6.4
Showsum: 6.45 Rob Goetz ©

Grateful Dead February 1989 concert reviews by Rob Goetz

 

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