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Grateful Dead concert reviews by Rob Goetz

Grateful Dead concert reviews by Rob Goetz

Grateful Dead Spring 1989 East Coast tour reviews:
3/27/89 ~ The Omni 
3/28/89 ~ The Omni 

3/30 ~ Greensboro Col.

3/31 ~ Greensboro Col.

4/2  ~ Civic Arena

4/3  ~ Civic Arena

4/5 ~ Crisler Arena

4/6 ~ Crisler Arena

Grateful Dead February 1989 concert reviews by Rob Goetz

3/27/89 ~ The Omni ~ Atlanta, GA

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 1st show of Spring Tour 1989
 7th Show of Year 

The band opened the Spring Tour 1989 with a ˝ Step Mississippi Uptown ToodleOO. This version is marred by contrasts. Jerry plays a very snappy beat during the instrumental jams and just nails the notes quite nicely. The band behind him, however, seems almost to answer through their playing that they are not ready for such enthusiasm. The jam into Rio Grandeo is complex and reaches a nice peak by Jerry but the band doesn't seem to be with him. The next set of songs are all unremarkable and rather boring. The band chooses Built to Last which sounded cleaner and more in sync than in the Feb Tour. Still the band had yet to figure out the timing. Weir is way off on the ending chords. Also, Jerry's solo sounds somewhat confused. Nonetheless the song sounds better and clearly the band is starting to develop into it. Another new tune, We Can Run, was also performed. This version as well is stronger than the Feb versions and shows that the band was strongly pushing this song as it, at this point, was the most played song of the year. As with the previous versions, I am left thinking the song is still too preachy for my taste. The first set takes a dramatic change with Cassidy. Jerry directs the jam through several different themes but what is most impressive is the final two minutes. At any point during this time Jerry could have headed straight back into the reprise but instead pushed the jam further and deeper. The result is a frantic and desperate sound that is all too reminiscent of the Half Step that opened the show. Jerry seems to be stating to the other band members that his enthusiasm could only be quelled for so long. This clearly is the highlight of the set, but I should note that the desperate sound that Jerry creates conflicts with what the bands rhythm. It is a bit of an odd sound, but to a Cassidy fan, Ill take enthusiasm wherever I can get it. The set ends with a nice version of Touch of Grey. All in all the first set here was unremarkable and outside of the Cassidy a bit boring. Yet, the band was adhering to the same old formula that has worked for all too long with them patience leading to unexpectedly good results. Perhaps that is what disappointed me so without about the CA Feb Tour – the band had substandard versions that never led to the great pop of energy. 2.5.89 and 3.27.89 were both first shows of a tour. Both first sets will likely never be heard by me again. But, the 2.5.89 first set featured almost a lethargic and uninterested band. Whereas the band was on and Jerry wasn't on 2.5.89, here on 3.27 Jerry is particularly on and the band a bit off. Here, the band sounded especially enthusiastic and willing to be patient in the goal of nailing a tune. I read this in an optimistic manner. Set 2 begins with the years first Scarlet Fire. The opening theme is particularly enthusiastic with the band seemingly leaping into their roles. The Scarlet in between verse jam is extended and Jerry's note themes complex. It nicely builds to a climax and is not marred by flubs. The transition to Fire is full of 40 second jams by Jerry and is fun to listen to. This version is not stellar or supreme by any means but the thematic exploration by Jerry strongly suggests that this tour was to have a lot of potential. The Fire is similarly interesting. Jerry apparently slows the jam down at times, rebuilds it to nice peaks and themes, and then back down again. Its laid back or cautiously furtive Dead. During the final vocal Jerry emits some out of tune by amazingly passionate Fire on the Mountains. I enjoyed this, but did note in the back of my mind that it almost sounded like a confused old man. Blasphemy? Hmm. Jerry sails the band once again in to the tunes instrumental conclusion. Oddly at this point the limiting reagent is the band and not Jerry. Jerry seemed particularly up for this show. Again this version is not earth shattering but after listening to the CA Feb Tour except for 2.10.89, it was a welcome change. Next is Estimated Prophet. Again, a pretty average version, but this one highlights the bands questionable harmonies. While Weir sounds ok, Jerry and Brent needed some work. The jam is somewhat normal until just before the end Jerry turns on the charm and slams the jam into overdrive. The band appeared to be a bit more in sync around him at this point. After some 1989 Estimated yelps by Weir, the band settles in for a drive down the Eyes of the World expressway. Jerry opens this up with traditional flowing themes that quickly turn almost jazzy. Jerry opens up about 3 different distinct themes during this transition that leads to a scale sprinting race to Eyes. This really is tremendously performed by Jerry and the band. I think it is the highlight of the show. The jams in Eyes don't reach the same beauty or heights. Jerry puts forth an average job here, and the jams don't quite reach the flowing contemplative success we all know Eyes of the World is able to achieve (for 80s example see 9.17.82, for 70s example see 11.11.73). The band opts not to do a long extended post Eyes jam. As the pre drums tunes come to close I once again find myself impressed with an average job by the band. Ok, above average. The Space consists mostly of Jerry and Bob. Jerry tinkered with a bunch of new sounds from the new axe, while Weir mostly emitted feedback. Despite a very slow pace and theme progression, this Space covers a bit of ground and is somewhat interesting. Near its conclusion Jerry begins the notes of the Wheel without any real transition into the song. The song itself is rather crisp and briskly paced. The vocals are attacked and the version is certainly above average. The transition jam is interesting because while Garcia is performing a typical Wheel outro jam, Weir begins massively hinting at Miracle. Ultimately he gets his wish and another Miracle is granted. This version is marked by an outrageous amount of enthusiasm presented by Weir in his screams. It sounds a bit out of context considering how lazy the show up to this point had been. The jams don't really coalesce too well either, and it isn't an above average version by any means. This wanders into Standing On the Moon. The Feb versions of this tune were marked by an awkwardness and lack of note developed jamming. This version is definitely cleaner and tighter. Clearly, the song is evolving and maturing. Jerry emits some out of tune but passionate yelps of Be With You at the songs end. Yet, the band still only rocked back and forth on the G C D C G C D theme at the finale instead of opening up a note developed theme. Perhaps the band will achieve this by the end of the Spring Tour? The show ends with a standard Lovelight and Useless Blues with no real fireworks to speak of except Weirs fun screaming at the Lovelights finale. As I noted to begin with, I don't think this show is that great but what is interesting to me is how it isn't poor. The Spring Tour began with the band facing the Feb Tour as a potential indicator of things to come. The 2.7 and 2.11 shows were tremendously bad in that Jerry struggled to even find thematic development within the songs. On that tour, the average show for the band was a below average performance. If it were not for the 2.10.89 show, the average show for the band would have been a very poor performance. Thus, while this show 3.27 wasn't great by any means, it certainly paints an optimistic picture of what is to come. Flat dead is better than disjointed and bad dead. Bravo to an average performance? Sure, bravo. Stats Set1: 6.8 Set 2.1: 7 Set 2.2: 6.6 Set 2: 6.775 Show: 6.78  Rob Goetz ©

Grateful Dead February 1989 concert reviews by Rob Goetz

3/28/89 ~ The Omni ~ Atlanta, GA

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 8th Show of Year
 2nd Show of Spring tour 

After an average show the night before highlighted by nice spurts of Jerry magic, the Dead start the second and final show of the year at the Omni in Atlanta with a rousing Let the Good Times Roll. The finale is pure bliss as Weir emits some fantastic yelps and Jerry and Brent provide precise harmony. This jumps into Franklins Tower and it seems as if maybe the band would expand the previous evenings average showing into an above average or even exceptional show. But, the Franklins falls a bit short. The energy certainly is present for this Franklins Tower, but the Jerry jams fail to crawl into the above average. While each lead he has starts out nicely, the theme quickly seems to stall and wander back to the next verse in an uninteresting manner. These leads are not poor by any means, but they also are not above average. As the final Franklins jam winds down, Jerry begins Feel Like a Stranger which a cool transition. The Stranger is tightly performed as Weirs vocals sound quite strong. The jam is great. Jerry starts the jam out with expansive leads that Weir immediately adjoins with. The result is a great example of Garcia Weir collaboration. At several points as Jerry reaches the zenith of a particular theme, Weir is right on top of it with his own unique rhythmic wallpaper. As such, it appeared that perhaps the Franklins Tower was not a foreshadow of the evening but that perhaps the Stranger jamming was. Jerry chooses a quickly paced Stagger Lee next. The band provides a very tight rhythm and Jerry's vocals are right in tune. The instrumental verse extends through 3 cycles and is not poorly done. Jerry manages some in tune Song That Delia sung yelps, and the final jam fails to extend beyond the chord sequence of C G C D. Still not a bad version, but not above average either. For the Dylan slot Weir chooses Memphis Blues Again. This version is also quickly paced and quite tight. Despite a few flubs here and there this version is nicely put together. Jerry pulls out Ramblin Rose next, and its selection alone suggests things were going well because it certainly extended the set (Memphis blues could have the jam spot and logically you would expect Jerry either to end the set or pull out Don't Ease). This version is nicely done and the jam is wah wah boppy and full of energy. Again an average to above average performance. Notably, at this point of the first set the band had performed nearly all average versions of first set tunes except for Good Times and Stranger which I think were above average. The previous nights first set was mostly mixed with average to below average and thus the band was heading in the right direction. Let it Grow filled the jam spot of the first set and it really explodes. The tune itself is nearly flawless and the jams are extended and filled with Jerry and Phil bombs. This version is rather impressive. Jerry has a few chances to end the jam but continues with it. Inevitably, I found myself comparing it to the 2.10.89 version and for a few seconds I was torn. But, I think the 2.10.89 version is better because it is a bit cleaner and tighter. The 3.28.89 version is a bit more loose and rough. I should note that both versions, in my opinion, are extremely fine versions. Also, the band had performed Let it Grow two times up to that point in 1989 and both versions were easily above average or better. The set ends with Don't Ease Me In which surprisingly is rather hot. Jerry does some fine scale sprinting, and the tune just rocks out. As with the previous night the first set got better as the tunes progressed on 3.28. But, unlike the previous night, all of the songs performed on 3.28s first set were average versions or better. The tour was just getting started and already the band seemed to be gaining momentum. Set two begins boldly with Sampson & Delilah which was the years first. The song itself is very well played and the Jerry jams are surprisingly tight considering it was the first of the year. Ship of Fools, also the first of 1989, follows. This version is very nicely done. The instrumentals are right on, the vocals are soothing, and the mood of the set is completely transformed from the Sampson mania to a wide open relaxed playing field from which the band could open another tune. They choose PITBand. This was the third version of the year for PITBand. The first on 2.5 was rather lazy with little exploration while the 2.10 version was among the finer versions I've heard. The 3.28 is different than the 2.10 version in that the themes selected and created by the band are a bit odder than 2.10 but more in sync with traditional PITB themes. Several themes are developed and pursued and the result is a very nice excursion. Another example of the optimism for the Spring Tour. Jerry drives the jam deeper at one point and the sound really takes off. Jerry just sails through the scales while Weir once again adds a beautiful and appropriate rhythm. Another great Dead jam. As the space winds down Jerry hints at reentering PITBand, and the band joins him for a rare beginning to end version of PITB. The pop as they commit themselves toward reentering the reprise is tight and powerful. The song ends and the crowd cheers for a full second or two. Jerry immediately starts strumming Foolish Heart and the rhythm created is fast and catchy. Would the band stumble through this version as they did in February or begin nailing it? Jerry flubs several of the vocals but the pace is maintained as with the enthusiasm so it mattered little. The first jam is performed awkwardly but much better than either of the February versions. The band had yet to expand this into more of a note developed jam as they for example did on 3.19.90. The finale is very nicely done and was a huge improvement over the February versions. Clearly the tune was evolving for the better and at least for my ears, it was a welcome addition. As the tune comes to a near complete ending, Jerry reopens a theme and coasts for a while with Brent and the Drummers. As the Drums segment begins and the remaining band members leave the stage the crowd cheers quite loudly. Sure, they always cheered loudly. But for me, the cheers signified an appreciation for a fine first half of the second set. A well executed Sampson, a mood altering Fools, a deep PITBand with numerous themes, and finally a much improved Foolish heart. Clearly the band was improving and the sounds of February sans 2.10.89 were long behind them. The space developed by Jerry is very interesting and has a demented and sick sound. Numerous leads are pursued and a lot of wah wah 1972esque sounds are pursued. Jerry really cooks at some points during this space and it is certainly above average. It is always a pleasure to hear creative Jerry. The space eventually winds down and enters Gimme Some Lovin. The Jerry leads on this are quite choice as he enthusiastically races up and down the fret board in his attempt to capture his passion. This version is pretty hot and I think it was above average despite some hair raising screams by Brent, gimme gimme gimme gimme some HOT HOT HOT HOT lovin. Yow! A final jam is attained by the band with Gimme Some and is highlighted by Jerry strumming at the speed of light for about 90 seconds. This was a very hot moment. Wharf Rat crawls in behind this jam, and I am struck at the similarity to 2.10.89. 2.10.89 jam spot in set one was let it grow, same with 3.28. 2.10 had a great PITB, so did 3.28. 2.10 had a gimme wharf rat and so did 3.28. Interesting. The Wharf is very well crafted and has a very hot jam before the last verse that does not match the 2.10.89 version. Still it is once again great to see the band cooking. This goes into Throwin Stones which is unlike 2.10.89. This version is relatively solid. As usual, this version has the moment when Weir screams On Our Owwwwwwnnnnnnn and as usual is phenomenally out of tune. Someone was talking to me outside of my office at that particular point in this version. She stopped talking and said, oohhh. Ya, I've never quite understood why Weir spent years trying to recapture what his voice could do in 8384and85 with Tstones. The actual jam coming out of his is also solid but not spectacular. As could be predicted the band ends the set with NFA which also is relatively standard if not a little above standard because of an extended Jerry led NFA theme before the return to reprise. The crowd chants the band into the encore which is an average Box of Rain. The second show of the 1989 spring tour completed, I am left with optimism. The bands first show was average but the second was above average. In fact, 3.28.89 likely was, up to this point, the second best show of the year. Stats Set1: 7.6 Set 2.1: 7.5 Set 2.2: 7.3 Set 2: 7.4 Show 7.5  Rob Goetz ©

Grateful Dead February 1989 concert reviews by Rob Goetz

3/30/89 ~ Greensboro Col. ~ Greensboro, NC

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Greensboro 9th Show of Year 
3rd Show of Spring Tour

 3.27 and 3.28 were average shows in my opinion but showed a lot of potential because of the spurts of greatness that were evident (3.27 there was Cassidy and the transition jam from Estimated into Eyes; on 3.28 there was Let it Grow and the Gimme Some Lovin finale meltdown; I rated the 3.27 show as a 6.78 and the 3.28 show as a 7.5). As such, the question of whether the band would maintain this momentum or lapse was at hand. The band opened up the North Carolina shows with a smoking Bertha into Jack Straw. The Bertha immediately is striking because Jerry's voice is crackling and sounds a bit like the old Jerry. Clearly in my opinion this is his best vocal showing of the year to date. The jam on Bertha is also worth hearing as Jerry meanders nicely while Lesh and Weir drop their chord bombs at the transitions of G and C. This version really works and I would say that it is certainly above average. Also, it showed to me that the band was definitely maintaining a bit of the momentum they had gained from the Atlanta shows. Next is Jack Straw and in the jam the boys create a ladder jam that builds and builds just like a 1978 first set version. Ultimately Jerry saws the top of the jam with a stellar lightning speed strumming. A very hot opening duet. This recording was an audience and after the Bertha Jack the crowd was going crazy. So, like he did with 12.4.79 by playing PeggyO, Jerry pulls out Row Jimmy to ease the mood a bit. In my opinion, this was one of the great things about the Dead. The band could raise a crowd into a frenzy with their muscle flexing jams and create a very high energy aura throughout a venue. But, instead of working this energy in the same direction with more rockin roll the band could rechannel the energy to a different state with equal intensity. Such was the case with tunes like Row Jimmy. Such was the case with 3.30.89. Jerry meanders and moans sweetly in this version and as with the Bertha it is great to hear his voice in better order. The jams work here as well and this version maintains the pace, but in a different direction, of the Bertha Jack. Brent's turn is next and he performs Blow Away. This in my opinion is a great tune and is really suited well for the Dead. The chord progression is unique enough to give it a Deadesque sound and the open spots allow Jerry ample room to explore with his rhythmic note plucking and his opportunities to create improvisational themes (unlike We Can Run or Just a Little Light which in my opinion stifle Jerry; in fact, Just a Little Light seems like the kind of tune Vince Welnick might play). But Blow Away is a great tune. The refrain is catchy and the ending jam works quite well with Brent doing his thing vocally and Jerry and the band cyclically working through the chordal progression to a big climax. Great Dead tune. This version slams the message home is a mean version. I have heard bigger and harsher versions though. Weir next pulls out Masterpiece and indeed it is. I've heard a lot of Masterpieces through the year but I really like this version. Weirs vocals are quite strong but it is the Jerry instrumental verse that steals the show for me. After a cycle through the chords Jerry pulls off a 20 second moment where he interprets the tune with an understanding only he could have. We all have certain little moments of shows that for some reason blow our mind (another for me is the Lesh bomb just as the band glides into Stella Blue on 10.15.77). At this point the band is really sailing with a strong wind behind them. On my account the bertha jack row and master were 8 of 10s, and Blow was 7.5. So far, this was the strongest show of the spring tour. Jerry takes this show to another level with the finest Bird Song of the year to date. The jam has three stages. The first is traditional Bird Song jamming which nicely leads to complex set of repeating notes with the band racing with Jerry. I love this aspect of the Dead. Just when the jam seems poised to go through the roof Jerry pulls the rug out and starts anew toward another peak. Here was no different. As the first theme seems to max out he dives deeper and starts another theme. This second stage of the Bird Song is a bit harsher and perhaps more psychedelic. The theme builds and builds and peaks out with an exasperated tone that suggests that if indeed there was a bird this version was representing that it would be being chased for its life. And again Jerry lets the jam dissolve and begins anew. This time for the third and final theme he starts a chordal jam with the rest of the band that should be heard by all Deadheads. The theme builds and builds and ends with Jerry strumming a lightning speed meltdown. Clearly another high point in Dead history and if I may say so, please take a bow Jerry. 1989 and I'm still hearing amazing and heart pounding versions of Bird Song. The set ends with a Promised Land marked by a tired finale jam. Still, a very very hot first set capped with one of the finest Bird Songs I've heard. And the question I initially posed prior to the beginning of the show as to whether the band would maintain expand or decrease the momentum gained from the Atlanta shows has been answered. The band definitely expanded that momentum. Set two hard a hard act to follow. The China Rider and the Looks Like Rain show it as well. The Chider transition jam just doesn't take off like other versions and sounds a bit stale. The LLRain also seems poised for staying on the ground instead of taking off. Honestly I was a bit surprised to see the band start the set like this considering how well they performed the first set. Alas, next is He's Gone which was very well done. The jam is bouncy and the vocal finale has a lot of moaning and screaming. All in all a slightly above average version that leads into a jam that yearns to go further than it did. The band seems to gain speed and momentum and appear header towards a Smokestack? Or who knows, but instead it drops into drums. Ouch. Nothing like a Hess Gone jam that gains momentum and stalls into drums. The space is directed by Jerry and is quite complex. He switches off between wah wah and traditional sound that creates a dust bowl sound of harsh winds and an angry direction. Sure enough this fine space heads into the Other One. This version is different than the fine version performed on 2.12.89 in that it is not built from a jazzy space with mellow sounds. This is a harsh and provocative version of the other one. Jerry leads the band through sprinting themes that surprisingly work well. I say surprising because as I heard it it reminded me of 9.17.82 which a different time and sound for the band. Still this version is impressive. Jerry pauses a bit after the second verse before choosing Stella blue. This version is calm and careful. The first jam at the bridge soars but doesn't rip Stella's head off. The finale jam also is careful and doesn't present anything interesting or new (unlike 10.15.77 which is perhaps my favorite version of Stella Blue, or maybe my favorite is 9.7.73, or maybe 6.18.74; all are great versions). As this Stella stalls before a climax is met, Weir enters an average Sugar Magnolia. The show ends with an average Heavens Door. This show expanded the tour even further as another highlight was introduced with the Bird Song. The band was cooking at this point and beginning to define a prototypical 1989 show. One interesting development was that the jam spot of the first set was frequently becoming the highlight of the show. As with the 3.30 Birdy, the 2.10 Let it Grow, the 3.28 Let it Grow, the 3.27 Cassidy, etc. Interesting development. With the looming Dark Stars of the Fall ever approaching it shall be interesting to see if the highlight switches back to the second set. Stats Set 1: 8 Set 2.1: 7.2 Set 2.2: 7.2 Set 2: 7.2 Whole Show: 7.6 Rob Goetz ©

Grateful Dead February 1989 concert reviews by Rob Goetz

3/31/89 ~ Greensboro Col. ~ Greensboro, NC

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NC Show 10 of 1989
Show 4 of 1989 Spring Tour 

One step forward two steps back. The band had made significant improvements and successively improved from 3.27 3.28 and 3.30, but on 3.31 the band tanked a bit. Notably is a very impressive ending to the show with a sizzling Morning Dew and a nice Good Lovin. The first set is not marked by poor versions but rather standard and flat versions. Average at its best. The show is not bad by any means and if this is to be the prototypical average show from 1989 than things could certainly be worse. The first set starts with a Hell in a Bucket that isn't bad but sounds a bit disjointed. This is followed by Sugaree which is the only below average tune of the show. As the band attempts to create a finale Sugaree jam the beat gets messed up and Jerry aborts. The Minglewood that follows is well jammed but sloppy; the Peggy sounds a bit fast to me; the MAMUBigRiver is average. The highlight of the first set is the Loser which has a very nice jam wherein Jerry pulls the band at a faster than normal speed. Still, it is by no means dazzling. The Victim is much better than the 2.7.89 version but still is not impressive. In fact, as the finale space is building into something interesting the band stops playing and starts SOTM. The SOTM is definitely a highlight in that it is the first version where Jerry inserted a note developed finale after the final “Be with you” series. While it is by no means a must hear version, it is very interesting to listen to the progression of this fine Hunter Garcia classic. It shall be interesting to hear the band increase the speed a tad of the verse progression, to hear the development of the finale jam, to hear the development of Jerry singing over and over “be with you” at the conclusion, and also to hear the band insert this tune in its proper late second set spot. While I hate to admit that the Dead were formulaic, they for the most part did adhere to a certain structure. At this time in 1989 Jerry had a post drums ballad he would perform and it was for the most part limited to Black Peter, Stella Blue, Wharf Rat, and occasionally Morning Dew. The addition of SOTMoon added a lot to the variety factor. The second set starts with a rockin Hey Pocky Way with Brent singing and sounding as though he just finished 30 lines of coke. I applaud his effort though, and it does inspire Jerry to pull off an impressive solo. This is followed by Truckin that proves the band is having an off night. The Truckin spiral is average and the outro jam is cut short by Jerry. The outro jam is interesting because Weir massively attempts to insert a Wang Nang Boodle. The effort is received by all and the song is for all practical purposes ready for him to start singing the first verse. But, Jerry pulls the rug out (ala 8.27.72 with El Paso) and starts Terrapin. This Terrapin is a bit tired and doesn't do very much. The space in-between the verses prior to “since the end is never told” is unimpressive and the finale jam sounds like a lot other versions. There is a bit of a jam that Jerry creates out of the Terrapin but it doesn't develop into anything impressive. The space segment is also a bit flat and sounds similar to other versions. The space is only Jerry and the reason is likely that Brent wanted to perform Take Me Home, which he does. Next is a Watchtower that has average jams and doesn't build into the mountain that it can. Next the show completely changes and the show highlight is met with a tremendous Morning Dew. The jams are extended and very well developed. Its always good to hear Jerry pull off a monster Dew. This version is quite unlike the prior Dew on 2.5.89. The band rose to the occasion for this version. This is followed by a nice Good Lovin. The encore Brokedown is average. 4 shows into the Spring Tour of 1989 and as I call it the band played 2 above average shows (3.28 and 3.30) and 2 average show (3.27 and 3.31). Pittsburgh is next on 4.2.89 and 4.3.89. The band has yet to match the 2.10.89 show as the top spot of the year. Also, the band has yet to match the 2.11.89 show for the worst of the year. Stats Set 1: 7 Set 2.1 7 Set 2.2 7.2 Set 2 7.1 Show 7.05  Rob Goetz ©

Grateful Dead February 1989 concert reviews by Rob Goetz

4/2/89 ~ Civic Arena ~ Pittsburgh, PA 

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11th Show of Year 
5th Show of 1989 Spring Tour 

With this show the band entered the second quarter of the spring tour which was 16 shows. As denoted before, the first 4 shows lacked a dazzling note one to note final performance ala 2.10.89. But hope was present as the band did show some strong points through the first four shows of the Spring Tour, notably the Bird Song and Morning Dew on 3.30 and 3.31, respectively. Yet, the truly consistent show was eluding the band. They must have known it. Of the 10 shows of the year, only one was phenomenal from beginning to end. To make things even more interesting, the crowd became an issue for the band on 4.2.89 as severe riots broke out outside the Pittsburgh Civic Center. Same old issue as too many people showed up. I tried to dig up old news reports of the riots but couldn't find any. As I remember it, people tried rushing the doors of the venue and the police and SWAT team arrived to create peace. Several people were pounced by the police and several people were arrested. Harsh scene for the band to take the stage. A harsher reputation was beginning to surround the band as one not of music but of low life Deadheads whose only goal is to get higher and higher and do little work in return, and follow even fewer rules. Nondeadheads started to resent the dead and their following. Soon, the Dead would begin to be banned from their favorite venues. The band later that summer would beg the Deadheads not go to shows if they didn't have tickets and not to get so high that they lose control and not camp and not sell drugs at the shows . . . . . . but, this was coming from a group that became what they were for not following the rules. There was little expectation that these pleas would be adhered followed. I attended the Milwaukee shows just 13 days later, and was shocked at the number of people. That venue held 18000 seats and there must have been 30000 people around the venue. I also saw more than the usual number of totally fucked up Heads. Id seen scenes where people had taken too much acid and such, but this was unreal. In the hotel I stayed in it was like a zoo with people passed out in the hallways, vomit in several places, one guy knocked on our door, came in our room and was totally totally messed up on acid. . . . I mean he was speaking in word salad . . . . absolutely no sense. And this was the night before the first concert. I also saw a lot of arrests. Maybe the cops were more cognizant than usual because of the Pittsburgh riots. But I saw a lot of people getting arrested, more than usual. The other rumor was that the DEA had agents within the crowd and were picking off heads selling drugs. The scene was bound to burst. One older Deadhead that I know once said that the Grateful Dead was a complex composition comprising the music and the culture that followed it. The culture couldn't live without the Dead, and the Dead couldn't live without the culture. By the end of the 80s and beginning of the 90s the culture was dying. The Dead was not a scene that was to be firmly regulated by anything or anyone. Thus with the gate crashing events in Pittsburgh it became clear that the culture was dying, and with the death of the culture meant the death of the Dead. The same person says that the Dead died long before Jerry did. . . . So the band must have been distracted prior to performing and they must have known that the scene was getting out of hand. Too many people. The Pittsburgh duet started on 4.2 with Aiko and features some harsh but jubilant vocals from Jerry. The band sounds excited enough and the jams are full of expression but a bit short. Still it was a strong opener. As this ends Weir begins Little Red Rooster which unfortunately fails to rise above average. The jams are a bit sloppy and saturated in Brent's organ. Weirs slide playing also leaves a lot to be desired. Jerry's finale jam is interesting but cant overcome the previous flubs. Next is the years first Dire Wolf which surprisingly is very well done and quite crisp. What follows is a very flat All Over Now. The vocals sound tired from Weir, the finale jam starts with about 30 seconds of vocal moaning from Brent, the Jerry lead is listless, and the jam ends with Bobby sounding miserable on his slide. All Over Now is one of my favorite first set Bobby tunes, but this version is not an example of how well the Dead performed it. Brent gets a turn next with another We Can Run and this is likely up to that point the years best. The band appeared to slow it down from previous versions, and Jerry was starting to sound more comfortable with creating the rhythm. Perhaps this song might make it? Still, this version is not impressive and in fact, with the addition of Lesh singing harmony, the band had a lot of work to do in making it sound harmonious. Honestly, the refrain of We Can Run, with Jerry, Bob, Phil, and Brent singing was way out of tune on this version. Continuing with the labile performance, the band switches from a poor version to another surprisingly well done version with BEWomen. As with the Dire Wolf, Jerry's vocals are right on and as Jerry might say crackling with energy. The instrumental is also nailed tight. Bobby returned from the one show hiatus from performing his first set Dylan tune with Queen Jane. This version is tight and well sung but the jams fail to rise to impressive. Still, the Queen was better than the Rooster and the Over Now suggesting that maybe the Bobby tunes were going to end the set on a high note. Jerry tunes, on the other hand, up to this point of the set were doing quite nicely. The Aiko was a 7.5, the Dire an 8, and the BEW an 8. So Jerry tried Tennessee Jed which also is sung and performed quite tightly. The jam is reminiscent of the ol days as Jerry creates the spiraling cascade of notes at the finale that certainly sounds delirious. A great version. Weir ends the set with the years first MNStopped. The song is jubilant in sound with only a few flubs. The challenging instrumental starts with the traditional 1980s drift. Weir provides a nice wah wah rhythm which Jerry improvises off of. As the drift increases in speed Jerry trips in switching gears to the sprint finish and it sounds awkward. The finale has Jerry providing some nice impressive note progressions and the band sounds hot. Despite the flub mentioned in the jam, this MNStopped aint bad considering it was the first of the year. An odd set completed, I am left scratching my head a bit as I look over the list to see that the Weir tunes failed to rise above average, and the Jerry tunes were all above average. In addition, the elusive tremendous show from beginning to end would have to wait at least one more night. Set two begins with the years first Shakedown Street. Pittsburgh aint got no heart? Hmm. Perhaps a little commentary pertaining to the riots? Maybe. I used to live in Pittsburgh but was too young to remember it. Jerry keeps his momentum up as this Shakedown is very hot. The verses are sung tightly and with attitude. The first jam is precise and peaks nicely before the last set of verses before the extended jam. The song ends with numerous Got No Hearts before Jerry takes the reign and takes the boys and the crowd on a ride. In the first theme Jerry cooks away with complex leads while Brent provides an encouraging rhythm that works quite well. Weir also provides great rhythm. The second theme is a deliberate attack from Jerry in Shakedownesque style but short lived as it lasts only about 30 seconds. Instead of going further with more themes, Jerry returns the band for the vocal finale. I would have enjoyed more of a jam personally. Very short jam. Short but sweet. Next is the first Women Are Smarter since the amazingly bad version on 2.11.89. On that evening Jerry was struggling to create any thematic sound. This version is better in that Jerry does create competent instrumental themes in-between the verses. This version, however, is not above average nor even average as the jams fail to reach interesting heights and seemed destined to stall from the start. Interestingly, Jerry continued to struggle creating themes within his leads. It shall be interesting to see if this continues with the remainder of the tour and year. This version is a far cry and distant memory to, in my opinion, the finest version ever from 9.17.82. As the Women slows down the crowd starts clapping in unison to the beat and Jerry starts Foolish Heart. The previous 1989 versions of Foolish Heart were quite brash and disjointed. This version aligns with the previous versions. The first jam is short and is stumbled into, and the finale sounds too careful and prone to error. Jerry does create a bit of a developed jam, but it sounds quite forced. Even so, this was the years best version as of 4.2.89. As I have mentioned before, I find this tune to be another classic Hunter Garcia and in 1990 the band sizzled when performing it, see 3.19.90. It shall be interesting to see the band struggle through this and raise it to the next level. Despite this being only the third song of the set, the band takes a break and called the drummers. The space is somewhat typical of the era which in my opinion means that Jerry spent about 10 minutes creating some interesting themes. This abruptly goes into the Wheel which is quite flat. Followed by the beginnings of Gimme Some before the Fantasy Jude suite is entered into. This is another average reading. Jerry leads the band into R&R which is a bit more enthused but still not dazzling. Just when I thought the show was over, at the conclusion of RR Jerry wanders into the years GDTRFB. Jerry ends the show with a high note as this version is particularly inspired. The jams are very tight and well developed and the vocals are right on. Weir keeps the pace with a lively and up to that point the years best Lovelight. The Baby Blue encore was average and likely meant as a message to the crowd to keep their emotions in check as they leave the venue. Another inconsistent show in the books, 4.2.89 provides mostly average, a few below average and a few above average moments. Inconsistency is beginning to define this tour and the year. The scene was exploding all around them, and the idea of developing a dazzling show was likely not on their minds. Yet, perhaps that would have done the scene some good. Stats Set 1: 7.2 Set 2.1: 6.7 Set 2.2: 7.2 Set 2Sum: 6.95 Whole show: 7.1  Rob Goetz ©

Grateful Dead February 1989 concert reviews by Rob Goetz

4/3/89 ~ Civic Arena ~ Pittsburgh, PA

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12th Show of 1989 
6th Show of Spring tour 1989 

After numerous listens and close analysis, I've come to the conclusion that this is a tremendously strong performance. Whether it is stronger than 2.10.89 is another question. But in relation to the Spring 1989 Tour, it is the strongest performance up until that date. As a reviewer of this tour, I was particularly happy because a lot things came together for the band. For example, Brent had the first major success of the tour with Blow Away, Jerry had his first new tune success of the tour with Built To Last, the Crazy Fingers outro jam is amazing, and the band really cooked from the beginning of the show to the end for only the second time of the year. Set 1 boldly begins with the years first GSETold. The band is quite tight and the tune is nailed shut. Lesh also is clearly evident from the start dropping numerous bombs in both the tune direction and in his own odd direction. Mydland, as well, appeared headed in the right direction by providing appropriate and complex filler, as opposed to hysterical and exaggerated filler. The finale jam, while a bit short, featured complex Jerry noodling that ends is flawless. All in all, an exceptional version. The GSET is clearly above average and unlike the previous 5 spring tour dates, I was particularly intrigued at this point. The band immediately slammed into Bertha next. This version is also flawlessly performed, and the jam adds the extra something to put it over the edge from above average to exceptional. Jerry starts out the G / C cycle with complex noodling that was laid back yet quite curious. Throughout the four cycles of this the rhythm provides the occasional bang. Near the finale, the bangs get quite powerful and Jerry's noodling matches. The vocal finale is equally impressive. Second tune of the night, second exceptional version. Weir kept the intro set alive as he strolled into Walkin Blues. Garcia really sets the tone at the start with a chilling first jam that in my opinion is among the finest versions. Better than 2.10.89? Yet to be decided. The finale jam is tremendous. The band at this point of the night was very very on and I was excited to hear what could come next and if the energy was to last for the whole night. JackARoe came next and it too was flawless. Jerry set the pace for this version at breakneck speed. The jams in-between the verses increase in tempo and energy successively so that by the third cycle, the tone is exasperated and the sets the theme for a nice slamming conclusion. Another impressive tune in the books, the band tested their luck with the years first El Paso. Amazingly, this version is breathtaking. Weirs vocals are profoundly intent and direct, Jerry's harmony is right on, and there even is a Jerry solo (which may have been entered into with error) that matches the tone perfectly. This version is quite relaxed compared to 1973 and 1972 versions, but it still is impressive in its own right. Five songs into the show, and five exceptional versions. It was clear at this point that this was to be a special evening. The question was merely how special. Next is Built to Last, and this version shatters the incorrect statement that all new Jerry tunes were destined to be flat and uninteresting. Jerry's vocals are strong, the pace of this version is fast, the jam provided by Jerry makes the song more interesting, and the ineffable energy that makes the Dead so interesting is clearly present in this version. In my opinion, this is the finest version I've heard of this tune – granted there still is a lot of 1989 and beyond left I have yet to hear. But I will say bravo to the band for sticking with this tune and playing average to below average versions over and over because all that work paid off on 4.3.89. Bravo. Next, the band entered the jam spot of the show with Victim or the Crime. Another new tune that when the band was playing well was clearly the essence of the Grateful Dead. Sharp and questionable lyrics (Will I be damned to be forgiven?) matched with an extended jam that not only has no ending in sight but also has an uncomfortable edge. In fact, I often seem to ask myself throughout my experiences in life if I am the victim or the crime. The band was playing well on 4.3.89 and this version of Victim is no less impressive than the previous tunes of the night. The vocal delivery is strong and angry. The rhythm throughout is in sync, unlike the 2.7.89 version. The outro jam is crafted by Jerry in a dark manner. The jam gets quite wide, and eventually it almost seems desperate. Out of this smoke arises the Dylan tune of the night not sung by Weir but by Mr. Lesh with the years first Tom Thumb. This version is well sung by Lesh, and the Jerry solo creates interpretation on the song that only Jerry could with Dylan tunes. Jerry clearly was having one of his finer nights of the late 80s and it showed with this version. As the song ends, Jerry also adds a nice note pluck that almost seems like a kiss. All good things come to an end, which even applies to great sets like this one, and the band entered Don't Ease Me In. The vocals on this version are tight, enthusiastic, and even a tad angry. The jams match the intensity. The band must have been happy with this set for many reasons. It clearly was the strongest set of the tour, it had been only one day since the ugly riots, and it was the happiest sounding set of the tour as well. Set two opens with the strongest Brent tune performance of the year. The Blow Away literally blows away. Perhaps it was in response to the riots? Who knows, but this version is extremely solid and filled with ire. As Mydland screams out during the finale, Jerry and the band push the tune to the brink of disaster. This is more than just an exceptional version, this version is amazing, and Brent deserves a lot of credit. In my opinion, a significant reason that 4.3.89 is as amazing as it is due to Brent Mydland. Estimated Prophet opens next. This version immediately switches the tone from angry and disgruntled to completely confused. The tune soars. Weir does a great job of presenting and Mydland and Jerry add the necessary harmonies well. The first jam is not half assed or boring, but is attacked by the band and defeated. There's nothing like a stomping Estimated jam to start the day. The last verse features Weir screaming and trashing his voice just like the old days (for a great Weir voice trashing on Estimated, I recommend 9.17.82). Out of this delirium Jerry crafts a unique direction and theme. The jam opens with traditional yet complex Estimated themes. There are likely about 3 different themes that are entered. Each lasts about 2 minutes. I cant stress how impressive this is considering some of the earlier Estimateds from the year. Throughout these jams, Weir strongly hinted at Eyes of the World, but Jerry resisted and as the jam heads to a silence, he opens up Crazy Fingers. This is the bittersweet moment of the show for me. While I was deeply impressed with the song selection, this version has two flubs. The first flub is that the instrumental jam leading back to Life May Be Sweeter is a bit off. The first part of this jam is nailed tight and is quite expressive, but the second part almost sounds lost, and the return to the reprise is stumbled into. The second flub is that the outro jam rises nicely to a crescendo but loses steam as Jerry does not keep up with the theme he developed. It sounds a bit awkward, and the band just goes into Uncle Jams Band. Every rose has a thorn? Wrong band, but right metaphor, and right idea. Every bud has a stem? Right on. You get the idea. This was one of those circumstances. While these flubs exist, the version still to me is not below average. I don't think it tarnishes this show in the least. Uncle Jams Band starts out very nicely and tightly and the first jam is a bit extended and features very nice noodling from Jerry. The outro jam gets quite intense with the rhythm pounding away at the Am C G Am C G. Out of this Jerry creates a very nice and intense jam that develops into a sprint for the who oh what I want to know. I asked myself at the finale of it what year this was. 1989? Sounded like 1977 for a few seconds there. This version is stellar. At the end of the song, Jerry leads the band into a lengthy UjamBandesque transition to drums. This is not intense jamming but it is led by Jerry and is quite interesting. As the pre drums portion of the show came to a close, the band really deserved a pat on the back. Not only was there a brilliant first set (my ranking is 8.55), but the first part of the second set was also extremely well done. The Space may be the finest from 1989 up to this date. It is quite complex and features several different themes. Jerry really shined during this performance and the space matches as well. Most of the space is just Jerry soloing, and it is a real treat to hear him effortlessly transfer from very fast picking to long and contemplated low note moans. As the band begins to return, Jerry opts not to include them and jumps into a slow hint at Gimme Some Lovin. The band takes the bait, and a truly amazing rendition of space is exited. Gimme Some starts the final push of the show in a hot manner. This may not be the most rockin Gimme, but it fills the boat and actually serves as a nice transition from the deep space Jerry was in. Next is a step up on the ladder as we get a much hotter and more scalding Miracle. This version is quick but vocals by Weir are quite convincing, the band rhythm holds the tune together, and the finale jam by Jerry takes off nicely. As the jam dies down, Jerry enters Stella Blue. This version is very well done. Jerry's vocals really display a sadness, and not to be melodramatic, but who knows . . . maybe it had to do with the riots. The jam in the middle of the tune has one of my favorite Lesh bombs right after the final Gonna Let em Shine. . . bomb. A must hear for all. The finale jam as well reaches some emotional heights and reminded me why Jerry still performed Stella Blue after 17 straight years; Stella never left Jerry's rotation of songs. Sugar magnolia ends the set nicely with some high powered jamming. Once again, Sugar Mag is one of those tunes that as the band got older, it seemed to become loose at the seems and sound unconvincing. Not this version. The band is totally tight and the SSDD jam is awesome in how it builds up to the climax. The SSDD vocal finale also features Weir trashing his voice. As the band left the stage they must have known that despite everything that was going on around them with the riots and all that they could still pull out aces from the deck. Appropriately, the band salutes the crowd in the encore with JBGoode. Smiles must have been pouncing on everyone. Jerry sizzles on this version and pulls off some old time jamming memories. As the song ends, I found myself nodding my head in appreciation. But, Jerry had one last trick up his sleeve as he started picking the notes to Black Muddy River. Truly soothing and a cogent reminder that there is more to the Dead, the scene and the lifestyle than just hardcore; there is a gentle side as well. One of those nights when the Dead came saw and made you a better person for having either seen it live, or, in my case, having heard it years later. Set 1: 8.55 Set 2.1: 8.625 Set 2.2: 8.14 Set 2sum: 8.4 Whole show: 8.47  Rob Goetz ©

Grateful Dead February 1989 concert reviews by Rob Goetz

4/5/89 ~ Crisler Arena ~ Ann Arbor, MI

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14th Show of year 
8th show of 1989 Spring Tour 

After a truly amazing show performed 4.3.89 at Pittsburgh the band rolled into Ann Arbor on a roll. But, the band didn't match the intensity nor the performance caliber of 4.3.89. The first set likely represents the prototypical average set. Each tune is not poorly performed but at the same time is not above average or exceptional. It is ho hum Dead at its best. Set one begins with Feel Like a Stranger which features some nice singing by Weir. The jam, however, begins with complex jamming by Jerry that gets a bit lost. Instead of reigning Garcia back in the band seems to play it cautious and wait for him to return them to a theme. Instead Jerry apparently gives up and enters into a flawless finale. This is by no means a bad version, but it isn't that interesting either. The Franklins Tower is competently played and the jams are developed, but it just sounds flat and maybe a bit forced. Minglewood is sung well but the jams don't take off in any exceptional directions. Candyman follows and it too fails to rise above average. The Stuck Inside of Mobile aint bad but not great either. Better versions exist. Its hard to tell if the band was just playing laid back or was having trouble getting enthusiastic. If anything the band sounds a bit bored. The next songs fail to do much to break this presumption. Far From Me sounds very rusty and the finale guitar solo by Jerry barely goes anywhere (unlike the 9.6.80 version which is Brent at his best and Jerry at his best as well). Next is Duprees which suggests that perhaps the band wasn't as bored as they sounded. This version while nice to see it on the set list also fails to rise above average. The situation certainly arose at times when the band may have been enjoying themselves greatly, but upon review of the concert they sounded flat. Oh, and I guess the circumstance could arise where I could be wrong with my review. Let It Grows offers potential and hope for the rest of the show. It clearly is the highlight of the first set. During the finale jam Jerry creates some well paced themes, but Brent seemed too eager in his agreement with Jerry almost matching every direction he took. The sound gets a bit hackneyed. Jerry rises above this and creates some tasty jams to end out the tune. This version is above average but not by much because of the Mydland intrusions. I don't mean to bad mouth this version because there are some great moments in it, but nothing I would need to hear again. It certainly fails to meet the standard set forth on 2.10.89. The set ends with another highlight on the set list scrolls and is USBlues which also is average at best. At least the band was mixing things up. One startling development is that Brent's keyboard which had been somewhat controlled in the previous Spring Tour shows was making another exaggerated appearance on 4.5.89. It shall be interesting to see if that continues. Set 2 begins with a very laid back Sampson & Delilah that reaches some nice jam themes and complexity. Again, however, the jams don't build to any nice crescendos or drop-offs. Instead, the themes increase in pace but don't slam home the answer. Next is Cumberland Blues, again suggesting that the band was having a better time than my review indicates. Yet, this version again while very competently played does not rise above average into the exceptional category. Next is Women Are Smarter which is by far the years best. Jerry creates nice themes which build nicely. The fragmented sound of February was nowhere to be found. But, this version also does not rise into exceptional. Predrums set 2 ends with Terrapin Station that really is played flawlessly but not exceptionally. The space is kind of interesting but short lived. The China Doll is relatively flat, the Tstones that follows has somewhat of an interesting jam but seems rushed in anticipation of the show conclusion. NFA rolls out of the Tstones but fails to develop a lot of interest. Jerry does develop an interesting jam after the second verse, but it almost seemed out of place in relation to the previous set 2 songs. It clearly is the highlight of the entire show. At first the jam starts with Jerry cruising along and the band almost balking at their nonperformance. But, as Jerry keeps going, the band wakes up and joins him for a very nice ending to the jam. Jerry was cooking. The encore Mighty Quinn is ok. A far cry from the previous show . . . 4.3.89. . . but not as big a let down 2.11.89 was for 2.10.89. I wonder how many shows it will take the band to create another masterpiece like 2.10 or 4.3, by the end of the spring tour? At this point in the year 1989, the band had performed 14 shows and only 2 had been must must must hears. As such, simple math suggests that with 1 out of 7 shows being spectacular, the Minneapolis show on 4.17.89 should be spectacular. Obviously, such speculation is garbage, but it would be nice to see the band develop a hot streak entering the latter spring tour shows. The NFA that ended set 2 featured a very energetic Jerry. Hopefully that would carry to the next and final 1989 Michigan show. Set 1: 6.94 Set 2.1: 7.25 Set 2.2: 7.0 Set 2 sum: 7.125 Show: 7.0325  Rob Goetz ©

Grateful Dead February 1989 concert reviews by Rob Goetz

4/6/89 ~ Crisler Arena ~ Ann Arbor, MI

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15th Show of Year 
8th Show of Spring Tour of 1989 

A catchy Touch of Grey opens the second half of the Spring Tour. This version is very laid back and it grooves quite well. The jerry solo is almost nurturing. Despite a major, I mean major, flub in the actual song, this version works quite well and is above average. Weir pauses a second after the close of the song, and creaks out the slide for the intro to Little Red Rooster. Jerry immediately is on fire on the rhythm. His jabs at Weirs vocals almost seem like cutting gashes. At that point in the set Jerry was playing very well and the band was obviously responding. Before the trio of jams from Brent bobby and jerry, brent steals, with permission, a set of lyrics from Weir and exclaims that the little red rooster doesn't mean shit to him. Go Brent. His keyboard solo that follows is particularly inspired and sounds great. Weirs slide tutorial follows and it sounded a bit lost or confused. Jerry brings the house down, however, with a monster solo that follows. The transition back to the verse is perhaps a bit awkward on Weirs part as he jumps in a split second too early. Despite that, however, the band seemed to cooking after only two songs. Jerry's 2spot is BEWomen. Jerry strongly sings in this version and flexes his speed muscles during the solo. It sparkles and is a tremendous version of this song that I typically am not a fan of. In addition, the band embellishes in just the right corners making this an eager version. Jerry does mess up the final verse, but, it doesn't matter in the least in my opinion. The band was cruising at this point. The show was not spectacular, but they were headed somewhere other than Dullsville, and I was happy to be hearing it. Weir chose MamaMexicali next. Mama is well sung and the Jerry solo is competent (if not a bit listless). The Mexicali erupts and also is well sung, but the Jerry solo is plagued by guitar problems. The momentum built up with Touch Rooster Women dropped a bit with this duet. Next Jerry chooses Althea. Althea always has a lot of potential. This version is not bad but not great either. The tune has some flubs and is a bit too keyboardy. The finale jam gets a nice pace going but the Garcia themes are disjointed and don't amount to a nice peak (not disjointed in the same way 2.11.89 was). Weir next chooses likely the strongest and most consistent first set tune of the year . . . Masterpiece. Weir is very strong in his vocal performance but Jerry's guitar rhythm seems distracted. Better Masterpieces are out there (see 2.10.89). The band started somewhat strongly with Touch Rooster Women but lost steam with Mama through Masterpiece. For the first 3 tunes Jerry was very very on. For the Mama through Masterpiece Jerry wasn't all that on and in fact sounded distracted. For the jam segment of the first set he chose a tune that required him to be very undistracted . . . Bird Song. Bird Song is well sung by Jerry and the band harmony. Mydland performs the Garcia note tab after each verse along with Jerry and it drowns Jerry out which is quite annoying. The jam, however, is spectacular and is the highlight of the first set and maybe whole show. Jerry stretches out a first theme that curiously meanders through calm waters. A second theme begins that is at a brisker pace and begging for more. As it drowns out, Jerry starts a ladder type jam that the band jumps on and begins to climb. As it reaches a peak Jerry starts a strumming jam that reeks of a very hot Bird Song. After a few moments of this bliss Jerry soars below the jam and starts another theme. This final theme comprises chopping Weir chords and careful Jerry note themes. He slowly guides it back to the reprise, and another great Bird Song is exited. This may not be the years finest up to that date Bird Song (see 3.30.89 for that one, it just sizzles), but it certainly is a very fine version. Promised, while seemingly energetic, is quite typical for this time period and doesn't reach any very impressive heights. At the close of set one, the band completed their second average first set in a row. The exception on 4.6 compared to 4.5 was the Bird Song on 4.6 was better than the Let It Grow on 4.5. Either way, two average Michigan first sets. Scarlet Begonias starts set two off with a lot of energy. The first jam, however, stalls a bit and despite a frantic Mydland, Jerry crawls back to Wind and the Willows. The transition jam begins with a very nice groove and flow contemplated by Jerry. However, after about 4 minutes, the jam stalls a bit and after about a 20 second silent drift Jerry starts Fire on the Mountain. Better transitions exist, but so far, not from 1989. The first Fire jam after verse 1 has some nice Jerry noodling but it fails to rise to a crescendo or build in any manner. The second jam has pretty much the same kind of jam theme until the end where Jerry opens up a weird sounding Fire theme. It is short lived however as the main theme is reentered. The finale Fire jam rises to the occasion slightly but doesn't show off Jerry's abilities. A very average Scarlet Fire completed, the band next expanded things a bit with PITJam. The PITB features a nice space. Jerry creates numerous themes and maintains a brisk pace. The jam pretty much maintains a fast pace throughout, but Jerry switches from tradition PITB sprinting, to psychedelic wandering, and bluesy exasperation. Mydland turns the jam chaotic for a little while before Jerry returns to one last PITB jam. Finally the jam reaches a crossroads and Jerry starts of all things Built To Last. This was truly a great moment. Technically this was not the first PITB Built (that happened in the notoriously bad show 10.20.88) but certainly in the context of the tour and what the band was aiming for with their new tunes, this was a nice accomplishment. Clearly the band had some high goals with Built to Last. This version is quite tight and well done (although I guess I prefer the 4.3.89 version). This Built to Last also features a non eventful Jerry solo out of the songs finale. Although not great, it again shows that the band was expanding and growing. A smile crossed my face as I heard Jerry launch into this jam. it was the first Built To Last with an outro jam. Jerry clearly must have been excited to see his new tune evolve the way it was. While Standing on the Moon was still quite raw, Built To Last was coming along nicely. And now, Built to Last was fitting very nicely into a sacred set 2 spot. Bravo Jerry. As the Built to Last jam dies down, Jerry sprints back for one last PITB jam. And it is a nice one at that. It gets quite dark with nice Mydland keys and Lesh bombs. This drifts a bit and is swallowed by the Drums. The Space is very uneventful. The themes don't really go anywhere or build into layered jams. Out of this comes the Spring Tours second Take Me Home Immediately (remember the first one was on 3.31.89). The Other One creeps out of this and fails to develop an impressive build into verse one (this is not the jazzy other one we saw on 2.12.89 that was so intriguing, this is the traditional 80s styled Other One). The in-between verse jam has some build to its jam structure but nothing deeply impressive. In addition, there were no impressive Lesh bombs, and certainly no Lesh Thunderrolls (e.g., 10.27.79). Wharf Rat is next, and it is very average. The jams don't reach any impressive heights or moments (certainly nothing like the 2.10.89 version). Ho hum. Next is RR. Brent's keyboard solo stands out to me as being slightly impressive with the remainder of the band putting forth minimal effort. The finale jam stops just at the spot where typically the band would go into Good Lovin, but instead Jerry enters a PITB space that is pretty noneventful. It touches mainly just on typical PITB themes and is relatively short before the band enters the vocal reprise. Late 80s PITB reprises always sounded loose at the seems to me . . . far from tight. This one does as well. The encore is Brokedown and it is the essence of slightly below average because of so so guitar solo and a major verse change flub. With the close of the Michigan shows, the band showed again that the elusive spectacular show was difficult to obtain, but also perhaps even harder to maintain. Would 1989 bring a string of spectacular shows similar to perhaps 6.16, 6.18, 6.20, 6.22, 6.23 1974? 4.6.89 did have nice moments. The Birdy was very well done. The BEWomen is great. The PITB Built To Last suggested that the band was evolving nicely. And finally with the performance of I Refuse To Take You Home, the band would have likely a weeks worth of shows before we heard it again. On to Cincy for the next show, but not before a day off for the band. 4.6.89 Set 1: 7.4 Set 2.1: 7.2 Set 2.2: 6.6 Set 2Sum: 6.88 Show: 7.14  Rob Goetz ©

Grateful Dead February 1989 concert reviews by Rob Goetz

 

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